Tuesday, August 1, 2023

Bodegas Otronia, Wines from the Very End of the World

Most of us are very familiar with the great Malbec wines that Argentina successfully produces and exports, but today I would like to direct your focus further south, to the province of Chubut, where very interesting wines are coming into shape.

This province of Chubut, in the Argentinean Patagonia, is located 2,000 km from Mendoza (the Napa of Argentina), its location at 45º latitude south puts this province at the very limit where viticulture is still possible. The province as we can see in the map below, is surrounded by the Andes in the west and the Atlantic in the east.

Here, near the town of Sarmiento and facing Lake Munster, is the location where Bodegas Otronia, a certified organic wine producer, planted 50 hectares of vines divided in two distinctive plots.

Of course, every great wine is the result of the perfect combination of a unique soil and climate. The climate in Chubut is very cold but also very dry and sunny, with an average yearly temperature of only 56º Fahrenheit and less than 200 mm of rain per year. Frost is often an issue, sometimes arriving in the middle of the growing season, and then, there are the raging winds, some as strong as 100 km/h coming from the Pacific Ocean that are truly felt in the vineyards. This happens, because the Andes that act as a barrier in Mendoza, where they reach well above 6,000 meters, reach only 700 meters in Chubut, allowing the winds to come through. In an effort to protect the vines from these fierce winds, Bodegas Otronia planted poplar trees all around their vineyards to shield them.  And then, there is the soil, a magic combination of 4 different ones, as the plots are located on what used to be the riverbed of a lake, featuring Lacustrine (lake clay) eolian sands, alluvial loams and fluvial and gravelly deposits from the Senguer river.












Location of the vineyards, photo courtesy of Bodegas Otronia.


During his visit to New York a week ago, Enologist Juan Pablo Murgia presented three of his wines, and explained in detail the uniqueness of the terroir behind them and how this translates into very focused wines with purity of fruit and elegant acidity.  A believer in minimum winemaking intervention, he ferments certified organic grapes with native yeasts in concrete egg- shaped containers, and ages his wines in untoasted French oak foudres that can contain 2,500 and 5,000 liters for 12 to 20 months. 

My 3 recommendations are the wines shown by Bodegas Otronia during their presentation. By the way, the winery’s name Otronia, means “land of Otron” which is the name that the natives used to give to Lake Munster.

*Otronia 45 Rugientes Corte de Blancas 2020, $39.95

Refined white made from a blend of 48% Chardonnay, 27% Gewurztraminer and 26 % Pinot Grigio. Murgia explained what each variety contributed to this blend, Chardonnay provides the texture and weight, Gewurztraminer the delicious floral notes and Pinot Grigio its vivid acidity. Very elegant indeed! A fragrant and crisp wine that boasts attractive jasmine floral notes, with citrusy lime and grapefruit nuances. Glossy on the palate with a mineral finish.

*Otronia Block I Pinot Noir 2020, $89.95

Ethereal red, featuring plush raspberry and bright red cherry notes with forest floor tones and super silky and spicy tannins. Memorable and delicious, made from fruit planted in Block I, where clay soils predominate.

*Otronia Block III and IV Chardonnay 2020, $89.95

Classy! This wine shows zesty acidity, a characteristic of fine cool climate whites, featuring juicy white peach and green apple peel with thyme and chamomile nuances. Simply delicious and mouthwatering with a persistent smoky finish. Very much reminiscent of fine Chablis and my fave of this trio. Cheers! Silvina


#thoughtsoflawina #drinkupamerica #Chubut  #winesofargentina #bodegasotronia