Wine Destinations: Tucumán, Argentina

Wine Destinations:  Tucumán, Argentina

There are probably some of you who read the title with a puzzled expression on your face.  And, that’s okay, because until recently, this would not have been considered a wine region.  Tucumán is located in the northwest of Argentina and is the smallest province in the country.  Its name is derived from the word, “yucuman” ), or “a place where rivers are born”.  The 1.5 million inhabitants are from generations of a pre-Columbian era and Colonial Spaniards.  Thanks to the Spanish, who traveled, conquered and settled in many places of America, they brought the French vines along with them.  The grapes that reside in Argentina today were originally brought from Chile when the first colonists came over the Andes and stepped over the border.  We all know Mendoza, maybe San Juan and La Rioja, which were the first provinces that were the pioneers in wine production for Argentina.  Eventually other vineyards and wineries popped up in Cordoba, heading more northwest to Tucumáns neighboring Salta and Catamarca.

So why should they let their neighbors have all the fun or take all the credit?  Though they have been growing vines since early in the 20th century, they have yet to make a mark like the successful wine regions of Mendoza and Salta.  Tucumán, like Salta and Mendoza, is also nestled among towering mountains, creating varying microclimates, but with generally hot humid summers and dry winters.  These dramatic and intense conditions have made this small region famous in its mother country and is nicknamed, “The Garden of the Republic”.

Along with you and many others, I am just discovering this part of the wine world myself.  However, it all makes sense.  The climate conditions are right, the mountainous soils are right, and the lack of precipitation is perfect for growing grapes.  So, why the heck not, right?  A new winery that shares my sentiments is, Bodega Posse.  Bodega Posse’s mission is to produce wines of French varietals, with ambitions to be the market leader.  Posse’s entrepreneur, Jorge Posse brought the Amaicha Valley of Tucumán into the modern wine world with the development of high quality wines that are quickly becoming in high demand, even in exports.  Jorge plans to continue and expand by producing and marketing these wines under their own label to eventually create an entire line.  Have a look at the winery, and already you can see, that in just a short time, it has implemented and constructed a modern winery, equipped with the latest technology to make his ambitions a reality.  Jorge, along with maybe a small few, knows that Tucumán shows great potential for producing quality, memorable wines.

I’m convinced!  Especially after having Patriarca from Bodega Posse.  The 2007 75% Malbec and 25% Cabernet Sauvignon was bold.  Bold like, I-am-going-to-wear-this-sexy-dress-to-my-best-friend’s-wedding-who-happens-to-be-the-bride-and-look-hotter-than-her bold.  Yeah, that kind.  The nose might remind you of your grandfather’s cigars or his pipe tobacco, the spices are deep and dark, like a toasty cinnamon and perfumy clove.  Black berries and dark, ripe cherries will hit both your nose and mouth with an attack of refreshing tart cherries and raspberries.  I would not recommend this without a great burger or steak.  If you don’t have either of those ready, that’s fine actually, because it could use a little decantation.  Go ahead and throw that steak on the grill.  Oh yes, speaking of red meat, the wine has a hint of that too, meatiness with balanced but chewy tannins, but those will soften with decanting.  Though it’s a 2007, I would still cellar this for another 5-7 years, as it has plenty of potential.

Images/Bodega Posse

Posse has another one, Julio Julian, Reserve Malbec.  The aromas are smoky with hints of vanilla, with characteristics of what you would expect from an Argentine Malbec, with violets and ripe red fruits, plums, licorice and fresh ground pepper.  This wine also shows depth and intensity with much of what you get on the nose presenting on your palate.  It is definitely a full-bodied wine, but the acids come forth just enough to balance everything out and enhance the fruit with round tannins.  If you’re waiting a couple of years to try the first one, this is a great one to sip on, and anytime.

So that is your introduction to Tucumán.  If this is what they are starting with, then perhaps I would like to consider myself their first, and possibly biggest fan.  This bodega saw the potential, and like them, I hope there will be others!  I will be keeping an eye out and let you know if I discover what I think will be many more.