The route to the vineyards of Bodegas El Porvenir de los Andes starts in the city of Salta, widely considered the best-preserved colonial city of Argentina. From Salta, visitors ascend steadily through breathtaking scenery until reaching the vineyards, at 5,740 feet above sea level.
When most people think about Argentina's high-altitude vineyards, their thoughts turn towards Mendoza. But Cafayate, part of the province of Salta, in the far northern reaches of Argentina, is the country's true high-altitude wine-growing region. Here, it's a desert climate with large day/night temperature swings. The soil is dry and rocky, stressing the vines, a great formula for concentration.
Family-owned, Bodegas El Porvenir de los Andes limits annual production to 100,000 bottles annually. The Laborum Amauta 2004 ("Amauta" was the wise man in the Incan empire, and means "the one who teaches how to live.") is a blend of 60% Malbec, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 10% Syrah. The wine is aged in new and used French and American oak for eight months.
The wine is almost-black purple in color, and reveals mocha, dark berry, and plum marmalade notes, with something earthy and Old World also peeking through. On the palate it is incredibly smooth and well-balanced, with the oak in perfect harmony with the deep, dark fruits. The finish is very long, without any bitterness or overpowering alcohol notes.
Pair this wine with steak au poivre and pommes frites.