The elegant appeal of Bolivian wines that you need to know more about
At nearly 2,000 meters above sea level, Bolivian winegrowers carry on a centuries-old tradition initiated by Jesuit missionaries with the aim of conquering a niche market with their unique product.
In the south of the Tarija department, at the foot of the Andes, the little-known Bolivian vineyards are eclipsed between the two regional wine giants: Argentina and Chile.
These two countries are respectively the seventh and eighth wine producers in the world and share 200,000 hectares of vineyards.
Tarija’s 5,000 hectares of vineyards enjoy a temperate climate with intense sunshine during the day and humidity at night, the region being protected from strong northerly winds.
“The altitude means we have less of the ozone layer filtering out the rays, which means there is more ultraviolet rays at higher altitudes… which produces a plant response,” the plant said. oenologist Nelson Sfarcich.
This in turn produces thicker grape skins and a higher content of resveratrol, a chemical that is believed to protect against cancer and heart disease.
Maria Jose Granier, owner of the artisanal vineyard Jardin Oculto, declares that “the altitude allows the vines to go dormant in winter, to germinate in summer and to have a better reproductive cycle”.
Smooth and solid
Bolivian wine production is mainly concentrated between 21 and 23 degrees latitude at 1,600 to 2,000 meters above sea level.
But there are crops in the hot Andean areas up to 3000 meters.
Helmut Kohlberg, winemaker, says that wines from high altitude vineyards “are very different” from others because of “an interesting concentration of aromas” and a unique color.
“The tannins ripen very well and we get grapes that have very ripe and supple tannin seeds. It is really quite striking.
Granier says these Bolivian offerings appeal to those who “love elegant wines. These are wines that do not have a very high alcohol content, but rather have sweet aromas and strong flavors at the same time.
Independent sommelier Carla Molina Garcia says that the famous Muscat of Alexandria, used in 70 percent of the wine crops grown in Bolivia, produces “sweet wines that are quite aromatic.”
Wine, mainly from Spain, was first cultivated in Bolivia by Jesuits who arrived in the Potosi region near Tarija in the 17th century.
They were drawn to the area, like many lay people, due to the rush for gold and silver mining.
In 1625, Potosi was one of the largest cities in the world with around 165,000 inhabitants.
With barely eight million hectoliters, mostly sold domestically, Bolivia’s wine production is eclipsed by that of Argentina or Chile.
A few bottles of sparkling wine are sold in China and the best Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Merlot, Tannat and Port are offered by wine merchants in the United States, and sometimes even in France and Japan.
And it is the aromatic nature of these altitude wines that pushes winegrowers to target a niche and quality market.
The growing popularity of wines has coincided with a gastronomic boom in La Paz, which relies heavily on local flavors.
“There is no great potential for (physical) expansion, but in terms of quality, there is a lot to do,” Garcia said.
“In a few years, we hope that Bolivia will be truly known as a wine country. Small, of course, but with distinctive wines.
(Main and Featured Image: Elle Hughes / Unsplash)
This article was published via ETX Daily Up.