I expected Alex would deliver.
Hector, no way.
Alex is an expatriate, a former Wall Streeter who moved to Buenos Aires in 2002 and bought into a boutique wine shop. Terroir Casa de Vinos is well-known for its selection of rare and hard-to-find Argentine wines.
His is a modest shop that caters to those seeking cutting edge wines made by a variety of producers that aren't exported. Anyone visiting B.A. would enjoy a visit; Alex is very knowledgeable about his wines and we bought a few bottles, hoping to find something magical.
Hector is a taxi driver. He picked some friends and me up to take us to dinner my first night in Buenos Aires. His English is worse than my Spanish, but not by much. I had directions to the restaurant and Hector seemed gruff; he was unshaven and his car, well, he drove it like a go-cart. I'm sure the brake linings were threadbare. Didn't really matter, since no one seems to stop at most intersections. Whichever car gets there first has the right of way?
We talked about the steak house where we were headed (La Brigada) and then about seeing a Tango performance. Lost in translation, Hector drove us to a steak house (not La Brigada) where you could also Tango!
Not what we wanted. Hector drove us to La Brigada and on the way I asked him if he liked wine, a silly question, I know.
"Si," Hector replied. "Rutini."
He then made gesture, moving his hand along his throat to demonstrate how smooth Rutini went down.
I didn't expect to see Hector again, not with the thousands of black and yellow Pittsburgh Steelers-colored taxis everywhere. But sure enough, as we left the restaurant, there was Hector; he seemed as happy as us to be reunited. The grumpy Hector had been replaced with a cheery one.
On the way home we asked if he could drive us the next day, which he did. He showed up at our hotel a completely new man. Clean-shaven, he wore a freshly pressed short-sleeved white shirt and fairly new white Nike tennis shoes.
I complimented him on his appearance as we drove off, headed for Terroir and our meeting with Alex, he allowed that today was his birthday, numero 46. He was beaming and headed to a family dinner at his grandmother's home.
When we got to Terroir, the first thing we did was grab a bottle of Rutini for Hector for his birthday. He was in a hurry, but waited. We didn't bother to look at the vintage, or any other details about the wine. Alex said it was nice bottle and that he would enjoy it.
Yesterday, as Hector picked me up for the day's adventure, he again had a huge smile. The Rutini, well, he said he drank the whole bottle himself. It went down smooth, he said, with the same down his throat gesture with his hand.
Rutini was a new name to me, but a well-regarded producer. Its wines are on every list; Alex had a collection of special Rutini wines in his shop.
The same good wine advice from two disparate sources.
Brad Kanipe — GA — February 11, 2011 10:25am ET
Carlos Reis — Rio de Janeiro, Brazil — February 12, 2011 5:00pm ET
James Laube — Napa, CA — February 12, 2011 5:34pm ET
Carmen A Policy — Yountville, Ca USA — February 13, 2011 11:10am ET
Silverio Robledo — Granada Hills, CA, USA — February 13, 2011 9:19pm ET
Andrew Kiken — Calistoga, Ca — February 15, 2011 12:39pm ET
James Laube — Napa, CA — February 20, 2011 4:22pm ET
Sips & Tips | Wine & Healthy Living
Video Theater | Collecting & Auctions