South American Pinot Noir: Pinot with a passport, part 1

The Wine of the Week: Taymente Pinot Noir

by Annette Tomei

2015 Huarpe, Taymente, Pinot Noir, Tunuyan, Argentina 2015 Huarpe, Taymente -- A South American Pinot Noir

When place is in question, Pinot Noir is certainly one of the most persnickety grapes. It has strong preferences regarding climate, soil conditions, and elevation – certainly not voted “most likely to travel the world.” However, there is such thing as Pinot Noir with a passport! This grape, native of the Burgundy region of France, has passport stamps from nearly every country in Europe, and almost every continent. Over the next several weeks, we will enjoy a flight of Pinot Noirs from unique locations around the world, starting with a South American Pinot Noir.

Our journey begins far from French soil, in the mountains of Argentina. Tunuyan is a sub region of the Uco Valley in Mendoza. The fruit for this wine comes from vineyards situated at over 3200 feet above sea level. This altitude plays a key role in developing its terroir. Pinot Noir likes its sunshine, but needs a cool, breezy climate and even slightly challenging conditions to develop the ideal structure and complexity.

The Toso brothers, proprietors and operators of Bodegas y Vinedos Huarpe, have deep roots in the wine industry of Mendoza. Their ancestor, Pasqual Toso – an Italian pioneer of the wine industry there, began making wine in Agrelo in the late 1800s. The name Huarpe honors the indigenous people of the Agrelo region. Taymente (meaning “roots of eternal life”) is the flagship brand of the three produced by Huarpe.

About this Wine

The fruit for this deep red hued wine was hand harvested and the wine aged for twelve months in new American and French oak barrels. Aromas of dark soil, forest floor, and earthy mushroom are joined by dark cherry, cola, and pipe tobacco on the palate. This South American Pinot Noir feels rich and luxurious on the palate, despite coming in at only 12.6% ABV. The tannins and acidity are well balanced. And the finish is long with a pleasant deep earthiness.

Though enjoyable on its own, this wine is at its best with good food. I enjoyed it with a selection of Italian specialties – prosciutto, salumi, bresaola. Another favorite pairing is grilled octopus over heirloom bean salad. Though the flavor of the wine may be rich, the body remains light for a red. Don’t overwhelm it. Stick with lighter, but flavorful meats (roast chicken or pork), hearty grains, and grilled or sautéed vegetables.

The Verdict

This South American Pinot Noir became an instant favorite for me. It speaks to my love of old world style with new world sensibilities, food friendliness, and a perfect price point for weekday enjoyment (average $15/bottle). I tasted the 2015 vintage. The current vintage is 2016 with 2017 coming soon. I expect the 2016 to be more fruit than earth, but also expect it to be equally enjoyable.

I hope you enjoyed the first pour of our Pinot with a Passport flight, and that you will continue to join me over the next few weeks as we continue our summertime flights of fancy!

For more about where I enjoyed this and other flights, please visit here.

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