Amalaya Torrontes/Riesling 2015
Calchaqui Valley, Argentina
I once heard someone say that drinking a great wine is like having an in depth conversation with the land from which it came. This philosophy is at the heart of Amalaya, a winery set in the beautiful Northern Calchaqui Valley of Argentina - a land which is rich with history, and the spiritual home of the Calchaqui Indian civilisation. The chief winemaker of Amalaya, Francisco Puga, wants his wines to not only express the unique terroir of his vineyards, but also to honour the Calchaqui culture. This means using sustainable methods which will take care of the land, preserving it for future generations, and using low-intervention agricultural practices which not only protect the surrounding area from chemicals and pesticides, but also allow the grapes to express their true nature and character in the bottle. Indeed, the name of the winery - Amalaya - translates as ‘hope for a miracle’ in the Calchaqui language.
The vineyards used by Amalaya are fantastic examples of the sort of viticulture Argentina has become famous for. They’re set at a very high altitude - 5,600 feet above sea level - which allows the vines to benefit from exposure to the blazing sunshine which glows over the northwestern part of this country. The grapes are then tempered by the chilly nights, which provide extraordinary balance and plenty of acidity. The Andes mountains loom on the horizon, and provide a truly stunning setting for this very special set of wines - an ancient, unmoving landscape which is expressed in every sip. Amalaya is part of the Hess Family Wine Estates - one of the leading names in Argentine quality wines - and the expertise of this group ensures that this is a wine which truly communicates a sense of place, and allows for that ‘conversation with the land’ to happen to full effect.
Banjo says: Nestled in the Calchaqui Valley of Salta, the Amalaya Torrontes Riesling is produced in one of the highest wine-growing regions of the world. Here, vineyards run with organic and biodynamic practices produce the native torrontes (a highly aromatic grape with a passing similarity to Gewürztraminer) as well as bright, crisp Riesling.
Blended together, they produce a wine with flavours focussed around a vibrant citrus core – pink grapefruit rind, lemon peel and some juicy white pear.
The acidity is the key here, making the wine energetic and very more-ish!
This is a fascinating wine made from a blend of Torrontes and Riesling grapes. The Torrontes varietal makes up 85% of the blend, with Riesling there for a bit of zesty, minerally bite and acid. Torrontes is always an interesting wine to pair with food: its aromatic qualities and smoothness can make it a little tricky when it comes to finding a perfect match, one which doesn’t overwhelm its subtler features. I always feel it works best when paired with something a little spicy - this tends to bring out the herbal qualities of the wine and puts its refreshing character in the foreground. Try it with satay dishes, chinese pork or curried seafood for best results.
We’ve teamed up with the talented team at Smudge Eats to match all our wines to their delicious recipes, which they’ve compiled from the country’s top and emerging chefs.
Recipe link: Balinese Style Paella
Season matching: Always a winner!
Mood matching: You'll know when
Taste matching: Rich