Bolivian Flavours – A New Experience


A first for me, with a Bolivian Wine. From Bodegas Kuhlmann, in the southern Bolivian city of Tarija. The Bodega has a long history, founded in 1930, producing for the domestic market until recently.

This wine is a blend of French grapes, Marselan and Tannat. While I’m familiar with Tannat from Uruguay and Argentina, this was to be a new experience for me.

The grapes come from two distinct vineyards in the Tarija Valley, both at High Altitude, as the name of the wine, Altiplano would indicate, translating as High Plain, the El Portillo Vineyard at 2000masl and the Suncho Hayaco slightly lower at 1920masl. Franz Molina is the winemaker.

Dark juices exploded into the glass as I poured my first wine, a crimson void. The smell of dark black cherries rose from the glass, with other dark fruits, blackberries, blueberries, along with the smokiness and vanilla aromas indicating the use of oak.

In the mouth there was a surprisingly modest amount of tannins and acidity, given tannat was in the blend, and the flavours matched the nose, with the addition of redcurrants, and a spiciness, which at first I put down to the 14%+ alcohol, but as the hints of tobacco tuned to pepper on the finish, and a lengthy finish too, I felt it was the spice that was the ruler here not the alcohol itself. The texture was smooth, almost velvety, and certainly a full-bodied wine.

However, there was something overly youthful about the wine, and I feel that given the benefit of time this wine will develop further. Thankfully I was able to pick up a trio of bottles, so I will leave the other two, and see what happens over the next year of so.

All in all, a new experience, and certainly something to look out for. Bolivian wine is new to our shores in any quantity, and it remains to be seen if the production for export makes it to Europe and becomes a worthy addition to the South American Wines we have grown to love from Argentina & Chile, and in recent years Uruguay. If this is an example of the style, that will travel, and age, then lets hope there is more to follow.