Saturday, 20 June 2015

Cafayate

Aside from Mendoza, Argentina's most prominent wine-making region, Cafayate is the place to go to try the world famous local wines, whether you're a vino connoisseur or just appreciate a good tipple. Although Cafayate is a tourist destination it has managed to keep hold of its small-town feel with many bodegas a short walk from the central square, which is lined with restaurants and artesian fayre. 

Vineyards are synonymous with beautiful mountainous scenery set in a balmy environment due to the micro climate necessary to grow the grapes. Cafayate is famous for its Torrentes white wine which although dry still has a floral flavour upon initially tasting; many bodegas in the area produce Torrentes with their own slight influence on the taste but any good bottle is perfect to sit in the sun with - something we did quite regularly during our time in Cafayate!

The bodegas range in what they offer here but typically for a small fee or sometimes even for free, you can take a tour which includes entry to the production factories, a short introduction to the wine making process and most importantly, tasting the wines. 

Wine is made through a fermentation process which differs in longevity depending on the colour of the grape as red wine producing grapes taking on average twice as long as white. There are three different types of wine made in Cafayate; young, reserve and grand reserve. The difference comes from the process after fermentation. Young wine will sit in a 'pool' which is essentially a concrete block meaning the flavours remain quite simple, reserve wine is stored in oak barrels for a short period whereas grand reserve is left in the barrels for upto two years. The barrels themselves used in Cafayate are either French or American oak which is has a huge impact on flavour. For example a wine stored in an American oak barrel will come out with hints of coffee and vanilla meaning the flavours of a wine aren't solely down to the grape.

*Interesting fact: white wine can be made with red or white grapes. The difference is that when making white wine the skin of the grape is taken off and separated hence the light colour; it's the skin of the grape which gives red wine its dark plummy colour.*

The wine hype extends even further than just the liquid form - here in Cafayate vino helado or wine ice cream is a popular artisan treat and is definitely worth spending a little extra to give it a try. Thankfully it is more like sorbet than ice cream which works really well as the icy consistency cleanses the palette after every mouthful so you can fully appreciate the prominent wine flavour.

If wine is not your thing then Cafayate might be worth missing out as for three days that was all our time seemed to be spent on, but it is a secluded gem of a town which can offer a little slice of relaxation with delicious wine to top off the perfect experience.