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Tacuil

In November 2009 we took the plunge and headed into the heart of Salta Province in the remote far north of Argentina in search of some of the amazing wines we had heard exist in this, most far-flung of vinous corners. Why the intrepid-explorer tone you might ask? Well, this isn’t like hopping on an Easyjet flight to some European vineyard; when you get to Buenos Aires the journey has barely even begun. After a bumpy internal flight up to Salta city, we naively thought we’d hire a car. No! In the end our trip required a seasoned guide and outdoorsman who negotiated the hair-raising journey by ‘road’ to our final destination in a humungous 4 x 4. Normal cars can’t get to Tacuil!

We drove past the famous Colomé winery thinking we had already scaled Salta Province’s stunning heights with aplomb, but the road to Tacuil takes you higher still, way up into the mountains to just over 2,500 metres above sea level, in fact. From a narrow stone track we perched precariously and gazed down, awestruck, at what can only be described as an oasis in the high, dry mountains.

In fact, Colomé, now owned by the Hesse Group, was originally owned by Raul Dávalos, owner of Bodega Tacuil. After selling the larger winery down in the valley some years ago he moved back up to Tacuil, which has been in his family for generations, to pursue his singular vision of making amazing, totally uncompromising, usually unoaked, mainly red wines. Coming here truly is like stepping back in time. This is not one of your ultra-modern wineries replete with shiny stainless steel tanks in every corner. We sat in the humble family dining area and ate delicious asado meat and tasted the stunning selection of wines on offer. Snr. Dávalos' son, Raul Junior, is now gradually taking the reigns as winemaker here; slowly and patiently he is introducing a few changes at Tacuil. The latest development is an oak aged red wine (Doña Ascensión Malbec Cabernet Sauvignon) and this was the brainchild of another close family member, Francisco Morelli Rubio, nephew of Snr. Dávalos and Export Manager for the company.

These wines are unique, and that’s why we had to bring them back to the UK. The alcohol is high, an unavoidable by-product of the relentless sunshine, but the wines are beautifully balanced, immaculately defined. By choice, and necessity, absolutely everything is done by hand and, above all, no compromise is made in the crafting of these magnificent, utterly extreme wines.

www.tacuil.com.ar

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