Saturday, October 9, 2010

A Check Mark on the Bucket List

Good thing we're on vacation, because this post is going to be far more about the photos and the day's adventures than it is about the wine. There actually is a wine to be added to The List with this entry, but I think it's best left until the end. I'll elaborate later but, suffice it to say, that I was going to title this entry - "Machu Picchu - Yes. Magdalena Reservado - No."

The number of pictures being added to this entry is double what I might have hoped; however, we're jamming two days' worth of vacation into one entry because there was only one wine to be had. Unfortunately, one of the risks of vacation is succumbing to local conditions, bugs and unexpectedly way-lays. Our first Peruvian foray, after Lima, was Cusco - and its 3400m (11,200 feet) altitude. For this boy, who's lived at sea-level all his life, the sorroche (altitude sickness) hit pretty hard after our afternoon's touring. I was hard-pressed to even try a bit of dinner, let alone sip back on some wine that night.

Luckily, chewing on mate leaves got me through the afternoon long enough to take in some of the sights of Cusco. Boo was particularly taken by the Marcos Zapata master painting of the Last Supper that was hanging in the Cathedral of Santo Domingo. Painted with a distinctly Peruvian slant, it features a dinner of guinea pig (a local delicacy) and chicha (corn beer).

Our tour also took in a number of the Incan ruins that remain - often integrated in with more recent buildings from the Spanish colonial period. The construction of the stone walls was so superb that the Spaniards simply built their churches and colonial buildings on the original foundations and incorporated some of the existing walls into the new building.

Above the city, the ruins hadn't been co-opted by the Spaniards and the glory and incredible effort of the architecture was more evident and apparent. Just the size of some of the stones that formed part of the construction was enough to leave you awe-struck.

The largest of the ruins outside the city is called Sacsayhauman (but everyone jokingly calls it "Sexy Woman") and the location provided a spectacular view of the valley and the modern city. I can only imagine the purpose and views offered in centuries past.

That afternoon proved to be our only real taste of Cusco though. Since I wasn't up to any meandering that evening, we didn't get much of a chance to just wander the streets and see what life in the city was like. plus, we needed to be off bright and early the next morning. There were train tickets to Machu Picchu that had our names on them and sorroche or not, I was making that train.

Everyone has their list of places they want to visit before they die and Machu Picchu has always been near the top of mine. It didn't disappoint! The fact that the elevation is, surprisingly to me, about a 1000 metres lower than it is Cusco made for a quick recovery from the altitude sickness.

If the ruins in Cusco were impressive, there may not be an adjective worthy of Machu Picchu. I simply marvel - and wonder - at the location and grandeur of the complex. What on earth led the Inca to create a settlement in such an isolated and difficult to reach mountain ridge? Theories abound, but I suppose we'll never really know.

Having been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983 and voted one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in a 2007 Internet poll, I can now add a check mark beside Machu Picchu on my "bucket list." Following a guided tour and a bit of a further walkabout, it was time to grab a bus back down the somewhat harrowing, switchback road to the village of Aguas Calientes.

My altitude sickness may have dissipated, but now Boo seemed to have picked up some sort of bug. We don't know if it was the water or something he ate, but, by the time we'd finished a quick tour of the town, he was clearly feeling worse for wear. Accordingly, we decided to just stay and eat a light picnic-style dinner in the B&B hotel. We had picked up some wine in the village market. Seeing the limited scope of the community market - lots of potatoes and vegetables but little else, we weren't so sure we were even going to find a bottle of wine for sale. We grabbed a couple of bottles at the first store that was selling anything since we thought it might be our only chance. Naturally, we ran into all sorts of shops after that - some that even appeared to have a somewhat extensive selection. What was done was done though.

611. Santiago Queirolo - Vino de la Magdalena Reservado Malbec/Tannat (Peru)

At the time we bought this bottle, I didn't realize that it was made by the same winery that made the Intipalka wine that we enjoyed in Lima. The labeling is completely different - as was the taste. Whereas the Sauv Blanc from the other night was nice varietal wine, this Malbec/Tannat was anything but representative of those varietals. If there was ever any tannin present from the Tannat, the winery had found a way to complete mask it.

This was so decidedly off-dry that it was more like Inca Kola than wine. I took a look at the winery's website and it states that the Intipalka is part of the winery's new generation of wines while this Magdalena Reservado is more traditional in style. The sweeter styling is apparently preferable to the palates of most Peruvian consumers.

It's not too often that Boo and I don't feel like finishing off a bottle but he had no interest in the wine after half a glass. I'm afraid that I wasn't a whole lot more enamoured with it - although I managed a second glass, if only because I needed it to toast a big day in my life.

Hopefully, our second day at Machu Picchu will be more adequately satiated by a more attractive wine.

No comments:

Post a Comment