Bodega Puna, located in Argentina's Salta province which is world-renowned for its Torrontes grape variety, was the only winery from that wine-producing region awarded a platinum medal at the recent 2022 Decanter World Wine Awards (DWWA) event. Its winning wine, the Puna 2600 Malbec, was produced in the north-western part of the country known for its higher-altitude vineyards. The winery also won a silver medal for its 2600 Malbec Reserva as well as two bronze medals, one each for the 2600 Gran Reserva Malbec and the Puna Torrontes, respectively.
Located at an altitude of 2,600 metres above sea level in the Cachi Adentro region of Salta, Bodega Puna's journey began in 2014 when the Montero family decided to use their farm as a gateway to the world of viticulture. The farmland, an expansive 69 acres located at the foot of the Andes mountain range, was originally acquired for recreational purposes but following a trip to Spain, the family was inspired to pursue winemaking. Since its first harvest in 2017 and inauguration in 2018, the winery's first-rate technology, unique in the winemaking process from harvest to final packaging, is carried out in compliance with the highest quality standards required for national and global commercial distribution.
With current production in excess of 240,000 bottles annually, the grape strains cultivated at this vineyard include Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Tempranillo and Salta's most famous grape, Torrontés. Elements like the height of the vineyards, the climate, the thermal amplitude, the ultraviolet rays of the area and the land, all combine to give the grapes and the wine that is produced characteristics unique to this region. Salta is a captivating province with vineyards backed by the imposing Andean landscapes and, with altitudes starting from 2,000 metres above sea level, has the highest-altitude vineyards worldwide. The soils and climate of the region are very similar to Mendoza, but its unique mesoclimate and high vineyard elevation means it produces grapes with higher levels of total acidity which contribute to the wine's balance and depth. The province is also bordered by three countries: Paraguay and Bolivia lie to its north with Chile lying to its west.
The weather and climate in Salta provide large diurnal temperature ranges, resulting in the creation of wines that possess intense flavour, balanced acidity, and phenolic ripeness. This is evident in the platinum-winning Puna 2600 Malbec (97 pts) which is an attractive, vivid ruby red with violet hues and a clear, brilliant black centre when poured. On the nose, its initial aroma is of fresh red fruits such as raspberries, cherries and plum. A second level expresses spicy and liquorice notes, along with lactic notes that recall its malolactic fermentation and a subtle vanilla, derived from the wood. Its flavour is light to the taste, flowing well with a balanced and necessary acidity for its alcoholic content, typical in the profile of a young 100 per cent Malbec. At the centre, its tannins are present but soft and round making for a very pleasant finish.
The silver medal-winning Puna 2600 Malbec Reserva (91 pts) was grown at the bodega's 10-year-old Cachi vineyards, yielding 12,000 bottles. This wine is an intense burgundy red, with slight violet tones and a deep black brilliant appearance when in the glass. Its aroma is very complex, offering red fruits such as plums and black fruits such as cassis, alternating with a background of cherries, before revealing an expression of licorice and soft toasted elegant aromas due to its 12 months in oak. A sip of this 100 per cent Malbec wine presents intense marked tannins, with juicy sweet sensations. The long aftertaste coincides with the fruity aromatic plane along with the acidity accompanying it in its extended persistent flavour, without being unbalanced.
The Puna Torrontes (87 pts), made 100 per cent from torrontes grapes that are the only autochthonous variety in the country, was one of two bronze medal winners from the bodega. Brilliantly golden with a greenish hue, this wine's aroma releases subtle hints of delicate white jasmine mixed with the tropical flavour of lychee and citrus fruits, fading with a mineral background. In the mouth it is light and easy to drink, having a crisp, bright fruity taste on the palate, finishing with a balanced sugar content in perfect harmony with its acidity.
The other bronze medal-winning varietal, the Puna Gran Reserva Malbec (89 pts), is aged for 24 months in the barrel, plus an additional year in the bottle. This 100 per cent Malbec wine also has an intense burgundy red colour, characteristic of high-altitude wines, with aromas of great complexity and intensity. Red fruits such as ripe plums and raspberries are the initial aromas along with black fruits like fig and cassis which alternate with a background scent of mature plums and raisins. Liquorice and mild roasted chocolate aromas, derived from the 24 months spent in oak barrels elegantly combine for a delightful aromatic finish.
Bodega Puna's almost-15-year-old vineyards, tucked away in the picturesque northern sector of the Calchaquí Valleys, have proven that, despite the most extreme desert-like conditions of Salta, their almost 9,000 feet altitude along with the four aforementioned elements make its terroir a perfect place for the production of the best, most unique wines.