These wines were received as tasting samples.
This is the third group of wines from Salentein we have had the pleasure to review. In all, we have tasted nine wines produced by Bodegas Salentein from their high-elevation vineyards in Argentina’s Valle de Uco. This last group of wines is from their Luxury Range of wines. We have saved the best for last!
2013 Bodegas Salentein Single Vineyard Chardonnay — golden yellow in the glass with generous aromas of toasted oats and caramel. Citrus and pear flavors are supported by toasty backnotes and bright acidity. This wine has a bit of weight in the mouth and lingering toasty notes on the finish. 13.5% abv. SRP $49.99
There is no mistaking the influence of both malolactic fermentation and wood aging in this Chardonnay, it is round and weighty in the mouth, but remains juicy with acidity and fruit flavors as well. It is a sleight of hand performed by the winemaker, José Galante. This wine is fermented in French oak, aged on the lees and goes through 100% malolactic fermentation.
The Chardonnay is grown on Bodegas Salentein’s San Pablo estate, located an elevation of 5,260 feet above sea level in the Uco Valley. San Pablo is located at the highest elevations of Salentein’s three estates.
2013 Bodegas Salentein Numina Gran Corte — dense ruby in the glass with generous aromas of red and dark fruit, crushed flower stems and hints of smoke. Ripe plum and blackberry flavors are supported by backnotes of dried blueberries, earth and hints of smoke. Once again, juicy acidity keeps the flavors bright. Tannins are drying and the body is medium. This wine shows incredible complexity, length, texture and interest. 14% abv. SRP $39.99
Predominantly Malbec, along with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc, this blend shows delightful complexity without being heavy bodied, two qualities I like in red wine and am finding to be a characteristic of the Bodegas Salentein wines. Each variety was fermented separately and aged for six months in French oak before blending. A further 16 months of barrel aging was completed before bottling.
2013 Bodegas Salentein Primum Malbec — dense ruby-violet in the glass with generous blueberry and spice aromas. Tart blackberry flavors combine with dried blueberries, licorice and smoky asphalt. Tannins are drying and the body is medium in weight. The fruit flavors last a very long time along with the tannins on the finish. 15% abv. SRP $64.99
Once again, a delightful red wine with great depth and complexity. This wine was aged 14 months in new French oak where it completed malolactic fermentation. After blending the wine was aged a further five months in the same barrels. The wine was racked and bottled without being filtered. Before release, the wine aged for 12 months more in the bottle.
It is not our practice to rate wines, rather we prefer to describe the style and allow our readers to make their own judgement. But, after tasting this range of wines from Salentein, we feel moved to break that rule. We highly recommend these wines.
As I read about the winemaking techniques used to produce these wines it became clear these wines are not rushed through production. But, that is true of many wines that do not reach this level of quality. So, what is the difference? I can’t say for certain, of course, but I can’t help but think the extreme elevation of the vineyards is significant. In reading about high-elevation viticulture I’ve learned cooler temperatures and larger diurnal temperature shifts produce more intense flavors and aromas in the grapes. High elevation means the sun’s intensity is greater, producing thicker-skinned grapes (and more tannins). The dry climate and poor-quality alluvial soil must figure in. Of course, the skill of Salentein’s Argentine winemaker, José Galante, pulls all of these qualities together. Before joining Bodegas Salentein Mr. Galante spent over 30 years working with Catena Zapata Group, themselves high-altitude specialists.
Do yourself a favor and look for the wines of Bodegas Salentein. These wines in the Luxury Range are outstanding, but there is a common thread of bright acidity, lovely fruit flavors and balance running through the Killka and Reserve range of wines as well. Pick your price point and enjoy!