The altitude of Tarija Bolivian’s wines !
So, to taste the Bolivians wines, must be earned ! Tarija, around 1900 meters high, had among the highest vineyard in the world. Then, take a big breath, let’s go !
All start in the airport with a map which welcomes you: « Ruta del Viño e Singani de Altura ». That’s a good thing, I came for that ! Quick visit of the town (lovely) and try of œnotourism. “Try” because when you come alone, as a freelancer, the bodegas are mostly surprised and the production sometimes really artisanal. So, in the Casa Vieja (20 km from Tarija), the wine is strong and sweet, for a local consumption and a tasting really local to: 11 wines, 11 glasses, 11 persons. Did you understand ? One glass for each wine !?! But you can eat there to, the view on the vineyards is worth, and goes with folkloric music. After that, way to the bodega calls “industrial”: la Concepcion. Stunned, the manager gets organised an enjoyable visit within the vineyards. However, the tasting of the Syrah and the Cabernet Sauvignon Joven is a deception: really simple, without length or personality. But not discouraged, yet, way to Campos de Solana, about ten km from Tarija.
With its 14 years old, this bodega appears like a new one. However, the quality didn’t wait. Then, the Malbec Joven is fresh and fruity, kept by a good acidity. But the surprise was the Tri Reserva 2011. From Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec and Tannat, it’s complex, fleshy, with smelty tanins. A good job and a real heart-stopper for this production ! And yet, as the staff explains me, it’s not a small issue to do it.
Introduced by the Spanish Jesuits, the wine became industrialised 20 years ago. So, it needed to select the grapes able to get used to this altitude (until 2400m !!!). The Malbec, the Tannat or even the Merlot were these who enjoyed the benefits. The small number of cold days makes up for the altitude and allows interesting yields. And the term “wine of altitude” became a true benchmarck !
Unfortunately, I can’t visit all the bodegas. However, there an issue: the Vinoteca of Tarija. All the producers are there, with glass of wine and house price. Well, I was seduced by the Tannat 2012 of Aranjuez, with tertiary aromas of farm, leather anf coffe. Or even the Merlot 2011 of Sausini with red fruits and smelty tanins. All matching with a good plate of cheese, it’s perfect !
But I couldn’t leave Tarija, without tasting the famous Singani. And for that, way to Casa Real, the most important producer of the country. The visit is free, interesting and really instructive. Eau-de-vie from the Muscat of Alexandrie, it’s still really aromatic and be drunk easily…
Well, cheers !!!