Friday, October 22, 2010

Like a Milion

After a day at the ranch (well, maybe a couple of hours anyhow), we made it back to the big city. We hadn't known when we were scheduled to get back from the estancia, so we hadn't made any plans for the evening.

As such, we thought we'd just play it by ear and figured that we could start it out with a bit of stroll in the Puerto Madero area of town. We'd been told that the new iconic bridge was particularly stunning at night. Unfortunately for us, the area is still undergoing a renovation and revitalization and there wasn't a whole lot open at night. There are tons of restaurants along the riverwalk during the day, but the place was fairly empty at night. In fact, walking away from the area and back into the vibrant downtown, Boo and I probably felt our least safe and most vulnerable. No harm was done though. It just meant we needed a drink.

And we found that drink at Milion, another of the restaurant/bars that were recommended by our apartment hosts. Milion is an old French Beaux Arts mansion from the early 20th Century that has been restored and opened as one of the reigning hot spots on the B.A. nightlife scene. We were lucky enough to get a table in the garden courtyard.

While going over the wine list, I realized that we were quickly coming to the end of our trip and we still hadn't added a bottle of the Bonarda varietal to The List yet. It made the evening's choice easier.

627. 2008 Bodegas Nieto Senetiner Bonarda (Mendoza - Argentina)

I'd been hoping to try some of Argentina's "other" red varietal during our trip but a full bottle had thus far eluded us. Only recently taken over as the most widely planted varietal in Argentina, Bonarda has traditionally been used for bulk wine production. Consequently, it isn't nearly as well known as Malbec once you leave the pampas.

It's pretty much guaranteed that the grape was introduced to Argentina from Italy by the waves of immigrants that arrived on the South American shores and moved to Mendoza. It's actual heritage remains undetermined however. There are actually three grapes that are known as Bonarda in Italy; however, none of them are likely the varietal that is still grown in Argentina. Apparently, the grape here is more likely the same as Charbeno or Corbeau as that varietal is called respectively in California and France. A definitive match remains to be completed.

In any event, Bonarda (as grown in Argentina) is becoming better known as growers and vintners look to produce a varietal wine based more on quality than quantity. I didn't find out a lot about Nieto Seteliner as a producer, however, I did read on one site that it is a pioneer in the production of Bonarda.

In general, the grape tends to a lighter and fruitier wine, but it can produce a wine of substance if the vines are thinned and the grapes are fully ripened. I think we hit a happy medium with our bottle. It matched up to Boo's beef (I don't think he ate anything but cow once we crossed the Andes) and to my pasta.

As for that beef and pasta, it wasn't the best meal we had on the trip but the setting was well worth it - and I got the distinct impression that the young, stylish Portenos that were packing the place were here more for the romance and the booze than they were for the food.
I likely could have added a nightcap after dinner, but these late-starting dinner hours was beginning to take their toll. We moseyed up a crowded staircase to check out the beautifully appointed lounge and bar on the second floor, but, despite the inviting comfort, this old fart needed to get home to bed as midnight approached - even on vacation, it seems that the witching hour take its toll on my delicate constitution.

I pulled the attached picture for this post as I thought it was a shot of the Milion mansion but I realized it wasn't the restaurant. Same look, but it was our apartment building. I'd taken the night shot when we arrived back home. Nice digs, eh?

Tomorrow was to be our last full day in town - and we haven't done any shopping yet for the gang back in Vancouver. Guess that good night's sleep was more needed than I'd originally thought.

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