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Bodega El Esterco
Touted as the the world’s highest wine growing region, the Calchaqui Valley has a whole lot to offer. Set halfway between sea and sky (vines are planted from 1,000 metres to 3,000 metres above sea level), the sheer variety the terroir offers is astonishing. Not only can you expect incredible concentration and strength, but also long maturation with intense colour. It could be said then that the Calchaqui Valley wines are class in a glass.
Picture perfect
One of the oldest estates in Calchaqui (in the stunning Salta region, to the north of the country), Bodega El Esterco could win prizes for its beauty. Flanked by snow capped peaks the lush vegetation of the Yunga forest (not to mention those stupendous pinky purple sunsets), it is not hard to see why Frenchmen David and Salvatore Michel fell in love with the spot when they discovered it in 1892. Armed with an innate understanding of viticulture, David and Salvatore set about converting the 1,000 hectacres of seemingly imperfect soil into premium fine wine terroir. High altitude (El Esterco’s vineyards are at 1,500-plus metres), abundant sunshine and very little rainfall have proved perfect for the combination of grapes. Today the estate produces mainly Malbec (of course), but not to be overlooked are the varietals of Cabernet Sauvignon, Tannat, Syrah, Bonarda, Torrontés and Chardonnay.
A Bodega Bordeaux
El Esterco’s Bordeaux blends have given claret lovers a legitimate alternative to the French stuff. This is no imitation however; winemaker Alejandro Pepa will add to this a dash of his Argentinian flair, perhaps a pinch of Syrah here or a splash of Bonarda there (have a glass of Altimus if you want to find out for yourself). Like many new world wines, El Esterco’s price to quality ratio is unbelievable; the concrete-fermented Torrontes are superb (as well as being gold medal winners) and are available on the secondary market for under €10 a bottle, even the well aged older vintages. Tannats from this region age particulary well too, and would perhaps present one of the best investment options.