Argentina’s Bodega Colomé: Wines of Today, Yesterday, and Tomorrow
Bodega Colomé winery
Over dinner recently, I had the opportunity to chat with and taste through many of the current releases from Argentina’s Colomé with winemaker Thibaut Delmotte. Bodega Colomé has an extremely long history in Argentina dating back to the early 1800s. Some 20 years ago, Vintner Donald Hess, the namesake owner of Napa Valley’s Hess Collection, among others, purchased Bodega Colomé. This winery sits in the Calchaquí Valleys of Salta. This is a region a bit less known in the U.S. than Mendoza, but that’s changing.
The combination of the Hess ownership and winemaker Thibaut Delmotte has seen the Colomé brand take new shape. Additional vineyards were purchased and planted. New wines were added to the portfolio which reflects a more modern style of winemaking. A second winery (Amalaya) was founded that focuses on wines aimed at everyday drinking. In tasting through the releases below, with food, I found a lot to like. Of primary importance, the wines are distinct from each other, something too often not the case when tasting multiple examples of the same variety. In their respective price points, they offer value for those dollars and sheer delicious drinkability. If you’re not familiar with Colomé, I suggest you grab one of the wines below and treat your palate to some tasty wine from Argentina.
Amalaya White 2015 ($12)
This offering is a blend of torrontés (85 percent) and riesling (15 percent). Fermentation took place in stainless steel — this wine sees no oak contact. This white blend is precisely the sort of offering that comes to mind when I’m looking for a welcome wine. I love handing my guests something refreshing with bits of fruitiness, spice, and crisp acid. This one leads with bits of savory herb and lychee on the nose. The palate shows off white peach, green apple, and pepper. Minerals and more are present on the lovely finish. Whether you pair this with light food or serve it as a welcome wine, you’ll struggle to do better for $12.
Amalaya Malbec 2014 ($16)
In addition to malbec (85 percent), smaller amounts of syrah (10 percent), and cabernet sauvignon (five percent). After stainless steel fermentation, 25 percent of the wine was aged in once-used French oak for 10 months, the balance in tank. Red plum and raspberry aromas are prominent on the nose here. The palate is loaded with oodles of fresh, juicy fruit flavors. Those flavors lean red and are tinged with hints of black fruit. A hint of vanilla and sour black cherry appear on the finish, which has good length. This is a terrific red wine for the money. For around $15, it’s a great choice for everyday drinking. Grab a case and drink it over the next year or two.
Colomé Torrontés 2015 ($15)
This wine is composed entirely of torrontés from vines with 30-60 years of age on them. Fermentation and aging took place in stainless steel. Lots of apricot and lychee aromas dominate the nose here. Bits of toasted hazelnut are present as well. Those characteristics are joined by tangerine zest on the even keeled palate. The finish is above average in length and framed by zippy acid. This is a terrific example of Argentina’s signature white grape.
Colomé Auténtico Malbec 2014 ($25)
This offering is all malbec; the vines sourced had an average age of 90 years at harvest. This wine was made in a style that harkens back to the winery’s oldest days and thus sees minimal manipulation, including no oak contact. Colomé produces this wine specifically for restaurant wine lists. Dark black fruits tinged with a gentle hint of tar mark the pretty and engaging nose. A boatload of blackberry fills the full, fruity and lush palate; a touch of vanilla creeps in as well. The finish shows off continued dark fruit flavors and hints of spice. This is a unique example of malbec that is simply loaded with a purity of fruit that astounds the senses.
Colomé Estate Malbec 2013 ($25)
Colomé’s Etsate Malbec is a cuvée style offering with fruit sourced at four of their Estate Vineyards. Black raspberry aromas, wisps of vanilla bean, and more are apparent on the welcoming nose. The palate shows off blackberry, plum, and continued raspberry. Black tea, minerals, and spice are all apparent on the long finish. This well-rounded offering benefits from being composed of fruit from various parts of their estate. Each parcel adds different elements to the wine. I enjoyed each of these wines, but this is the one I’ll reach for most often.
Colomé Altura Maxima Malbec 2012 ($125)
Altura Maxima is a single vineyard malbec. Sitting at an elevation of more than 10,000 feet, the vineyard is the highest in the world. In South America, many wineries produce an icon wine. In a sense, it’s the winemaker taking a shot at the brass ring. The winemaker takes the best fruit and produces the ultimate expression possible can from their property. This is Colomé’s icon wine. Dark, rich fruit aromas are joined by bacon fat on the stunning nose. Boysenberry, blueberry, and a host of other deep, dark, juicy fruit flavors are strewn throughout the rich, layered palate. Firm acid, bits of roasted espresso, and a dusting of cocoa are all evident on the persistent finish. This wine is big and rich, but still fresh and balanced. It’s a terrific wine now and promises to improve with bottle age. As the vines themselves gain age, future vintages promise to impress even more.