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Richard Siddle does Argentina

Published:  12 November, 2010

Harpers Wine & Spirit editor Richard Siddle is in the clutches of Wines of Argentina...


Days two, three and four in Argentina after an aborted mission on Sunday night due to the might of the Zonda wind keeping us in Santiago for an extra night.


Thanks to Lindsay Talas and buying team at Thierry's for helping take us bewildered and clueless in Santiago airport to safety of downtown hotel and for watering and feeding us. Good job they happened to be sitting the row behind on cancelled flight.


Now we are more than acclimatised to  Mendoza and in the clutches of Wines of Argentina we have more than made up for lost time.


Whirlwind of winery visits, introductions, business cards and Malbec. Blown away by friendliness and enthusiam of everyone we have met all of whom have helped turn my Argentina knowledge bank from "getting by" to "budding expert" in space of 72 hours. But with such gorgeous wines it is easy (ish) to keep going through the relentless pace.


Being introduced to the variations and vagaries of Malbec and ability of winemakers to make such different wines even when on each others' doorsteps. For someone who drinks so much Argentine wine at home i have really enjoyed discovering the differences clearly evident in cool climate regions and wines of Uco Valley, Turpagato and Salta versus Mendoza valley.


Lovely zippy fresh wines with great balanced acidity ideal in my humble opinion for UK consumers. Just wish there were more of them in the UK.


Highlight has to be trip out to Uco valley. Not just for the wine but the company of the Andes on the other side of the road spread out across the horizon with its snow capped mountains glinting in the late spring sun.


Also the experience of driving along the highways out of Mendoza like in a convoy from Mad Max with every shape and condition of battered old cars, vans and lorries that look like the rust and holes are actually keeping them together. Passing lorries laden down with garlic freshly picked from the fields and horse drawn carts and guys on ponies.


This is a country that is clearly twinned with the land and whilst the hi tech wineries and skills of the winemakers are all well and good it is the sight of the farmers, the workers in clapped out buses and the harsh,  rural way of life that is particularly grounding.


Back in the world of wine and tastings have enjoyed the potential of the whites ss well as reds. Cool climate Uco viognier is certainly going on my Christmas wish list along with the delicately matured, less perfumed almost Vinho Verde style fresh, citrus  Torrontes.


Interesting to see so many varieties cropping up here and it is often the carefully crafted blends that are the stars of the tastings.


Day long feastings on empanadas has foolishly not left much room for big steaks in the evening.


But lost my cherry, as it were, in the company of the Ever Ready Wines of Argentina Andrew Maidment at the wonderful 1884 restaurant in grounds of the Catena/Rothschild winery  in Mendoza. Complete with outside grill, oven and asado.


Not seen a pup squeak of Mendoza city itself but have a feeling I will be coming back...

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