Most wines we taste from Argentina are made in the sprawling Mendoza region, just over the Andes Mountains from Santiago, Chile, and at about the same latitude. It is a great region for producing wines.
We have heard much less about Salta Province, a more compact wine region far to the north of Mendoza, although a few quality producers from the region have had their wines in the United States for several years.
Paul Hobbs, the one-man conglomerate who produces, consults about, and imports wines, has been working for some years now with the Marcuzzi family and their high-altitude vineyards at El Porvenir winery in the Cafayate area of Salta. Last year he became sole importer to the United States for the wines.
Here is a sampling of their wines that I just tasted.
El Porvenir “Amauta Absoluto” Cafayate torrontés 2014 ($18). Like most fragrant grapes, torrontés’ perfume can be either muted or accented. Here, it almost reaches cologne levels. How well you like this wine will probably depend on that factor. On the palate, it has attractive soft fruitiness with a needed edge of bitters and minimal apparent acidity.
El Porvenir “Laborum” Cafayate torrontés 2013 ($15). Barrel-fermented, this torrontés is also highly perfumed, but seems more complex and inviting with its flavors of creamy pears and apples and notes of honeysuckle. Nevertheless, it has a pleasant assertiveness.
El Porvenir “Laborum” Cafayate tannat 2013 ($23). Quite good. Spicy berry flavors abound in this tart but full-bodied wine that finishes with notes of dark chocolate. It should age well.
El Porvenir “Amauta Absoluto” Cafayate tannat 2014 ($17). Also quite good, with tart cherry flavors, good overall piquancy, and solid tannins.
El Porvenir “Amauta Corte I Inspiracion” Cafayate red wine 2013 ($25). A blend of 60 percent malbec, 30 percent cabernet sauvignon, and 10 percent syrah, it has a lot of ripe cherry and raspberry fruitiness with pleasantly herbal, savory edges. A good balance of “nots” — not overly fruit forward, and not overly tannic.