El Montañista

Valle de Calingasta

Avid mountaineers Pancho and Nuria Bugallo make artisan wines from heritage varietals in the Calingasta Valley between the Cordillera Frontal and the foothills of San Juan, north of Mendoza province. It’s a unique climate, continental in the extreme, with a high diurnal range due to the altitude of 1,500 metres. There's a long history of winemaking in Caligasta, you can find old vine Criolla varieties, planted in the parral (tendone) system, which protects the grapes during the strong summer sunshine. It's here agronomist Pancho and his wife Nuria cultivate plots of 80+ year-old vines including Criolla Grande, Criolla Chica (Pais), Moscatel Rosado, Tinto and Blanco, and Cereza. They work traditionally, that's to say organically: the dry climate and remoteness of the valley means the vines aren’t afflicted by many pests and diseases; sheep keep the undergrowth in check, their manure acts as fertiliser; and irrigation is via a furrow system. Grapes are hand harvested in the morning when it's cool, and fermentation is with natural yeasts in large concrete tanks. The wines age in concrete eggs, clarifying naturally during the cold winter months.

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Region - San Juan