“More than the accomplishments, I think I have enjoyed the process. I know where we started forty years ago. I know the work that we did in those early years at Catena, the progress we made over three decades. And I see where we are now at Salentein…not finished, but closer to our goal. And I think of all the people who have made this possible, and are still working towards this goal today. That is very rewarding. And now that I am at Salentein, it makes me even more excited about the work we can do in the future.” - José "Pepe" Galante reflects on his 40th harvest.
Winemaker José "Pepe" Galante is in a class all by himself. Considered the father of modern winemaking in Argentina, Galante's extraordinary talents were instrumental in garnering international respect for Malbec and other Argentine varietals. Galante's career, 30 years at Catena and the past 10 at Bodegas Salentein, is the stuff of legend. Celebrating his 40th harvest this year, Galante shows no signs of slowing down and the superb quality of his wines eloquently reflect his vast experience and innate artistry.
I was introduced to Galante and Bodegas Salentein at a tasting last year and was instantly intrigued by this humble & soft-spoken man who produced such balanced and complex wines. Malbec has long been one of my favorite varietals and Galante's wines capture the beauty, finesse, and power of Argentina's signature grape. Under Galante's leadership, Bodegas Salentein, located on the eastern slopes of the Andes, pioneered premium winemaking in the Uco Valley. His tremendous success has inspired countless others. However, Bodegas Salentein remains the "single biggest cool climate estate" in Mendoza and a leader in showcasing the many personalities of Malbec. I recently had the honor of sitting down with Galante for some wine and conversation during his recent visit to NYC. Here are a few of the wonderful Bodegas Salentein vinos that we enjoyed. Give them a swirl!
Bodegas Salentein Gran VU Blend ($120)
A tribute to Salentein's commitment to the Valle de Uco (hence the name VU), fewer than 6,000 bottles of this luxury range wine were produced. A majestic blend of Malbec (73%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (27%), Salentein Gran VU displays great finesse. A voluptuous and vivacious vino with beautiful flavors of dark berry and spices with a hint of earth and leather - the freshness of the fruit shines through. Galante calls Gran VU "the crowning glory of years of work and research in our quest to understand the terroir that we have identified and selected to produce the best wines in Argentina."
Bodegas Salentein Numina Gran Corte Uco Valley 2012 ($41)
One of my favorites from the Salentein portfolio, Numina is Latin for the spiritual essence of a place or natural object. An intriguing blend of Malbec (64%), Cabernet Sauvignon (18%), Merlot (11%), Cabernet Franc (5%), and Petit Verdot (2%), Numina expertly captures the unique essence of each grape to create a wine of great beauty. Grand and velvety, this vino is full-bodied and fruit-forward with appealing flavors of dark fruit, spice, and cassis with a seductive lingering finish.
Bodegas Salentein Malbec Reserve 2013 ($18.99)
Galante is not only an expert at blending Malbec with other varietals, he absolutely makes an exquisite 100% Malbec. The Malbec Reserve 2013 is a great introduction to the Salentein/Galante style: fresh and beautiful fruit with vibrant acidity. I loved the flavors of luscious dark berries anchored by a subtle earthiness.
Bodegas Salentein Single Vineyard Chardonnay San Pablo 2013 ($31)
One of the most intriguing things that I learned about Pepe Galante is that this Malbec maven absolutely adores Chardonnay - and he certainly makes a delicious one. All of the Chardonnay grapes in this single vineyard beauty come from the San Pablo estate - Salentein's highest vineyard and one that Galante describes as having a perfect microclimate. Refreshing and crisp with exuberant citrus flavors and a marvelous minerality, this Chardonnay is elegant yet easygoing.
I've only scratched the surface of the Bodegas Salentein portfolio and Galante's winemaking prowess but I am absolutely impressed with the integrity and quality of the wines. Join me in raising a glass and congratulating Pepe on his 40th harvest!
If you're planning a trip to the Mendoza region of Argentina, Salentein welcomes guests for tastings and tours. Accommodations and dining are available at the exclusive Posada Salentein. Learn more at the Bodegas Salentein website.