Amalaya Brut Nature Vino Espumante, Argentina NV

Medium straw-gold color; lime, orange blossom, green apple, lemon, pineapple on the nose; lemon, green apple, lime, pineapple on the palate.

Amalaya Brut Nature Vino Espumante, Argentina NV

Brut sparkling; blend of 80% riesling, 20% torrontes. Glycerol elements in the mouth give illusion of sweetness; glycerol generated by selected yeasts and 35 days of cold fermentation using charmat method (fermentation in a high pressure autoclave, the same as Prosecco). Excellent mouthfeel, freshness, good acidity, minerality. Persistent perlage; 12.5% ABV.

Riesling you probably are familiar with. Torrontés is Argentina’s signature white grape, although it is not exactly a single variety. DNA testing indicates the varietal is a cross between Spain’s Galicia mission grapes and muscat of Alexandria. To add complexity, three varieties bear the torrontés name: Torrontes Riojano, Torrontes Sanjuanino, and Torrentes Mendocino. Torrontest Riojano the is most planted and likely the grape in this effort, although there probably are elements of the other two as field blend since the blocks were planted 30-60 years ago.

Amalaya terroir

This comes from the high altitude Cafayate Valley, Salta Province region, several hundred miles northwest of the better known Mendoza region. Salta, in the far north of Argentina, is home to some of the world’s most extreme vineyard sites. Vineyards are located at lower latitudes and higher altitudes than anywhere else on Earth—the two balance each other. Cold temperature associated with altitude is mitigated by high temperatures associated with latitudes. The result is intensely flavored, bright wine. Malbec and torrontes are the main grapes grown in Salta. Obviously Amalaya also grows riesling, another colder weather grape.

Amalaya means “hope for a miracle” in Argentina’s indigenous dialect and reflects the difficult nature of the land of the Amalaya vineyard/winery. The wine reflects the unique weather and desert conditions in northwest Argentina’s Cafayate Valley, some 200 miles south of the Bolvian border. The high elevation makes for ripe, concentrated fruit with bright acidity and balance.

Amalaya logo

The Amalaya website explains: “Amalaya was Donald Hess’s first investment in Argentina in the vineyards of Arenal. It represented the ‘Hope for a Miracle’, a plantation in an unused land, no one ever sowed soil before, not even the Incas. Amalaya was the word that captivated Hess from the very first day. It refers to an expression of desire used by natives. The Amalaya wines stem from an experiment at Bodega Colomé. The idea was to find alternative varieties for Malbec to make a great product. ‘If blends are successful in the Old World, why can’t we have them here?’, were the words uttered by Donald Hess in 2003. Years later, Colomé’s expansion drove him to search for the versatility of the New World, in a quest to find new wines… Ever since 2010, Amalaya has joined the many projects of Donald Hess in Argentina, and together with Bodega Colomé, has proved the strong commitment and stake of the company in the region of the high Calchaqui Valleys, in the Northwest of Salta province.”

Amalaya Brut Nature Vino Espumante, Argentina NV is intriguing riesling-torrantes sparkling blend from one of the most exotic vineyards in the world. Delicious with a subtle oiliness that enhances mouthfeel and adds intriguing complexity to a very drinkable, successful charmat sparkling. Works well as an aperitif; pair with seafood, sushi, ceviche, green salads.

Amalaya website

Hess Collection website

Amalaya entrance
Amalaya barrel room
Amalaya vineyard
Donald Hess