Bodegas Callia, San Juan, Argentina

Argentina and her wines are hot, hot, hot! Ascending to the top with great wines of great value!

Say Argentina today in the world of wine and several key words automatically come to mind…. Malbec, Malbec, Malbec… and that’s just the beginning! Although the Malbec grape is to Argentina as Shiraz is to Australia, Zinfandel to California and icewine to Canada, the 5th largest wine producer in the world is commanding a great deal of attention for a variety of her wines.

The last ten to fifteen years has been a time of incredible growth and evolution for the wines of Argentina, in which the winemaking tradition of 500 years and the adoption of new technologies and know-how have been blended. Add to this the many aspects of Argentina’s unique environment; pure water snowmelt from the Andes for irrigation, high elevation vineyards, dry climate lending ease to natural and/or organic production, a land of contrasts offering great diversity of terroir and wines, and the deeply rooted wine culture, is there any wonder why so many are saying Yes or Salud to Argentine wine?

On our recent visit to Argentina, we had the opportunity to visit a number of spectacular wineries located in the two largest wine regions; Mendoza responsible for approximately 70% of the country’s production and San Juan, approximately an hour to the north of Mendoza City.

We’d like to introduce you to a winery in San Juan “on the radar” as one of the best wineries in the region which is owned by Bodegas Salentein located in Mendoza. Salentein is a spectacular winery which we had the occasion to visit prior to arriving in San Juan (details on that portion of our trip is on a separate article). We are excited to share this other important region and key winery with the help of our “supreme” guide Customer Relations Manager for both, Maria Lorena Cepparo.

Our first stop in San Juan is Bodegas Callia, an incredibly impressive winery situated in the Tulum Valley nestled between the Pie de Palo hills to the north and the Zonda Valley to the south. Among the four valleys in San Juan, the Tulum Valley is the most significant and has its vineyards planted, on average  650 metres above sea-level. We are to soon learn, the significance of altitude, of terroir and of climate through our conversation in the vineyard with the very charming  and passionate Vineyard Manager Gustavo Matocq. But first, we are greeted once again by Maria Lorena Cepparo, her passion and extensive knowledge of wine, of the region and for Callia is contagious. We shortly discover that we cannot stump Lorena, she is a veritable walking encyclopedia with great personality! 

Lorena will be our guide for the day, “we will start in the vineyard where you will meet Gustavo, our vineyard manager” she says, “and then from there we will have a tour, a tasting and a little lunch”. Are we ready? Absolutely!

Georgia inspects the stainless steel tanks with Ariel Cavalier, Winemaker Bodegas Callia and Maria Lorena Cepparo, Customers Relations Salentein Family of Wines.

As we walk around the property Lorena explains that the  philosophy of Bodegas Callia is to live in harmony with the Valley of Tulum landscape. “You’ll notice that the bodges is painted the colour of sand and melds with the dunes typcial of the region” she tells us ” every detail including the native vegetation that surrounds the winery was treated in such a way to respect and preserve the natural local landscape”.  The winery itself is a marvel, home to 8000 square metres of tanks with a capacity of 9,000,000 litres, outfitted with stainless steel tanks and modern pneumatic presses this gigantim winery is a force to reckon with, particularly for the consistent terrific tasting and quality ratio wines it produces. Very impressive!

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Many maintain, when it comes to wine, it all starts here, in the vineyards. Gustavo, Vineyard Manager takes us to the soil… where he explains the essence of terroir. “It is not a French word” he explains, it is a global term”. In the Pie de Palo Estate vineyard, named after the hill in close view, we examine two different kinds of soil, separated by no more than 500 metres.

Vineyard Manager Gustavo Matocq explains the concept of “terroir” including the various soil in the vineyards that affect the grapes and the final wines.

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The tasting, the fruit of all the labour comes together here in the Bodegas Callia wine tasting room, where we are about to sample some fifteen wines!  Joining us Chief Winemaker Jose Ruben Morales, aka “Little Pepe” winemaker Ariel Cavalier, as well as Gustavo and of course Lorena, ready to  share her valuable input and also act as an interpretor.

We are taken through a succession of wines, kicking the tasting off with an aromatic and delightful Pinot Grigio. “A little different from what one might expect from Pinot Grigio” Pepe explains. From the Tulum Valley this wine is “more assertive in the nose, with both fruit and floral notes and a little more weight” Delish!

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A few other highlights of the tasting! Why Malbec of course! Naturally as we are Mad about Malbec, Argentina’s signatuure grape!

 

Callia Alta Malbec – A wine for anytime, with cherry and plum and black fruit flavours, hints of oak and notes of spice and with good length. At $10.90 (Ontario market) what a steal!

Callia Malbec Reservado  – The first line for Callia that is 100% varietal. Deep red, lively with bright purplish tints. Along with the aroma of raspberries and cherries, enjoy the notes of vanilla and chocolate. Long finish with soft yet firm sweet tannins.

Callia Alta Shiraz Bonarda 2011–  A grape that Argentina wants to show the world, an up and coming variety catching on. A robust wine, deep red in colour with purplish hues, lots of spice and red fruit and lasting finish.

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Our day comes to a close with a vivacious luncheon at the winery, with lots of chatter, great Callia wines and wonderful dishes, including the traditional Argentine “empannada”, and their traditional dulce de leche dessert enjoyed with the Callia  Cuvee, a sparkling of seductive bubbles and sweetness, delish with floral notes and those of citrus. 

All of our senses have been touched here at our visit to Bodegas Callia, from the people to the beautiful landscape, the winery, the wines. We look forward to enjoying Callia once again at our “Grape Stomping Mad about Malbec” event coming up May 30th at C House Lounge & Cafe in Yorkville.

Please join us, and give yourself a chance to experience the wines of Argentina, and her culture. Salud!

 

 

 

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