The Goodbye Rehearsal, or, long-overdue update & buildup to Wine Blogging Wednesday # 46

For my own 'Opening Farewell', where Jackson Browne writes that poignant line,
'There's a train/every day/going either way...'
there is rather the image of a roller-coaster ride running its dizzy circles a little too long in a tight, narrow perimeter...

As I believe I've mentioned, but for the limping 'vanity' service that stops in Rosario on its way from Buenos Aires to Tucumán, there is no passenger rail in Argentina. Riding into Maipú with Hans of Posada Cavieres one morning, we were detained by a freight train as it crawled along the barely functional tracks & made its way over the unmarked road crossing. I was dumbfounded. It seems the mining industry has managed, in some areas of otherwise difficult access, to continue using the diminished, deteriorated infrastructure & provide the rare sighting.
My running routes these six months have more often than not taken me along these abandoned tracks. Everybody blames former president Carlos Menem (--a neo-liberal free marketer in the Thatcher & Reagan mold) for the demise of the system, everybody hopes & wishes for some manner of service to be reestablished. There are rumours of a longstanding project to redevelop a minimal loop for a Mendoza-based tourist 'Wine Train'...then there is the more complex political boondoggle holding up the rehabilitation of the Transandino line over the Cordillera to Chile...

In speaking to Mendocinos from all walks of life, I find a shared, general sense of frustration at the woeful inadequacy of all types of infrastructure-- for transport, for communication-- & much finger-pointing at bureaucratic centralism (in corrupt complicity with corporate malfeasance) on the part of the government in Buenos Aires for the sense of inescapable neglect the whole region of Cuyo passively endures. The simmering resentment this breeds cuts across political lines & feeds longstanding feelings of impotence & futility.

Just yesterday (--er, last Friday) there was a power outage at Solares de Maipú, where I had been been living over budget chiefly to take advantage of their wi-fi loop. Power was restored soon enough, but the wireless Internet was not...possibly in need of resetting by tech administrators?
It's a week later, I'm back at Posada Cavieres as I wind my affairs down & there was still no wi-fi at Solares de Maipú when I spoke with Diego, the manager, this morning. If any further evidence is called for, it's a matter of recorded protest that the provincial road from San Rafael, capital of the southernmost wine-producing district in the region, & the agro-industrial vineyards extending thousands of hectares to the East, is a two-lane dirt track.

I had forgotten how chilly this quaint, historical casita can get when one sits at the keyboard for more than twenty minutes. My main source of heat is a pint-sized wood burning stove that looks as if a diet had trimmed away its pot belly. I don't have the best fire-building & maintenance skills, either.
But enough digression. Alberto Cecchin found my revised proposal agreeable, & our agreement runs like this:
I'm buying about 450 liters, or 600 bottles, of his 2006 Bonarda, along with half as much Merlot from the same year. As a nod to the tasting notes I never posted from the visit chronicled here, I'll just say the tank samples of this latter wine opened up to discreet red fruit & classic velvety mouthfeel into the second day of tasting. No oak program on any of this: naked, pure, organic grape juice, fermented on autochtonous yeasts & with a bare minimum of sulfites for stabilization.
I've also contracted to put the same quantities of 2008 juice into oak for maturing: the Bonarda gets divided between one two-year-old American barrel & a neutral, three-year-old French one. The Merlot should go into French oak, I'm not sure whether to chance the strength of the 2nd year barrel. I would be hoping, in the best of cases, to blend with as much wine from the concrete tanks when, um Gotteswillen, I come back towards the end of next February, so that the final bottlings are only 50% oak-aged...
The feather in my cap in regard to this part of my long-term project would be the possibility of bottling a vineyard-block designate selection of Dr. Pedro Rosell's Malbec. One of the five samples mentioned here (I'm almost certain it was the selection from the 900 meter ridge at the top of 'El Reposo' vineyard, but couldn't swear to it right now.) was maybe 'varietally untypical', & reminiscent in some ways of Loire Cabernet Franc in character: clear violet color with lavender rim, violet in the nose & violet pastille with subtle, discreet red fruit to support the floral character in the palate. Maybe a little short, but a wine of sensuous delicacy, nonetheless. I haven't managed to meet up with señor Pedro again, I truly hope we manage to reconnect before I leave town by the end of next week.
(I was hoping to write down some quick tasting notes on the three Viogniers I've tried here, but the alluvial-scree, dirt-road obstacle course that comprises my running route beckons. I'll publish this as is & try to include those notes as a prologue to a surprising, if unarguably overpriced, boutique bottling of Ugni Blanc which will form the core of my returning participation in Wine Blogging Wednesday...to be continued...)