18 October 2006

Down in the valley

I was lucky enough to get down to the Valle de Uco last weekend.  It was a long weekend, although as is normally the case here nobody was quite clear on what the holiday was meant to celebrate.  So we decided to celebrate Uco wines!

Valle de Uco is about an hour and a half south of Mendoza city.  It's a broad, flat river valley with a gentle uphill slope towards the Andes (well, actually a baby mountain range flanking the 'real' Andes, but they were tall and jagged enough to be covered in a mighty impressive blanket of snow).  Anyway this valley, with its higher altitudes (1100m +), alluvial soils, and various microclimates, makes outstanding grape growing territory and as a consequence it's where most of the big new plantings are happening.  A lot of the development is happening at the southern end of the valley, near a little town called La Consulta.  That's where O.Fournier and others are currently working their magic.  We didn't get down that far, heading instead east of Tunuyan, close to the mountain pass where General Jose San Martin mustered and led his army across the Andes to fight the Spanish army in Chile.  Enjoying the sun, watching the trout in the bubbling brooks, and gazing upwards at the jagged, icy mountain peaks you have to admire his determination.  I probably would have stayed right where I was.  Of course, at the time the General didn't have bodegas like Salentein, J&F Lurton, Michel Rolland's Clos de los Seite and the little boutique gem of La Azul just down the road.  Just as well or Chile may never have slipped the imperial yoke.  The less historic achievement of my weekend was a little sunburn, a little more asado beef, and a lot of wine tasting.  Reviews to be posted over at Argentina Wine Guide soon!