More on Argentina
In a rare gap in the itinerary (an hour free before dinner), I now have a chance to blog a little more on my first impressions of Argentina. These will be just a series of bullet points, I'm afraid - I am too tired to attempt anything grander.
1. The meat here really is great, and there's a lot of it. We have eaten very well. I have probably over-eaten. You just have to.
2. Mendoza is not how I expected it to be. Prior to this visit, I'd read a lot about the effects of altitude, and how being in the foothills of the Andes was so important to moderate temperature effects. As a result, I expected the vineyards to be on slopes. But they aren't. There's such a slow gradation in altitude that the vineyards look like they are on huge, flat plateaus. Some of them are really big.
3. The quality of the wines we have experienced has been very high. We have only visited a few producers, but I now have a list of perhaps a dozen wines that I have felt to be truly world class. That's really encouraging.
4. Whites lag behind reds. I don't mind Torrontes, but it's not my favourite variety. The Terrazas Reserva Chardonnay is pretty good, and the Catena Alta Chardonnay is lovely; we also had a very impressive Dona Paula Sauvignon Blanc today. But it's the Malbecs, the red blends, and the Cabernets that excel here.
5. Of all the really good wines we have tried so far, our afternoon visit to Achaval Ferrer confirmed to me what I suspected from previous tastings: these are stunningly elegant expressions of Malbec. Mind you, the Catena Adrianna is up there (it's fantastic) and the top Terrazas wine isn't far off.
I think my sore throat is improving - last night I thought I was going to die, although dinner at a really smart tapas place in Mendoza (The Winery) revived me a bit. Fortunately this bug that is attacking my throat has left my nose alone: it would be horrible to travel all this way and then not be able to taste the wine.