On the Gaucho Trail
s you wake up rom an aternoonnap, the only things you want passingyour lips are another helping oreshly grilled medium-rare to rare bee andmore velvety, local wine. Welcome to yourSouth American wine and meat journey.On arrival, my advice or Buenos Airesis simple. Forget your normal sleep-rise-eatcycles. Round one o wine tasting can becompleted by your normal dinnertime. Aterwhich, you should go to your hotel, take a nap,and wake up in time or round two o winetasting and dinner (which can occur anytimebetween 10pm and 3am). The next morningyou must wake up and eat meat–period.Ater two great nights in Buenos Aires,the next several were spent in the actualbirthplace o the purple nectar—the genuinedirt and vineyards o Argentine wine country.We ew into Mendoza City and our car wasalmost enguled by vines. About 40 minuteslater, we arrived at Cavas Wine Lodge (www.cavaswinelodge.com), a dream resort with14 striking villas seamlessly woven into theabric o a working vineyard. The marriageo elegant accommodations and ripeninggrapes was uniquely calming and rich. Thesta is second to none, with knowledgeablesommeliers and charming concierges.
Keith Hoffmantakes us on a two-part tour of South America’s wine (and dine) country. This month, we explore the best of Argentina.
The ood and wine selections werespectacular as well as aordable—a rarity intop-drawer resorts. Tip: Don’t miss the CavasEggs or breakast. And dinners in the wine cellar,or on your private roo top overlooking the vines,are simply wonderul. Baby goat, Patagonialamb, fsh wrapped in parchment, salmon andtrout in awless saron cream sauces andbeets carpeted in melted cheese are all top notch.All the ood seems to pair heavenly witha Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Torrontes—a beautiul remedy rom Chardonnay atigue—or red blend rom one o the dozens o wineriesthat surround the lodge. We went to twocomplimentary wine-tasting events in theCavas cellar, which oered invaluableknowledge nuggets.
Wines of ArgentinA
Argentina is the fth largest global producero wine; France, Italy, Spain and USA still lead.Even more impressively, though, Argentinais the world’s third largest consumer.In 1554, the frst European vines wereplanted in Argentina. European inuencesin Argentina are everywhere, rom the wines,the vineyard practices, the blends and thepeople. In act, 98 percent o Argentinescan trace their heritage back to Europe.Today, however, she is but a resh entryonto the world stage o wine. So new, in act,that the frst oreign investments and a much-needed modernisation o viticulture techniqueshave been in place only since the early 1990s.Argentina now has over 700 wineries, andcontinues to mature as a wine powerhouse.Her wines are already dazzling the global stage,and things look set to only get better with time.Malbec vines were brought rom Francein the 1850s, beore the Phylloxera epidemic(an aphid that kills vines by eating their roots)that almost wiped European vineyards entirelyo the map. In Bordeaux, Malbec is known asCôt or Pressac, while in the Alsace and Cahorsregions o France it goes by the name Auxerrois.Malbec remains one o the six grape varietiesapproved or making red blends in Bordeaux,but it usually comprises only a small percentageo the wine. The varietal is quite vulnerable tomildew and other wet rots. Accordingly, it ison the steady decline in Europe, and is otendismissed as too difcult to bother growing.Malbec, however, in combination with theradiant sun o Argentina, the almost totallydry growing season (oering an environmentree o wet skins), and the practiced handso the wine producers in Mendoza, can becoaxed into producing beautiully structured