You may know Mexican singer Consuelo Velázquez for her famous 1940s bolero, “Bésame Mucho.” But it was her other bolero, “Amar y Vivir,” (listen to a great version here) that inspired the name of one of the most exciting wines in our new Argentine collection: the 2018 Amar y Vivir malbec and cabernet sauvignon blend from the winery of Arca Yaco.

More on that in a moment... But first, how is coffee like wine? This week, resident wine expert Julien Miquel talks us through wine’s most important component: acid. He shows us how acid makes wine different from liquor or beer… the secret to longevity in wine… the winemaker’s trick to a creamy, buttery mouthfeel… and more…

The Etchart family has been making wine around Cafayate, the small town at the center of the Calchaquí Valley’s wine trade, since 1850. The 52 medal-winning wine brand “Bodegas Etchart” came about in the 1980s, when Arnaldo B. Etchart hired the French oenologist Michel Rolland to modernize his vineyard at La Florida.

Long-time readers will recognize Michel Rolland as the Frenchman almost single-handedly responsible for the rebirth of the Argentine wine industry at Mendoza in the 1980s. His work at Etchart was one of his first consulting jobs outside France. He and Arnaldo went on to create the Yacochuya brand in Cafayate (93 points, Wine Advocate, 2010), after the Etchart family sold its La Florida winery in 1996.

(Despite the sale, the Etchart brand remains a major presence in Cafayate. The flagship, Arnaldo B., has won 52 medals, including Gold at the Mondial de Bruxelles.)

In 2006, Matias Etchart, the latest in the winemaking dynasty, bought a small farm far outside of town, at a place called Arca Yaco, where fig and walnut trees grow alongside cabernet sauvignon and malbec vines on the banks of a small creek.

There’s a surprising amount of cab sauv in the Calchaquí Valley (by some estimates, the grape accounts for half of all the plantings there). The low rainfall, thermal amplitude, and UV exposure is said to accentuate the presence of “pyrazines” in cab sauv – chemical compounds that produce pepper notes. In Bordeaux, winemakers try to mute their pyrazines to create an “aged” flavor profile. In the Calchaquí, winemakers embrace the synergy with malbec’s black pepper and plum.

Arca Yaco’s 2018 Amar y Vivir has a nose of wet earth, black fruit and wood, followed by tobacco, licorice, and pepper on the palate.

The wine is named Amar y Vivir for Matias’ uncle, the famous Arnaldo, who liked to sing the bolero as he worked in his bodega. He died in 2017.

Especially in times like these, Amar y Vivir reminds us that life is meant to be lived.

Hasta la próxima,

The Wine Explorer

Bonner Private Wine Partnership