Jan 9, 2013

2011 Amauta I - A red from Cafayette Valley with a lot of personality, whether you like it or not...

It is safe to say that Amauta I divides opinions - loved by most, not understood by some. While the wine is enjoyable (or very enjoyable) to a vast amount of consumers, I know there is a large amount of wine lovers who oppose this kind of wine style. As the division in opinion will most certainly be huge, which group do you belong to?

Let's get to the basics. Amauta I is a dry red from winery El Porvenir de los Andes in a less known wine producing area of Cafayette Valley. The valley is one of Argentina's most northwestern wine producing areas. Located within the area of Calchaqui Valleys at altitudes beginning from 1,700 meters up to 2800 meters, Cafayette Valley has 2,500 hectars of wineyards for mostly the white tórrontes variety which is the most popular white in Argentina. One of the most highest altitude wine producing areas has very little rainfall, low humidity and large difference between day and night temperatures.

However also interesting red wine projects seem to pop out of the mostly sandy soils of this area.

One such is the Amauta I in my glass. Made of Malbec 60%, Cabernet Sauvignon 20% and Syrah 10% from vineyards located at altitude of 1,750 meters. The divider of many opinions.

Super intensive. This 2011 wine is very young - however even with its big tannins, the sweet tannin structure makes the wine enjoyable already at a young age. The producer explains impact of high altitude of their vineyards to give sweet tannins to their wines. Some of that toffee feeling to reveal that French oak was (I think partially) used. So let's give a positive remark on tannin structure. After tasting the wine, I was very surprised to learn that the wine had been matured only 6 months in oak. Seems like there was much more oak in this one.

Its unbelieveable big sweet fruit will please a lot of people. Nose with loads of smoke and roasted meat, oak, sweet cola, herbs and very strong licorice and toffee integrated to plum and blackcurrant. The palate is dominated by almost-sweet fruit which is the tale of this wine. After getting air for 1.5 hours, the notes of meatiness in the wine turned into a charcoal (barbecue) feeling. And that's your recommended food pairing too.

A lot of alcohol in this one, 14.5% abv. I can already feel wine aficionados who love their Pinot Noir trembling. OK, so we have established that this wine is super intensive.


Where is its sensitivity? Where is the hint of something you want from the wine to seduce you?

You are not able to find it in this wine. This one is a muscular, strong, fruit & licorice bomb which is in-your-face in style. Not my type of wine, however if you need a big wine, look no further. Price tag is set at 24 eur in your local Alko shop, so the price keeps its sales numbers relatively low.

At first when opening the bottle, the wine has a bit of a harsh aftertaste after 5 seconds, of which volume decreases as time in glass increases. But it stays there underneath in the mouth feel while the wine rounds up with 1.5 hours after opening.

The positive fact about this wine is its ability to provoke discussion. While enjoying the bottle we had plenty of discussion about it, which is a compliment to any production with lots of winemaker's love behind it.

The story behind El Porvenir de los Andes are Italian immigrants who established the winery in 1890. The winery was however bought by Romero-Marcuzzi family in 1999 who invested in wine making and the winery now lives a renaissance. The renowned wine maker Paul Hobbs is consulting the estate.

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