Recently I was introduced to some of the finest wines of Argentina that is in my humble opinion by James Caudill of Hess Collection Wineries of Napa Valley, California. Jim is the Director of Public Relations and Hospitality for the Hess Family, and a big fan of Social Network marketing. I say this because after I happened to mention on Facebook that I had been hired to write articles by multiple publications, on wine and in one case about Wines of Argentina, he contacted me.
Jim told me that the Hess Collection Winery included a winery in Argentina that was producing some excellent wines for them, which they were marketing here in the U.S. and asked if I would be interested in sampling some for my reviews. Being of sound mind and palate, I accepted and proceeded to give him my mailing address to ship the samples to. To my surprise within a couple of days, three premium bottles of the Argentina wines arrived at my door, along with product info and a letter about the wineries in Argentina, and offering any assistance that he could give. Have I ever stated how wonderful it is working with people in the wine industry?
The three bottles from the Argentina Hess Collection Wineries in the box were the 2011 Colome Vineyard Torrontes, 2010 Colome Vineyard Malbec Estate and the 2010 Amalaya. The Torrontes is a white and the other two each red blends. I was very excited to do some research on these wines and learn more about the Hess Family and their Argentina Wine Connection.
The Bodega Colome was founded in the early 1800’s by the Spanish and in 1854 the first plantings of French Cabernet Sauvignon and pre-phylloxera Malbec were planted in the now Colome Vineyards. Of those first planted vines, there are three vineyards in Salta Province still harvesting grapes from those vines and producing wine from them today. The Colome Vineyards and Winery remained in the same family for nearly 170 years until in 2001 it was purchased by Donald and Ursula Hess as one of their worldwide wineries.
What the Hess’s found after visiting the Calchaqui Valleys multiple time between 1998 and when they purchased it in 2001, was beyond all their expectations, in both weather conditions and terroir. They had been searching for the perfect location to grow and produce the finest wines in Argentina, with ideal growing conditions, and they found them here at Colome. Donald and Ursula Hess had found both a beauty and grandness in the lands, and for them, another place to call home.
During the past ten years, the Hess Family and their employees have built a modern state of the art production facility, Visitor tasting Center, a Boutique Hotel, and also the James Turrell Museum on the premises. The Bodega Colome Winery now exports their wines to over twenty-five countries worldwide.
The vineyards themselves are located at a higher altitude than any other vineyard in the world, between 5000-10,000 ft above sea level. Grapes grown at this higher altitude produce thicker skins to protect them from excess ultraviolet rays. This produces a much higher concentration of color, flavor and aromas. Another factor is the lack of rainfall in Argentina, and the effect on grape production. Because of lack of rainfall, plants are irrigated and controlled growth of the plants and fruit, along with temperature and sun, produce smaller more concentrated fruit.
This winery is composed of four individual vineyards in different locations here, La Brava, planted in Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Tannat, Bonarda and Torrontes. Colome (where the winery is located), is planted in Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Tannat, Petit Verdot, Syrah, Bonarda and Torrontes. Altura Maxima, planted in Malbec, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Syrah, Torrontes, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay, and El Arenal where only Malbec is planted.
The winemaking philosophy of not only Colome but Hess Collection Wineries as well is simple, quality before quantity, with hands on approach in all the processes involved. AT Colome, the French Oenologist Thibault Delmotte, who studied in Beaune, Burgundy, oversees the wine production from vineyards to bottle. The Hess Collections U.S Consultant Oenologist, Randle Johnson who has a Masters from U.C Davis in Viticulture visits and works with Thibaut and his team in the process of producing only the finest wines for their label.
The first wine I tasted from this winery was the 2011 Torrontes, which is the signature white wine of Argentina. With multiple theories of how this wine came about, there are two theories that one might think correct. The first is that it originally was planted by Spanish Conquistadors as a raisin variety, and the second theory via DNA that it is a cross of grapes from Spain, Galicia and Muscat from Alexandria. Whichever theory is correct, really doesn’t matter to me, all I know is that this wine is delicious. Chilled to the proper temperature, and served alone or with crab (the way I enjoyed it) or any shellfish, white fish, or Sushi? Produced from 30-60 year old vines, it presents straw in color, kiwi, jasmine and fresh flowers on the nose with some citrus and hint of rose pedal, The floral scent carries to your palate as very delicate, soft and I found the continued kiwi flavor quite refreshing.
The next wine I tasted and would like to tell you about is the Colome Malbec Estate 2010. This lovely full bodied and meaty Malbec is produced from grapes harvested from the vines first planed on this estate back in 1854. Imagine what a thrill it is to have the opportunity to take a sip of that kind of history. The vines were planted at an altitude between 5,500-8,500 feet above sea level. Now please keep in mind that places like Napa, California is planted under 1000 ft above sea level, and the difference in the grapes is evident in the glass and on the palate. The Colome Estate Malbec Wines reflect the cool climate uniqueness of Argentina and this it’s signature red wine, Malbec.
This Estate Malbec is a blend of 85% Estate Malbec, 8% Tannat, 3% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Syrah and 2% Petit Verdot. It spent 15 months ageing in French Oak. The resulting wine is a very deep, dark red in color with slight magenta hue to it. My first swirl and bringing the glass to my nose found blackberry, cherry and raspberry aromas, with a spice note and hint of fresh violets. My second swirl and subsequent sip brought the red fruits, strong structure and a velvet smoothness of tannin to my palate. The French Oak was evident and offered a balance to the mid palate leading to a very delicate a lengthy satin finish. I was very, very impressed.
Following my tasting, and an endless smile of my face, I proceeded to enjoy this wine with my home grown, grass fed Texas Longhorn T-Bones on the grill. All I can say is that I love my wines, and I love my Longhorn Steaks, but I really loved my Longhorn Steaks with this Colome 2010 Malbec Estate wine.
You can find these excellent wines in quality wine shops, and also directly from the Hess Collection Winery in Napa Valley, California.