Last week, on my first day in Mendoza, José Manuel Ortega Gil-Fournier took me on a tour of the area and its vineyards. For a first-time visitor anywhere it takes time to get oriented with the landscape. It's the same with getting acquainted with an area's wines.
Most wine tours began as ours did, with a look at the vines and grapes. Mendoza, and in this instance Uco Valley, is a vast, fertile, rocky, sandy and arid high desert. This being summer, Mendoza's fruit and produce are at their height of freshness.
The Malbec vineyards I saw that day looked as perfect as I've seen. Fournier, who owns O. Fournier winery nearby, walked me through one of the old-vine properties. Along the way, accompanied by his young winemaker, Julia Halupczok, we sampled berries—full, dark clusters. The grapes tasted ripe. Only a few more weeks before the grapes for harvest 2011 are picked and crushed.
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