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Amalaya 2010, Argentina

Cost: $16-18

What: This unusual blend produces a wonderful mellow, smooth taste that you would enjoy on many occasions.

Though the wine is primarily Malbec, it has some Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Tannat to make for a more complex, layered taste. The word “Amalaya” means hope for a miracle, a reference to the attitude of the Argentine people who live in the rugged mountainous region where the grapes are grown.

The grapes come from the Calchaqui Valley in the northwestern region of Argentina, in the eastern foothills of the Andes Mountains. The vineyards are between 5,250 and 5,580 feet above sea level. The soil and the harsh, dry weather produce excellent growing conditions for great grapes, with hot days and cool nights. The vineyards are sustainably farmed.

Amalaya

A brilliant ruby color leads to aromas of bright cherries and raspberries. The smooth taste is full of ripe red berry fruit with a touch of spice and pepper. It has a smooth, lingering finish.

Argentina produces great Malbec, and the Amalaya is no exception. It is 75% Malbec 10% Cabernet Sauvigon, 10% Syrah and 5% Tannat, with the blend changing depending on the vintage. Malolactic fermentation took place in stainless steel tanks. Then 20% of the wine was aged in French oak for 10 months.

This probably isn’t a wine you want to cellar for long. It is drinking great now.

Winery: Amalaya, a recent spinoff from Bodega Colomé, is a perennial top value from the northern Salta region, and a part of Hess Family Latin America.
The region’s rugged landscape and high desert didn’t look like a grape growing area, but Donald Hess saw the potential for great wines. Amalaya and Colome produce flavorful and complex wines that make a case for the Calchaqui Valley as one of the great wine regions of Argentina.
Amalaya’s new home features a modern winery and a trio of vineyards, each with distinct soils and micro-climates that produce compelling fruit. The winery produces an Amalaya Tinto, an Amalaya Blanco and the Amalaya Gran Corte. The Tinto is the only one I have tasted and it is excellent. Hess imported 12,000 cases to the United States.

Goes with: After returning from a weekend in Atlanta my wife Teri and I didn’t feel like cooking so we just had a pizza with this wine. It turned out to be a very good match.

The blend was hearty enough to stand up to the pepperoni and Italian sausage on the pizza and fruity enough to match the tomato sauce.

It also would go well with grilled duck, venison steak, pork chops, red pasta sauces, beef stew and mild and medium cheeses. It also would be good to sip by itself because of its soft, round tannins.

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