Editor’s Column: Pioneering Gualtallary

Amanda Barnes shares an interview with Terrazas de los Andes CEO Hervé Birnie-Scott and winemaker Marcos Fernandez from the emerging region of Gualtallary in Argentina. A version of this interview was originally published on The South America Wine Guide.

This past month I’ve been roaming around the vineyards of Argentina, revisiting old friends and catching up with some new developments too. For my Editor’s column, rather than share an article from the road, I have decided to share a video interview with one of the true pioneers of the renowned Gualtallary region of Argentina’s Uco Valley.

Gualtallary is in my opinion one of the most exciting terroirs and wine regions of the New World. It’s a large and diverse region, of around 2,250 hectares, but it is really one that helped put the cool climate wines of high altitude Uco Valley on the map. And not only for Malbec, but also for white wines too.

Terrazas de los Andes was a pioneer of the region, one of the first to plant in 1992 when the region was considered far too cold and hard to access for viticulture. CEO Hervé Birnie-Scott was there in 1992 and in this interview recalls the experience of planting and why he believed the region had potential, despite the doubts of many neighbours.

It was a bet that paid off for Terrazas, and one that inspired many others to plant in this emerging region. Today I’m even more excited by the potential of their new vineyard, El Espinillo, which is at the highest altitude in Gualtallary and is making a very unique expression of Malbec at 1,650 m.a.s.l.. Winemaker Marcos Fernandez explains a bit about this remarkable vineyard in the interview too, and some of the key characteristics of the wine.

The success of Gualtallary was a great surprise in the early 1990s, but it’s a region that still continues to surprise and delight as winemakers delve even deeper – or higher – into this grand cru of the south.