Must-Have Wines For Spring In Argentina: The White List (Part 2)
Bodega Amalaya in Calchaqui Valleys, Salta (Photo: Bodega Amalaya)

With the winter season finally at its end, vinophiles across the length and breadth of Argentina are jubilant as the long-awaited 'temporada de primavera' (spring season) begins, bringing with it jacarandas in bloom and white wines aplenty. Spring spells a return to the outdoors, since, for the last six months beginning with autumn in March, social activities were mostly indoors and enclosed. Now that that's over, the seasonal change also means a change of wines with deep heavy robust reds making way for fun, fresh, and zesty whites. Last week, in Part 1 of this series, we introduced you to four of the season's award-winning rosés. Today, you will learn about four of the white wines that scored high and won medals at the 2022 Decanter World Wine Awards (DWWA).

Colomé Estate Torrontés is produced in the Calchaquí Valleys subregion of the Salta province by, arguably, Argentina's oldest high-altitude winery, Bodega Colomé, founded in 1831. A gold medallist, scoring 95 points at the 2022 DWWA, this 100 per cent Torrontés is the emblematic white variety and native of the country with a delicate, elegant and sophisticated interpretation of this variety. Its pale yellow colour looks almost crystalline with reflections of slight greenish tones while the initial scent is an endless aromatic expression where hints of lime leaf along with seductive lavender and aromas of fresh grapes dominate the senses. A second whiff displays floral notes reminiscent of jasmine on a spicy background. In the mouth, the palate is braced with lemon sherbet, along with lean, well-defined fruit that is refreshingly fluid with a tasty yet subtle acidity.

The Torrontés grape grows in the north-western region of Argentina, mainly in Salta, and with a combined total of 9,850 cultivated hectares, represents 4.6 per cent of the total vineyards in the country. It is a white grape that produces a fresh, aromatic wine with moderate acidity, a smooth texture on the palate, as well as distinctive aromas of peach and apricot. Since 2008 it has become the most widely planted white variety and signature white wine of the country. Torrontés, a light yellow wine that sometimes develops golden and green hues, is also characterised by its floral aromas of rose, jasmine and geranium, with the occasional appearance of spicy scents. Although these aromas anticipate a sweet wine, its flavour usually reveals a fresh acidity.

Crux Xtra Gewürztraminer, produced by Bodega Alfa Crux from vineyards located in the El Cepillo area of Mendoza's Uco Valley, scored a total of 91 points to earn a silver medal at the 2022 DWWA. This 100 per cent Gewurztraminer grape is pale yellow in colour with green hues that present delicate aromas of lychee, white peach, passion fruit, and roses. On the palate it is voluptuous and very round with a medium-high natural acidity that reflects a persistent finish of its aromatic notes. Gewürztraminer, which is of German origin (Gewürz means spicy), are aromatic grapes that perform best in cooler climates making them well-suited to the higher altitude slopes of Mendoza.

This variety has a pink skin and produces wines with an intense colour (think: yellow with slight golden highlights), full-bodied and high in alcohol compared to most white wines. The low acidity of the wines made with it gives a sensation of sweetness, which is reinforced by its characteristic sweet notes on the nose. Notwithstanding, this low acidity is often compensated with the aforementioned high alcohol content, achieving balance in the wine.

Amalaya Torrontés-Riesling, by Bodega Amalaya, is a white blend comprising 85 per cent Torrontés and 15 per cent Riesling that won a silver medal at the 2022 DWWA, having amassed a total of 93 points. The second Torrontés on our list, this wine is also produced from vineyards located in the Calchaquí Valleys area of Salta, Argentina, at an altitude 1,800 metres above sea level. Perfumed with citrus and lifted floral jasmine, this bright greenish-yellow wine has subtle yet complex fruity aromas of green apple integrated with floral notes on the nose. On the palate, the wine has a sweet and voluminous entry with a very fresh finish, where its mineral notes and mordant acidity stand out. Bodega Amalaya is part of the Hess Family Wine Estates and, since 2010, has been another of Hess's projects in Argentina joining Bodega Colomé.

The Riesling grape, originally from Germany, is an emblematic strain within German viticulture that Argentina has had a long history of growing, dating back 50 years when it used to be part of many of the generic white wines that were drunk in the 1970s. Riesling, generally grown in cold areas with colours varying between pale straw yellow and deep yellow, is high in acidity, achieving a white wine with great aging potential. In Argentina, it produces very delicate and balanced wines, with fruity and mineral aromatic notes that end with a long finish on the palate.

La Linterna Finca El Tomillo Parcela No 1 Chardonnay, produced from vineyards in Tupungato, Mendoza by Bemberg Estate Wines, was the only platinum medal-winning white wine from Argentina at the 2022 DWWA. With a total score of 97 points, this 100 per cent Chardonnay has very inviting and vibrant aromas of nectarines, lemons and tangerines, combined with an attractive and delicate fragrance of orange blossom and jasmine. In the mouth, it is very structured, with a mature acidity in harmonious balance with a smooth texture reminiscent of macadamia nuts. It culminates with a mineral hint of tinder and broken stone adding complexity to the long, multifaceted finish. The wine is made from a single plot within Finca El Tomillo (The Thyme Farm) in Gualtallary which supplied the fruit for this elegant Chardonnay from the Bemberg Estate. Finca El Tomillo is located at 1,210 metres above sea level on an alluvial fan built by the streams of the Las Tunas River, 24 km from the mouth of the valley. It is in this incredible micro-terroir that the unique plot of Chardonnay is characterised by having sandy soils 70 cm deep that rest on a layer of rounded clasts (rock fragments) containing calcium carbonate or calcareous content. These soils, expressed in an extremely elegant and complex micro-terroir, result in a Chardonnay that is vibrant in its acidity.

One of the most popular and widely planted white grapes in the world, Chardonnay is a green-skinned grape variety used in the production of white and sparkling wine. The variety originated in the Burgundy wine region of eastern France, but is now grown widely wherever wine is produced. In Argentina, it is the ninth variety in total cultivated area in the country and the third in whites suitable for wine production. Although present in 16 of the 18 Argentine wine provinces, 94 per cent of these grapes grow in the Mendoza and San Juan regions, according to the Argentine National Institute of Viticulture.

With flowers in full bloom and beautifully enchanting tree-lined streets, the spring season arrives and wine lovers are excited to celebrate the start of the warm season with 2022's best whites. Salud!

Crux Xtra Gewürztraminer (Photo: Bodega Alfa Crux)
Amalaya Spiral at Bodega Amalaya is synonymous with sustainability and represents the sun, moon, Earth and water. It also serves as their logo. (Photo: Bodega Amalaya)
Colomé Estate Torrontés (Photo: Bodega Colomé)
Bodega Alfa Crux in Mendoza (Photo: Bodega Alfa Crux)
La Linterna Finca El Tomillo Parcela No 1 Chardonnay (Photo: Bemberg Wines)
Bodega Colomé Salta Argentina (Photo: Bodega Colomé)
Amalaya Torrontés-Riesling (Photo: Bodega Amalaya)
Finca El Tomillo in Tupungato Mendoza (Photo: Bemberg Wines)

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