21 Jan Please The Palate Pick of the Week: Wine and Tapas with Bodega Colomé Winemaker Thibaut Delmotte at the Cara Cara Rooftop at the Proper Hotel Downtown LA
I braved the traffic of Los Angeles to head downtown this week. It took more than an hour and a half to drive 10 miles, which was frustrating. I arrived at the Proper Hotel in downtown LA and took the elevator to the Penthouse floor, feeling a little stressed from the traffic. I was greeted with a glass of fresh, aromatic rosé and took a look at the view in front of me and I began to relax. More wines were poured, tapas were tray-passed, and heat lamps warmed us in the fresh evening air. Tasting the wines of Bodega Colomé from Argentina with winemaker Thibaut Delmotte on the Cara Cara Rooftop at the Downtown LA Proper Hotel was the Please The Palate pick of the week.
About Bodega Colomé
Bodega Colomé is located in the Calchaquí Valleys in Salta, Argentina. In 2001, entrepreneurs Donald and Ursula Hess were drawn to this remote place with the world’s highest altitude vineyards. The first vineyard he purchased was the El Arenal vineyard which sits at 2600 meters (8500 feet). Two years later he expanded to include Colomé, the oldest continually producing winery in Argentina which dates back to 1831. This property sits at 2300 meters (7500 feet). With the wines of Bodega Colomé, Donald Hess pioneered a new category called “high altitude wines.” Today, the winery is run by the second generation, Larissa and Christoph Ehrbar.
Thibaut Delmotte has been the winemaker at Bodega Colomé since 2005. He is originally from France and worked in Burgundy and Bordeaux before coming to Argentina. His winemaking style is let the wines express the unique character of the high altitude. The grapes are grown sustainably and he uses native yeasts in the fermentation.
The Wines of Bodega Colomé
Standing on the rooftop, the first sip of wine we had was the Bodega Amalaya Rosé made from a blend made of Malbec and Torrontes. Bodega Amalaya is a second brand from Bodega Colomé owners Larissa and Christoph Ehrbar. The wine was vibrant with floral and red berries notes and was a refreshing way to wake up the palate. We were then ready to enjoy a selection of the Bodega Colomé wines.
We started with the Colomé 2022 Torrontés. Torrontés is flagship white wine of Argentina. This wine, with aromatic notes of grapefruit and flowers, has racy acidity, good texture, and a long finish. After enjoying the one white wine, it was time to move on to four expressions of Malbec. I anticipated big, dark, ripe wines, as that is what I often associate with Malbec. But these Malbecs are not from the warmer Mendoza area. Being from the northern part of Argentina and coming from high altitude vineyards, the Malbec from Colomé is the opposite of what I expected.
The Colomé 2021 Estate Malbec is a blend of Malbec from four different vineyards and altitudes [“La Brava” vineyard (1700 meters), “Colomé” vineyard (2300 meter), “El Arenal” vineyard (2700 meters), and “Altura Máxima” (3100 meters). The wine is bright and elegant with aromas of ripe blackberries, floral notes, a touch of pepper and spice, and minerality.
The Colomé 2021 Auténtico Malbec comes from the “Auténtico” vineyard that is located at 2300 meters and first planted in 1831. This wine does not see any oak and is a pure expression of the grape. The wine is bright with cherry, cassis, baking spice, and mineral notes.
The Colomé 2020 El Arenal Malbec is sourced from the “El Arenal” vineyard that sites at 2600 meters above sea level. This was the first vineyard planted by Donald and Ursula Hess in 2001. This wine is a single vineyard wine that comes from an extreme altitude. The wine has freshness and power; it is elegant with structured tannins.
The Colomé 2018 1831 Malbec comes from the vines that were planted in 1831. More than 100 years old, the vines sit at 2300 meters above sea level. The wine is concentrated with ripe black fruit and spice and floral notes. The tannins are smooth and the acidity is present. Drinking wines from old vines is always a special treat.
All of these wines were enjoyed with tapas prepared by Cara Cara which included beef with chimichurri wrapped in lettuce, roasted cauliflower, and focaccia pizza.
By the end of the evening, the drudgery of my drive downtown was long forgotten and it only took 15 minutes to get home. Ah, the joys of LA traffic. Thank you to Bodega Colomé for brightening my week.