The true expression of terroir in this Malbec comes from the extreme altitude at which the vineyard sits, it receives much more sun, much less UV protection, producing thicker skinned grapes that deliver a more robust mouthfeel supported by fresh acidity.
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
The 2015 Altura Máxima Malbec is all black olives, decayed violets and malted cereals, a wild and unusual wine with high ripeness but a medium-bodied palate with fine-grained tannins. It is produced with grapes from their seven-year-old vineyard at 3,100 meters in altitude, the highest vineyard in the world producing commercial wine. The grapes were harvested fully ripe at the end of April, which is the equivalent to the end of October in the northern hemisphere. Here, latitude compensates for the altitude, and the grapes manage to ripen fully with strong exposure to sunlight. It matured in fourth use French barriques for 24 months. 6,900 bottles were filled in December 2017.
Donald Hess planted his Altura Máxima vineyard in 2007 at a dizzying 10,207 feet above sea level. Perhaps that’s why it takes this malbec takes time to emerge from hiding, though it’s saline from start to fi nish. After two days open, its structure is broad, and though the fl avors are restrained (a smoky umeboshi plum note), the austerity called to mind a salt fl at. The tannins seem to cluster in the center of your tongue, and would be nice with char-grilled chicken thighs.
The Salta region in northern Argentina is home to world’s highest vineyards. Near the town of Payogasta, the Colomé Altura Máxima vineyard is planted at 10,206 feet in elevation.
Salta is part of the Calchaquí Valley, which benefits from more than 300 days of sun per year, subjecting its vines to considerable ultraviolet radiation. The valley experiences strong high altitude winds, even in the “lower” vineyards, which are planted at 5,413 feet. Because of these elevations and resulting extreme conditions, vines produce lower yields and thicker-skinned grapes, resulting in concentrated, aromatic and well-structured wines.
In a truly unique region, the highly aromatic variety, Torrontes, thrives; intense sun exposure allows full ripening, while cooling winds maintain the grapes’ acidity levels and phenolic balance.
Upscale hotels, beautiful colonial architecture, a majestic Andean backdrop and impressive food and wine make the area attractive among tourists as well.
Salta is the fourth most important Argentine wine-producing region after Mendoza, San Juan, and La Rioja. Its oldest vineyards were planted in 1862.
Celebrated for its bold flavors and supple texture, Malbec has enjoyed runaway success in Argentina since the late 20th century. The grape originated in Bordeaux, France, where it historically contributed color and tannin to blends. A French agronomist, who saw great potential for the variety in Mendoza’s hot, high-altitude landscape, brought Malbec to Argentina in 1868. Somm Secret—If you’re trying to please a crowd, Malbec is generally a safe bet with its combination of dense fruit and soft tannins.