My schedule in Mendoza resulted in more than a few missed meals, so the refueling on ojo de bife in Buenos Aires was critical, as it was soon time to gear up again. I was heading down to Patagonia, a region that in recent years has produced some tantalizing wines.
My final visit in Mendoza was with Susana Balbo and Pedro Marchevsky, the husband-and-wife team behind Dominio del Plata. The winery produces the Susana Balbo and BenMarco brands, the former in Balbo’s preferred supple, velvety style and the latter in Marchevsky’s preferred structured and more muscular vein.
Since I began covering the wines of Argentina in 2000 , Trapiche hasn’t exactly been among my favorite wineries. As the winery cranked out large volumes, I often found quality to be lackluster. That now seems to be changing, thanks to the efforts of head winemaker, Daniel Pi.
I’ve written about Alberto Antonini before—he’s one of the quiet consultants, who goes about his work with numerous wineries, all without any pomp and circumstance. He’s a partner in Altos Las Hormigas , one of Mendoza’s outstanding producers, and also works with a number of clients in the region.
At Alta Vista , the influence is distinctly French, from owner Patrick d’Aulan (who also owns Château Sansonnet in Bordeaux) down through his whole team. Director Philippe Rolet has just put the finishing touches on a $5 million renovation and expansion of the winery facility—the building dates to 1890 and the cement vats to the 1940s.
In Argentina, Bodega Catena Zapata is the undisputed heavyweight champ. The winery, led by Nicolás Catena, is the equivalent of the Rhône’s E. Guigal : a multi-generation, family-owned winery that is clearly the industry leader, yet never rests on its laurels.
Chile’s wine industry dates back over a century, but for all intents and purposes, its modern history dates back to just the early 1990s, as wineries emerged from a generation of political and economic strife.
The move to cooler climates and better vine materials has been the major force for the upsurge in quality among Chilean wines in recent years, its white wines in particular. With that in mind, I worked up the coastline today, starting in the new area called Leyda.
Viña Montes and Casa Lapostolle are neighbors in the prime Apalta sub-valley, located in the larger Colchagua Valley. The two wineries are among the leaders of Chile’s wine industry and they’re friendly rivals.
Well, it took me two days to get to Chile's Limarí Valley. Yes, it’s a remote spot, but a day waylaid after a missed connection in Miami resulted in my having to miss out on my first two scheduled appointments.
As much as I love the charm of March’s raw, 40-degree weather in New York City, it’s time to hit the road again. I’m off to South America where I’ll be covering a lot of ground as I visit a number of wineries in both Chile and Argentina.
This weekend I bought some wine. That of course is nothing new. But it was the total purchase price that opened even my eyes. Not a penny more than $243 for two cases of wine. Not two bottles. Not a six-pack.
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