Did you miss me? I knew one day life would go by so fast that I missed a deadline, so my apologies my post was absent last month.
other reason we went to Argentina was to taste wine, which also started pretty
much as soon as we arrived, (before, for some of us) and the taste was good.
This vast country has many things, but rural roads are not one of them as our
bus journeyed us for hours down dirt tracks to find each venue, with yet more
cows. We did drop into an agricultural contractor who had complicated machines
the size of tower-blocks that munched up square miles of maize per day, for a
glimpse of how the arable farms worked, but it was mainly beef cattle we were
here to see. In fact that is the one thing I will take away from the country,
just how vast it really is – eg, you could fit Europe into Argentina and still
some the highlight, a flight to Mendoza in the west and literally a change of
scenery from the huge vast pampas plains to the backdrop of the Andes
mountains. Some of the peaks still had snow on top, despite this being summer
although, as the climate had no winter, it was technically summer all year
round. The issue with all-round sunshine is that it tends to leave no rain, and
so this area was a desert, or at least it had been until 25 years ago. We were
in the Uco valley where some smart guys with brains and vision had recently realized
that when the snow melted on the mountains, they could possibly harness the
water and use it to grow stuff. And the stuff they grew were grapes. Millions
of them. I never quite found out the size of the whole valley but the vineyard
we stayed on, called Salentein, grew 2,500 acres of them to start with,
producing 20 million bottles of wine per year. Yes, twenty million. And they
were one of many producers. Now in France, where I partially live, our local biggest
vineyards might knock out 100-200,000 bottles in a good year. By the way, in
France, you are not allowed to irrigate vines, it’s the law. Most people would consider when you mass-produce
anything on that scale, the quality would have to suffer, right? Not so, here.
We tasted premium wines after premium wines, each magnificent. Anyone with a
half interest in the vino will tell you Argentina is famous for its Malbec
grape. Correct. That is the product they export world-wide and it is damn fine.
But what they also have is a huge array of other grape varieties, and a massive
amount of knowledge as to what to plant, where. And in this and their recent
adaptation of new technologies, for example how to fend off hailstorms at 4000
feet above sea-level, and this new-world really does have a penchant for top
quality. And this also showed in the showpiece wineries we stopped at, all
opulently and outrageously designed but a woman who had clearly been on the
acid pills. Admittedly, the best wine doesn’t leave the country, not without a
hefty price tag anyway, but boy are their whites out of this world. And this,
from an author who chooses to live in France and swears by his white burgundy.
We are back
in Scotland now, drying out inside, although not outside, and readjusting to a
25 degree drop in temperature. This has left me with the flu, for the second
time this winter – hence my not penning this column last month – and I am
pretty fed up with it. The problem is quite simply, I believe, that for the
last 3 winters we have been so jabbed up with vaccine, letting our immunity
guard drop below the knee, until the cowardly little viruses have sneaked their
way back in. Give me the needle, any time. Hasta la vista, mis amigos.