Further Notes on White Rhone Varietals in Mendoza, part 2

(--wherein, two months later, we finally pick up the thread
of '...our story, thus far--')

In the twenty-five or so minutes it took us to drive from Mendoza to Sr. Festa's winery in Chacras de Coria, an unspecified & never to be explained emergency came up in his Santa Rosa vineyard, about two hours away to the East. Consequently, & contrary to expectations, we were received by Luis, the winery manager, & the accountant; both quite bemused, as they had not been informed by their patrón of our planned visit.
A quick ring on the celphone led to a somewhat surrealistic round of introductions tinnily broadcast by cellular speakerphone, & after a cursory review of the winery's facts & figures we were led on to taste wines still waiting to be bottled-- stored both in stainless steel, & in traditional concrete 'piletas'.
While all the fruit is organically grown, Luis was quite candid about the winery's dual approach to vinification: white grapes are cold-soaked & innoculated with commercial yeast strains to 'cold-ferment' in refrigerated stainless steel tanks, while red grapes are, on principle at least, taken along a less interventionist & more traditional path.
I must apologize for leaving the implied caveat in the above sentence hanging as I focus on the winery's white wines. Visiting their website (linked to above) to compare my usual spare tasting notes with whatever published data I might profit by reviewing, I found, among other omissions, no entry for the Viognier I sampled & subsequently bought! I must also beg to differ on the characteristics they emphasize for their Ugni Blanc, harping as they do on tropical fruit, & listing pineapple, banana & melon as main descriptors. The discrepancy may be due to year & bottle variation (The bottle I bought was vintage '06. I was a little let down I wasn't offered a taste of anything 'in progress'.) --or it may be all a matter of my own quirky, idiosyncratically semi-educated palate-- in any case, & be that as it may:
The stand-out wine from the visit, lingering most clearly in memory nearly two months later, was a light, herbaceous Chardonnay from the current harvest, still just finishing alcoholic fermentation. It had just enough of a mineral thread-- subtle but undeniable-- to make me regret not having bought whatever bottling of the varietal they had on hand at that point & putting it through some formal tasting paces. I wonder if it's their best product.

Now, here is the preview of coming attractions I posted at the tail end of my 'Wine Blogging Wednesday #46' participation:
On first taste, the Ugni Blanc was peculiarly reminiscent of Sauv Blanc, with grassy gooseberry character, while the Viognier was rather tight & unyielding to the senses. Will taste again this evening, in good company, & will post a link here to a separate post for tasting notes & the story of how I discovered the winery.

'Good company', indeed!-- meaning Jasmine Montgomery & her folks, who have opened Domaine Du Mont, an upscale bistro & private event facility in the Coquimbito district of Maipú. Their lovingly rehabilitated hacienda is twenty minutes or so on foot from Hans & Alina's Posada Cavieres, not a bad walk but for the hardship of no real pedestrian-friendly 'shoulder' for the better part of the route along Carril Urquiza. One must run the gauntlet by the occasional rush of hard-bearing trucks on a narrow corridor of packed alluvial scree along an olive grove fenced in barbed wire. One can only hope the work being done on the Northern end of this road, featuring lovely, secure & comfortable bike & walking lanes, reaches this far before too long. I have the best hopes for the success of this new 'Domaine' & trust we will celebrate when I find my way back to Mendoza next year.
Jasmine is trained both as a Chef de Cuisine & Sommelier, but was unfortunately struggling with a bad cold the evening of our gathering. Maybe I could blame our different evaluation of the wines tasted on her stuffy nose & diminished sensorium.
Rather predictably, the Ugni Blanc generated the most debate. The variety's 'notable acidity' (notorious might be the better term) was very much in evidence, pushing the dominant character from citrus to aspirin, with the latter's saltiness & texture at least adding some supporting density to the light midpalate.
I found telling continuities with Conalbi-Greenberg's boutique bottling reviewed for WBW #46: a faraway whiff of white flowers, & some assertive, lingering herbaceousness which struck Jasmine as unpleasantly bitter.
Although green ginger & rosemary are probably easier for most to identify, I have a new, possibly more correct & accurate descriptor for that bitter, herbaceous character: sometime after that evening, (my farewell to Maipú) during my unexpectedly lengthy 'stopover' visit in Rosario, I let some herbal lemon verbena tea steep a bit overlong, & the resulting brew had an aftertaste of astoundingly similar character-- spicy-tart but with a touch of bitter herbaceousness. I can understand how this characteristic in a wine may make it something of an acquired taste, but I personally don't find it unpleasant & believe the right food pairing will go a long way to winning fans for this type of complexity. 'Umami', anyone?
The Viognier (younger that the Ugni Blanc, an '07 vintage) was more generally enjoyed & I have tasting notes that speak of 'wet stone', 'snowmelt grass', & grapefruit. I do believe the 'Quality/Price Ratio' on this wine is exceptional, even as I find Viogniers from Argentina lacking a certain something. I will immediately start work on a post comparing notes on the five (or so) different bottlings I tried, but will post this 'as is'. As usual,
'to be continued...'


Prodigal Themes (UPDATE 1- &2: paging Kevin Johansen!)

'...I would love to live in fear/but I'm so lazy'

Marcela, Paulina's friend, introduced me to the music of Kevin Johansen in Rosario.
A couple of quotes from his oficial website should help explain why I've fallen in love with his music:
'...Kevin was born in Fairbanks, Alaska, of Northamerican father and Argentinean mother. He has lived for various reasons in San Francisco, Buenos Aires, Montevideo and New York. Therefore it is not surprising that he presents a ‘diagnosis’ of acute musical uprooting in which the main symptoms are a conscientious bilingualism and a stylistic nomadism of prolonged cosmopolitan effect. ...on October 12th of 1990, after years of ‘Porteño’ wandering between Montevideo and Buenos Aires, our friend moves to New York. There, he truly develops as a songwriter and performer, playing downtown venues such as the Knitting Factory, Mercury Lounge and the legendary CBGB’s. At CBGB’s, he is ‘discovered’ by its owner, Hilly Krystal who became his mentor and records four albums, last of which is precisely, “The Nada”. As he himself says, he does ‘cumbia tanguera’, habaneras in English, reggae porteño, little ballads a la Leonard Cohen...Or like the Argentine press describes: “he’s a New Yorker in Buenos Aires and a cosmopolitan Argentinean in New York, out of place in Montevideo as much as in Alaska”...'

I'm playing a couple of his songs in constant loops as emotional support buoys to keep me afloat through the reentry blues. No performance videos of these particular tunes, let's see if I can upload the tracks from my HD without much trouble...

Nope. Need to find a host...somewhere...fuck it: later...

(...Ok, I'm a little calmer, tho I still haven't figured a host for those tunes. LastFM don't seem to work for that...meanwhile, 'en lo que el hacha va y viene', I'll add some appropiate visuals...)

UPDATE: found a YouTube video for my second current favorite KJ tune, 'Campo Argentino', but I can't seem to get here from there...so you might link to it on your own--


(I Left My Hard) On Barbary Coast

(...older news, newsome foursome--)

here is your gifted surrogate
stolen away from steerage
kidnap victim all aglow
in borrowed gold & finery

--seasick horizon all but purged
in th arduous climb up the dizzy steps
on the stairset of sheltering class
to face the nightmare of an endless fall
down a bottomless drop--

doctor, my heart
beats on the verge of giving out
rough edges blunt & careworn

doctor, my skin
flakes itchy scales off yon underflesh...
my yearnings all pressed thin



tu servilleta también
es un árbol caído
y un barril de petróleo
cada funda plástica

esa canción de amor
seduce fuga de capitales
y el margen ganancial variable
sujeto a retenciones

desde otro silencio, apenas cómodo
somos cómplices anónimos
de incontables abusos secretos
y el peor atropello

porque no es inocente el inconsciente
nuestra ración de olvido recetado
paga un desmesurado precio
en proporción de sufrimiento

(--que no es ajeno y se nos regresa
devuelto de rebote
para descargar su agobio sin aviso
alguna noche de frío desconsuelo...)


Up in the air & On The Road Again...

Greetings from Ezeiza Int'l Airport outside (?) Buenos Aires. Had to pay a total 104.70 pesos to leave the country-- didn't realize there was an additional airport tax besides the 50 peso fine for missing my three-month tourist visa limit-- again.
Very sorry to be missing Wine Blogging Wednesday #47, 'Brought To You By The Letter 'S'', tee-hee...
I'll have to grit my teeth & go to Starbucks as soon as I'm halfway functional & semi-coherent to try a couple of catch-up posts...again...
I wish there was a mid-point between 'Twitter' & my drive to prove myself as something like a conventional journalist investigating the Political Economy of the Wine Industry...but then again, nobody's forcing me, are they? ...Or are they, now?
Over n out-- for now...we'll talk after US Customs at six in the morning in Miami tomorrow-- maybe. OK, Over'n OUT.


My Most Consistently Supportive Friend-- my Chinese Horoscope!

Don't be concerned about the briefness of your existence; just enjoy yourself, profit by all the legitimate pleasures available, and then you'll have the impression of having reached eternity. Don't let yourself be dragged into ill-prepared or too risky financial operations, otherwise you could end up in a catastrophic situation for some stars will be very adverse in this domain. On the contrary, you'll have excellent chances to succeed in your career if your work does not involve the manipulation of money.

East-West Combined Zodiac
Aries Wood Horse

Base station in downtown Mendoza for nearly six months-- Wi-Fi enabled Café Havanna, also providing a taste of home in little coconut cones called 'Havannitas'!