In the grand scheme of wine making in Argentina, Salta is almost an after-thought – producing only 1% of the country’s entire production from a mere 5,200 acres of vineyards. Nonetheless, the region can claim some of the finest quality wines to come from the whole of South America.
Part of the reason for this is Salta’s extreme location. Nestled amid the fertile Calchaqui Valley at the foot of the Andes mountains, the region lays claim to some of the highest vineyards in the world – some scraping the skies at over 3,000m above sea level.
The imposing red mountains littered with cacti and wandering alpacas create breathtaking natural views but also provide a rain shadow over the vineyards below, ensuring clear skies and low levels of waterfall – while conveniently providing irrigation through melt water descending from the snowy peaks. Together with all year-round sunshine and a wide variation in daytime and evening temperatures, Salta offers unique growing conditions for grapes to develop phenolic ripeness while retaining their natural acidity to produce bright, intensely flavoured wines.
Although several red and white varieties of Salta wine are produced here, the region is renowned as the epicentre for the country’s signature white wine Torrontés – the only 100% Argentinian white grape variety. Torrontés is grown elsewhere in Argentina but struggles to reach the same perfumed perfection as in Salta, and in particular the district of Cafayate – making the area a must travel destination for intrepid wine tourists. While Chardonnay is also produced in Salta, the Torrontés wines from Cafayate, which boast intense aromatics of fruity and floral tones and are rich or medium-bodied with a well-balanced acidity, have gained the most recognition on the international stage in recent years.
In Salta, Argentina wine red varietals are abundant, like the ubiquitous Malbec or Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot – while Tannat has recently grown in quality and popularity. These reds are overwhelmingly full-bodied and roasted in aroma and flavour – with alcohol levels approaching and often exceeding 15%. Malbecs produced from Salta are typically excellent in colour with black fruit and berry flavours coupled with medium acid and moderate tannins. Tannat, meanwhile, is a relatively rare grape that has found a home in the region – named after its naturally occurring high tannin levels, the wines here are well balanced as a consequence of their long hang times and concentrated fruits.
Our local experts can design exclusive tours of the region for you to discover Salta wines, its regional cuisine and more. Our private luxury tours can be tailor-made to meet your exact preferences and needs while ensuring that every last detail is taken care of. These include a private tour of the Cafayate region allowing visitors to explore the picturesque valley where alpacas roam freely and locals still dress in the traditional colourful clothing of the altiplano (high plain), as well as the wonderfully relaxed setting and welcoming atmosphere of the town itself.
Of course, there is also the opportunity to sample Salta wine grown at high altitudes as well as a bespoke local cuisine experience where wines are paired with specialities including a traditional asado (BBQ) and empanades or tamales in the bodega’s old colonial house.
For more information, visit our Argentina destination page and start planning an exclusive tour to taste the finest Salta wines from heavenly vineyards high in the mountains.