In a nutshell: A bold and aromatic white blend from Salta in the North of Argentina.
The lowdown: Amalaya's vineyards are in the Calchaquí Valley which is the highest wine region in the world, and one of the most remote. Torrontés, Argentina's leading white grape, makes up around 85% of this blend with the remainder being Riesling. Together they provide brilliantly intense peach, elderflower, lychee and rosewater aromas that lead on to a soft, rich and flavoursome palate freshened up by clean, mouth watering acidity. And while delicate and silky in the mouth it rounds off with a flinty mineral edge and long fruit filled finish.
When to drink: Racy, fresh and nicely structured it's just the thing to have with seafood dishes like seared squid.
Amalaya translates as 'hope for a miracle' in the indigenous language of the now extinct tribe, the Calchaquí. The winery is situated in the Calchaqui Valley in Salta, in the far north of Argentina, at over 1,800 metres above sea level.
It is a part of the Hess Family Wine Estates and is run with the same dedication to quality, sustainability and social responsibility as their other estates across the world. Amalaya has 80 hectares planted with Malbec, Torrontés, Riesling, Tannat, Petit Verdot, Bonarda, Cabernet Franc, Syrah and Merlot, with another 40 hectares in development. The grapes are sourced from three vineyards: 'Finca Las Mercedes' (with deep sandy soils); 'Finca San Isidro' (with rocky soils); and 'Finca Amalaya', which has fractured rocky soils and stones of varying sizes. Like the wines of their sister estate Bodega Colomé, the grapes benefit from being planted at altitude. The vines are drip irrigated using mountain run-off water that is stored in reservoirs because the average annual rainfall is only 150mm. The red wines are fermented in small concrete tanks, while the white wines are fermented in stainless steel tanks. All of the Amalaya wines are fruit driven in style, with a finesse that unites them. These wines offer incredible value for their quality, and truly reflect their sense of place.
French winemaker Thibaut Delmotte has been at the helm here and at Bodega Colomé since 2005 and has really taken them forwards. His winemaking philosophy includes minimal intervention, the use of indigenous yeasts in fermentations and restrained use of oak, so that the characteristic freshness and purity of fruit used is never overwhelmed.