Valle Calchaqui: viticulture at lofty heights
In the Valle Calchaqui there are the highest growing areas not only in Argentina but in the whole world. 450 wineries use the unique terroir of the region for the cultivation of exquisite white wines and especially red wines.
Location and structure of Valle Calchaqui
The Valle Calchaqui wine region is located in northwest Argentina on the eastern slopes of the Andes. It comprises wine regions in the three provinces of Salta, Tucumán and Catamarca. Strictly speaking, Valle Calchaqui is not a single valley, but a continuous chain of smaller valleys in a larger double valley.
This is why the name in the plural, Valles Calchaquíes, is also common. The double valley was formed by the rivers Río Calchaquí and Río Santa Maria, which flow into the Río Guachipas. The region includes seven sub-regions where Valle Calchaquí wine is grown:
- Cachi, Molinos, San Carlos and Cafayate in the province of Salta
- Amaicha del Valle and Colalao in the province of Tucumán
- Santa Maria in the province of Catamarca
The Departamentos Cafayate around the town of the same name is regarded as the centre of viticulture in Valle Calchaqui. About half of the wine in the region is produced in this area. The quality of the wines from Cafayate is also considered to be particularly high.
The terroir of Valle Calchaqui
The soil in the wine-growing region is rocky and characterised by nutrient-poor, very well drained sand, which results in deep root growth of the vines. Due to its location in the rain shadow of the Andes, very little rain falls, 186 mm per year, which is also concentrated in a few summer months. Viticulture is therefore only possible with artificial irrigation.
Daytime temperatures average 27°C and nighttime temperatures average 15°C. The comparatively cool nights slow down the acid reduction in the grapes, which contributes significantly to the freshness and fruitiness of Valle Calchaqui wine. During the day, the combination of plenty of sunshine and altitudes between 1,500 and more than 3,000 metres plays out its strength.
The risk of frost at such high altitudes is avoided by using the frost-free period from October to April to grow grapes. To prevent sunburn on the grapes, many wineries make clever use of the shade of the surrounding mountains. The vines are planted so that they are in full sun from morning to early afternoon. During the hottest time of the day in the late afternoon, however, they are protected from direct sunlight by mountain shade.
What is Valle Calchaqui?
Valle Calchaqui is a wine-growing region in Argentina. Although the region represents only about 2 percent of Argentina's total vineyard area, it is disproportionately represented among the award-winning Argentinean wines. The cultivation conditions are ideal for fruity wines. Among the most popular grape varieties in the region are the red Malbec and the white Torrontés.
Wines from the Valle Calchaqui at VINELLO
If you would like to enter the wine region of Valle Calchaqui with a global superlative right away, the products of Bodega Colomé are the perfect choice. Here, in the Molinos wine region in Salta, the vines grow at an altitude of up to 3,111 metres - higher than in any other winery in the world. Try for example the Malbec Valle Calchaquí. The Malbec grapes grow on vines up to 150 years old. Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Petit Verdot and Tannat round off the lush mineral structure of the wine in a fruity and multi-layered manner.
You can order an Argentine red wine from Cafayate, the heart of Valle Calchaqui, with the Amalaya Tinto from Bodega Amalaya. Like Bodega Colomé, the winery is run by the Hess family from Switzerland and produces expressive wines with intense aromas.
Facts worth knowing about the Valle Calchaqui
Which red grape varieties are grown in Valle Calchaqui?
Among the red varieties most commonly grown in Valle Calchaqui are Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon and Tannat, as well as Merlot, Syrah and Bonarda.
Which white varieties are cultivated in Valle Calchaqui?
The dominant white grape varieties of the wine region are Torrontés. Cereza and Moscatel (muscatel) are also cultivated in large quantities.
How large is the area under vines in Valle Calchaqui?
The area under vines in Valle Calchaqui covers 4,191 hectares. Of these, 3,370 hectares are in Salta, 708 hectares in Tucumán and 113 hectares in Catamarca.
Order Valle Calchaqui wines online on VINELLO
Would you like to create your own tour of the Calchaqui Valley? Just browse through our range - VINELLO has many wonderful classics and exciting new discoveries in its programme. Discover the variety of wines and also benefit from our sommelier advice. Secure purchasing and guaranteed prompt delivery ensure that your enjoyment journey can begin quickly and takes you straight to the wine pleasure.