Monday, October 18, 2010

Hello Buenos Aires

Of course, perhaps the one point that is continually stressed when you read about Argentine wineries in Mendoza is how spectacular the settings can be - with views of snowcapped Andes overwhelming the senses. During our three days, unfortunately, we just didn't get any of that. The number of times we were told that it was very unusual for things to be so cloudy for a couple of days on end just made it a tad depressing. The shot above is the closest we came to seeing a vineyard at the foot of the Andes - and I don't even know if the grapes will actually be harvested for making wine. The small (maybe demonstration) vineyard was adjacent to the airport parking lot. I thought it was important to at least try and capture a bit of the majestic views that were continually a point of conversation.

But, to break into a chorus from "Evita," "Hello, Buenos Aires..." I can't say that it was an attempt to leave the best for last - or that the "Paris of South America" can even top Mendoza or Machu Picchu - but we're ready to take in what the city has to offer. Our flight arrived rather late in the afternoon, so we didn't have a lot of time to start our explorations. We wouldn't have time to hit the weekly antique market that rocks the San Telmo area on Sundays, but we were lucky that our apartment hotel was only blocks away from the Recoleta Artisans' Market. So, that was our first destination - to take in a late Sunday afternoon with the Portenos and see how they enjoyed the day.

Boo was nearly over the moon when he found out that we were so close to the famous La Recoleta Cemetery as well. But that was going to have to wait for another day since he wouldn't have nearly enough time to wander through the resting place of many of the city's most prestigious and famous families. He was able to whet his whistle though with a view from a third storey window of the neighbouring church.

Such palpable excitement could only be matched with a glass of wine and a toast to our home for the next six days. The proprietors of our apartment hotel were ever so thoughtful and left a bottle of wine for us as a welcoming present. Little did they know that the bottle was from one of the wineries that I was most enamoured with at last Spring's Vancouver Playhouse Wine Festival. I would have loved to actually visit the winery, but it's located in Patagonia and we just weren't going to be able to fit a visit in to that part of the country this time around. What a neat coincidence.

622. 2010 Bodega Del Fin del Mundo - Postales Malbec (Patagonia - Argentina)

The winery is in direct contrast to most of the smaller enterprises that we visited in Mendoza. It has a total capacity of 8 million litres and is trailblazing in a new wine region for Argentina. The first vineyards were only planted in 1999 and that was after a 20 km channel had been built to provide for the delivery of irrigation waters from the Neuquen River. 2003 was the first commercial vintage and they have consulted with no less than wine guru, Michel Rolland, in determining how best to establish the winery. These guys are the new kids on the block and it's a case of "go big or go home."

The Postales is an entry level wine that I wasn't aware of from the Playhouse Festival but, as might be expected from an introductory wine, it's big on fruit and approachability. It was a lovely way to settle into our new digs as we waited for that ever-delayed start of the dinner hour. We actually took advantage of a near-by supermarket and picked up a few nibblies to enjoy with the wine on our little balcony.

Dinner itself was going to be low-key tonight. As another lovely gesture, the proprietors of our accommodation left a list of their favourite restaurants in the neighbourhood and we chose a pizza joint that was supposed to be as authentic as it gets to local life. That was certainly substantiated when we arrived around 9.30. Every table in the old-time diner-esque restaurant was packed with locals - many of whom we seemed to have followed from the crowd exiting the front doors of the local church.

With the evening's soccer game on the television, we opted for a beer over another bottle of wine, but that was just because we'd already done a good job on the Del Fin del Mundo. It might have been interesting to see what wines they'd actually offer up at such a location. I don't recall anything on the menu except "house red" and "house white" (or the Spanish equivalent).

All in all, we were off to a great start in B.A. We were darned excited about the days to come.


  1. Hey Bobby & Boo - been following your SA trip and find it fascinating! We were fortunate to visit Machu Picchu in 2004 - and would like to go back as we were limited to a bout 3 1/2 hours there. Keep blogging! ... kevin & art

  2. This trip you did was a real opporunity for you because it included Mendoza. When I travelled to Argentina, I spent very little because I got an apartment for rent in buenos aires for the whole of my stay and saved a lot of money mainly because I did not have to go to a restaurant every day, I would go to the supermarket and get food at the same priced locals do. So with all the money i saved, I could have gone to mendoza that I heard it beautiful and tasted all those wines. I´ll do it next year!