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Adios Chile

Friday, Feb. 10

We went to DeMartino winery, which was started in 1934. It experiments with a variety of new grape varieties and methods.
It is 100% organic.
They water 2-3 times a week for 8 hours and have 350 hectares and buy grapes as well.
They make 1.7 million bottles a year.
They use French oak – toasted barrels – as well as big Vats. The vats are French and German oak and are used up to 100 years.
They also have Clay pots like the ones used in ancient times.
We had a tasting of a Chardonnay, a blend and a cinsaulti as well as others with lunch.

 

Today was the farewell! What a great group. I have a place to stay in Stockholm as well as Savannah!!
I fly home tomorrow night.
It has been fun to blog! Thank you for reading . I hope you have enjoy my journey too!!!
Thursday, Feb. 9
It has been cloudy early the last few mornings and then by 10 a.m. the sun comes out. It must need its morning coffee like me.
But today it is remaining partly cloudy. It must be in sympathy to snow at home.

Yet it is a colorful sky tonight.

I have found wine heaven – it is called Vina Vik! It is owned by a Norwegian man who made his fortune in software – Alexander Vik. The idea is for an expensive Bordeaux blend. There are 12 micro climates and 5 grape varieties– Cabernet Sauvignon, carmeniere, merlot, Syrah and Cabernet Franc. The distributor is in Connecticut so party!! I shipped 3 bottles home!!
It is totally automated with the newest equipment- sorting table, automated pruning etc but they pick at night by hand with headlights usually in April and May.
Each year they use 3,500 new French oak barrels.

The winery, left, the hotel-restaurant right. Rooms are about $2,000 a night!
They have more vines per hectare than usual in Chile. The vines are only 10 years old.
We tasted 5 wines before a delicious lunch – fish with salad etc with more wine!
Tomorrow we head to Santiago. It is nearing the end — very sad.

Wednesday, Feb. 8
We started the day at Las Ninas, 3 daughters of the owners. Our guide was humorous and entertaining.
80% of Las Ninas is red grapes.
Cabernet Sauvignon is the largest grape grown..
We tasted Sauvignon Blanc and
Carmeniere. Then the blends – which are the best tide me. Third was a blend of Syrah and mouvedre for $20; 4th was a blend of 4 wines
2014 Syrah, Mourvèdre, merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon $30; our guide had us guessing the wines; 5th a 2015 blend of
Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, merlot and Mourvèdre.
After that breakfast tasting we went to Viu Manent. Ripleys believe it or not, we tasted 8 more wines before a delicious lunch of salad, avocado, some corn thing, chicken, meat etc etc I’ll save you from the calories and tell you the best wine for me was the 8th, a Pure Malbec 2012 that was in French oak for 18 months and made with old vInes. Old vines have deeper roots, more flavor but produce less fruit. Of ruse the wine sold for $120.

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Then we went to the pool. I have a lovely group. We spent the evening together eating pizza and drinking.

Tuesday, Feb. 7

Another fabulous morning!
We went to Montgras. Christian took us into the fields to taste the grapes — Carmeniere, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot noir, Tempranillo, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay. Then we drank from a stainless style tank — Sauvignon Blanc– Johan said he had pics of me!! Johan and Ingrid are a delightful Swedish couple. The  picture is of Eric.
Then we had a great blending session. Party at my house to taste — 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot and 15%Carmeniere. Great fun. We corked, burnt the foil and pasted on labels.


I think I learned the more pics I put on the blog, the more unstable it becomes so you’ll have to excuse me.Now I am bring this bottle below for our pool party! It is 78 degrees and sunny. I answered one right question at Las ninas but actually Joe gave me his winning bottle so I am sharing.

Montgras lost 300,000 liters of wine in the 2010 earthquake.

Next we went to Vina Maquis, which has 130 hectares — Mainly of Cabernet Franc and Carmeniere.
It Uses geothermal heating and cooking for tanks etc. and is Sustainable!
Thus leaving No Carbon footprint.
It is Starting to Harvest today– very early — for its rose.
We drank a Malbec and cab franc rose with 12% alcohol.
Our 2nd wine was a Carmeniere 2013. Carmeniere has a strong bell Pepper taste.
13.5% alcohol

Our 3rd wine was a cab Franc 2013 Gran reserve at
13.5% alcohol.

The 4th was their lien 2010
Lien means silver in the Mapuche language.
It was a Blend of
Petit Verdot, cab franc, Carmeniere and Syrah.
The fifth was was their Franco 2010 — my favorite. It was
100 % percent cab franc from old vines and 24 months in old oak!
The 6th was a 2010 Carmeniere viola.
Yes we ate delicious sandwiches too and we sat out in an orchard.
Our table, led by Michael, started singing! Very funny! I have a video but will spare you.

The group

Monday, Feb. 6
I met my wine hero today — Maria Luz Marin of Casa Marin in Lo Abarca. She has 40 to 50 hectares.
She went to school to be a winemaker and had a difficult time finding a job because of discrimination against women. She’s a Virgo – Sept. 14- and had a dream!


Think macho culture.

She picked a vineyard area that was new and could not find investors. Even so, she founded her winery in 2000 and it is the only female owned winery in Chile. Her first vintage, the 2003 Sauvignon Blanc, was rated 93 by Robert Parker.
Ah, she was in business.
It is considered a “Radical vineyard”.
I usually don’t like Savignon Blanc, but this was superb!!! I bought a bottle for about $28. Let us hope it survives in my luggage.

The Sauvignon Blanc is considered one of the best in Chile.

Her son Felipe is a passionate winemaker!

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He is so expressive and upbeat and opinionated.

Marin makes 100,000 to 150,000 bottles a year.
Felipe tastes the grapes to decide when to pick– no brix test or lab. They have 16 hectares of Sauvignon Blanc and make 4 different Sauvignon Blancs.– Their flagship wine!

Europe is their main market.

Maria’s sister Patricia has some wonderful art work, above.

Also, the menu for our lunch. The art is not cooperating, sorry.

Sunday, Feb. 5

I am in Vina del Mar, which is a beachside resort.  Next door is Valpariso, which we toured. It is colorful but poorer. It is a port city, but the
Panama Canal took a lot of its business.
Chile’s economy is more stable than Argentina’s based on my unscientific view. Growth is 2.5 % in Chile but not as strong as it has been in the past. The unemployment rate in Chile is 6% but Valparaiso’s is 11%. Universities and renting rooms to students are the largest industry. The navy is second and then tourism.
Valparaiso has many colorful houses on hills.

We took two funiculars but 13 work. They ease the climb on the hills. The first we rode opened in 1893.

People moved to Vina Del Mar, which is the newer area and more like a modern beach resort on the Pacific.

Our  winery visit today was to Indomita. First a sparkling and then a Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir and Late Harvest blend. We sat on the porch and ate salad, delicious sea bass etc. yum!! Dessert below. I am off to drinks!!

Saturday, Feb. 4

It had rained when we left Mendoza. Then we went over the Andes!! There was rain, snowflakes and hail and snowcaps on the mountains. That’s very unusual for summer.
It was also very windy and I was freezing but we saw Aconcaqua, the highest point in the Americas, and an Incan bridge and hot springs. It is a UNESCO heritage site.

By the way, some people felt an earthquake tremor the other night. I didn’t.

Now we are in Vina Del Mar, Chile. A group of us went to dinner as the Pacific Ocean splashed just outside our restaurant!

Friday, Feb. 3

We started the day at Alpamanta Winery!!

It is a biodynamic winery – what do I mean? it is a philosophy beyond organic. It is based on 9 preparations. There is an official agency for certification called Demeter. Some 2% of Argentina is organic and biodynamic is even smaller. Basically think no pesticides or added sulfur. Then add a wish for gathering the energy from the sun.

The  owner of Alpamanta is Austrian. There are 30  acres with animals. I’ll spare you details on the preparations but say the Chardonnay was fabulous. The Japanese bought the entire line!

I didn’t like the Cabernet  Sauvignon as much. The Cabernet Franc, a grape rarely by itself but used in a Bordeaux blend, was great. If I hadn’t left my wallet in the room …

Our winery guide was wonderful. She

is from Argentina but her husband is French. Amazingly she said her wine is better the second day.

We had a delicious lunch  with a Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and a Reserve Malbec!!

Then we were off to Septima — you heard of Freixonet sparkling from Spain. It is the same company!! It was started in 1999 in Argentina.  We had a sparkling Pinot Noir called Maria , a Chardonnay,

a Pinot Noir from Uco Valley, a Malbec  2015 and I don’t recall all.

Tomorrow we say goodbye to beautiful Argentina and go over the Andes in a bus to Chile!!! Vina Del Mar is a resort town on the Pacific. The wifi will not exist in the Andes but I am hoping wifi will be better at the next hotel.

I am blessed with a great travel group. We are 25 plus Britt and her husband! I am thinking of South Africa in March 2018 with them. Anyone want to go???

Thursday, Feb. 2

Today we went to the Salentein winery in Uco Valley.
It is owned by a man from the Netherlands who made his fortune selling expensive cars, heavy machinery  and other firms. It is a new and modern winery. The architects, a couple, have won many awards. Everything is fresh and clean. The wine follows gravity, meaning the grapes come from the top to fermentation tanks a floor lower and then into barrels on a floor lower. It is beautiful.


The Chardonnay was perfect– light in color, nice flavor but no oak. It sells for about $30 a bottle.
Next was 100% Malbec. It was not my favorite.
The third was a blend – 70% Malbec and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon. It was terrific. The

label is
It spent 18 months in barrel and only 5,916 bottles were made. It cost a little over $100 a bottle.
I am liking the blends a lot. They seem fuller and better balanced.
The last was a sparkling wine of 60% Chardonnay and 40% Pinot Noir.

Then we were off to a tiny vineyard —  Finca Suarez. Juanfa, the young winemaker of the family vineyard, was our host.img_0377

The soil has no topsoil and is very rocky. It reminded me of Chateauneuf-du-Pape with the limestone.
It is warm in the daytime but cools down at night. There is snow in winter.
Many of the vineyards have hail nets because the two destroyers of the growing grapes are hail and frost. Uco Valley doesn’t have bugs so there is less spraying and more natural growing– organic.

We started with a sparkling that I liked, then onto a nice Chardonnay and  Malbec. My favorite was the Gran Malbec.

Lunch was wonderful– charcuterie platter, salad of beets, guacamole, lettuce etc in a jar, shiskabob and of course steak. Dessert was ice cream and fruit.

Wednesday, Feb. 1

Welcome to February. I heard there was snow at home, but warming trends. We’ll see what the groundhog does tomorrow.

Today we visited two more wineries, including a five-course lunch!  We tasted 14 wines in all, I think. Forget everything you know or heard about Malbec.

We had a 40-year-old Malbec that was smooth, full bodied, delicious, wonderful !!!

It is the 1997  Weinert Malbec on the left. The Weinert rose on the right is a blend — mainly Malbec and Cab but also Gamay!! Deep pink.

I am jumping ahead. This morning there was a woman in the elevator and I asked where she was from in the States. Guess. Greenwich!! She had been to Santiago, Chile, and said the smog, pollution, whatever burned her eyes. I wonder about the fires. We shall see in a few days.

Our first winery today was Vina el Cerno in Maipu. It is family owned and tiny. It was started in 1997. The father is the winemaker. Our guide Veronica

was one of the daughters. Mother and sister arrived too. It is an organic winery, meaning no pesticides or chemicals. It has a different sensation in the mouth.

There were horses and dogs and I heard a rooster. We started with a tour and then had a tasting of six wines.  The first three were Malbec — a newer one with no oak, called Wayna, 2014; another in oak barrels for six months called 2013 Utopia; and a third in oak barrels for 18 months, 2010 Cerno. I liked the last one best because it had intense flavors but was not overpowering.

The next three were Merlot, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. Who knew Mendoza has Syrah or Merlot. They didn’t taste like anything I had ever had. Obviously because the soil and climate here are different.

There are blends of Malbec and Cab like the Alamos I have at home but Merlot and Syrah!

Then we went to the Weinert vineyard. Hubert was our lovely guide

img_0361and winemaker.  I discussed corks with him. They use synthetic cork for the wines that will not age and Spanish corks for the age worthy wines. He likes the Spanish cork better than the Portuguese cork because it lets less air into the bottle.

Anyway, we tasted a variety of Malbecs, the rose above and the 40-year -old Malbec. Then we had our delicious lunch — an eggplant pureed appertizer on bread,  a small sausage, tomato soup — oh la la — steak with potatoes, zucchini and tomatoes and a peach crumble and then coffee. Of course the wine flowed with each course. We were sitting outside in the garden and it was a beautiful day — around 80 degrees!

I forgot to say Weinert buys all its grapes so Hubert  is very particular about his suppliers. He has very high-end wines because of the aging Weinert does. Last year was so bad they didn’t make any wine. So far this year looks good.

They also have the biggest and oldest barrels I have ever seen — as much as 100-year-old barrels and gigantic! A different flavor pattern with very subtle oak.

That’s Britt standing in front of the 100-year-old barrel.

Hubert doesn’t believe in decanting. He said you lose all the flavors!! Very different opinion!

Tuesday, Jan.31

Last night we went to a tango show. The dancers were great. But I was up at 4:10 a.m. (Yes me) for our flight to Mendoza. We were home from the tango show after midnight!
It is a dream come true to be headed to Mendoza. I have always wanted to go to Mendoza and taste the Malbecs. It is on my list so retirement means I can do it!!

Let me tell you a little about Britt. She is the woman behind the wine tour. It is her company. I truly had no clue it was a woman-run tour, but she is wonderful. Britt is the one who chooses the wines, pays the restaurant bills, etc. Her husband, Per, is along and very nice but in the background.

Today is the start of our vineyard visits. We start with Susana Bilbo. I first had her Crios in Panama, I think. I believe her ex-husband was also a winemaker. I think I read that somewhere.
So far the wines we have had in Buenos Aires don’t seem to be the top shelf but I have a feeling that from now on we start the cream of Argentina and Chile.

Our true wine tasting began at Dominio del Plata Winery, alias Susana Balbo. We tasted 7 wines and had a fabulous asado, which is an Argentine barbecue. First cheese and prosciutto and then all kinds of meats and salad and flan.

The wines were

Just to show a few! There was even a Late Harvest Malbec that tasted like a dessert wine.

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They were all very, very nice. Fabulous.

Our second winery of the day was Mendel. We had a Semillion, Chenin Blanc, 2 Malbecs and a blend. By then I was exhausted. It was about a dozen wines today!!!

Monday, Jan. 30

Inflation was 40% here last year.  That is not a typo. It was the first year of the Macri administration though. It seems the population is split about him so far. Gustavo had said he appointed his pals to posts, but who knows.

There is free college and health care for all, even new immigrants. That’s why people come from Peru, Paraguay, Bolivia etc.

Last night after dinner, I had a glass of wine with Donna and Michael. She was a special ed teacher and he ran country clubs. They are from Savannah and really nice.

This morning it seems everyone knew I had hit the bar !  Not a surprise to anyone who knows me, but that was after mucho wine at dinner.

Everyone is really nice and friendly. People are from the US, Sweden and Finland.

This morning we toured — Eva Peron’s tomb,

the flower I saw the other day and then La Boca. It is the immigrant area and very poor the homes are colorful.

img_0320 We were told not to walk around there  at night — not that we would.

Lunch was at Sorrentino in Puerto Madero. Delicious Italian version of Spanakopita, chicken and a chocolate hot fudge with ice cream sort of for dessert. I am getting fat! The wines — Alta Vista Premium Estate Torrontes 2015, very nice; and even better Rutini Sauvignon Blanc 2016. This is an unusual wine for Argentina but Sauvignon Blanc is gaining ground. Pun intended. I am not a big white wine drinker, but these went down easy and were light for midday.

Sunday, Jan. 29

I found the best ice cream! Freddo. It is 88 degrees so I had a cup of chocolate with almonds and dulce de leche with brownie! I may have some daily!

Today I have walked 15,207 steps, or about 6.5 miles. They should call this the Park City. There are parks everywhere, many with statues. They even have yellow beach chairs so I guess this is the summer beach!

There is a sculpture of a flower. It opens in sunlight and closes at night.

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Only problem: someone said it no longer operates. It was open when I saw it. Someone else said it was fixed.

I checked out of my cute boutique hotel and the desk woman said since I was paying with a credit card I get a discount. Also, I didn’t have to pay the 21% tax.

She said the exchange rate is 16 pesos to the dollar. I thought it was 15. Is the dollar strengthening? I guess so. Great.

Today I join the wine tour. I am in the Old World fancy hotel. I saw an edited version of  the Australian Open final. I am so happy to see Roger and Rafa in the final! Go Roger!!

I went to a supermarket for wine and water for the room and was totally overwhelmed by the wine selection! I have a bottle of Dona Paula Estate red wine Black Edition. It is okay but I look forward to the very fine wines ahead! We had dinner  in one of the finest restaurants in Buenos Aires. Cabana Las Lilas in Puerto Madero. Yes, the steak was delicious!!!

The wines were Saint Felicien Malbec 2015,  Dona Silvina Malbec 2015 and Andeluna Altitud Cabernet Sauvignon 2013.

Saturday, Jan. 28

What a delightful evening. — Friday night.

Helen is 26, a lawyer and originally from Peru. She came to Buenos Aires when she was 15. She is the oldest of 4 children and her parents are here too.
Gustavo is 30 and studying business. He is the boy after 4 girls in his family! but so sweet.
We talked about economics, finance, politics,  travel etc. for 3 hours.
I was surprised to hear things here are more expensive than Peru — by a lot. It is all taxes.
They asked about Trump and if I knew about the Argentine default problem and a judge Griesa.
Helen also talked about her father being denied a visa to the US after 9/11. So we talked about terrorism.

We talked with the cellphone for translation and I had a lesson in Spanish and they expanded their English. They go to a lunch class on English conversation.
They are a lovely couple! Thank you Sallie and Rob. They send their regards.

I toured the Teatro Colon today.

I knew there were no performances because it is summer vacation so I’ll just have to come back!! It is broadcast on the Internet so I’ll check it out.
It is a beautiful old theater and was just restored.
I had my first taxi ride. It was very reasonable. Everyone seems so nice although I have seen homeless and people ask for money.
Then I walked home to see the neighborhoods.
There’s a crafts fair near my hotel on weekends. It was very crowded.

It is in the 80s today, read hot!
I had walked along Calle Florida and would have liked a T-shirt but it was $30 so I understood what Gustavo was saying about high prices.
Dinner was at the Rodi Bar– ravioli and Malbec.

By the  way, I walked 12,883 steps on Thursday, or 4.5 miles; 14,848 steps on Friday, or 5.9 miles; and 16,855 steps on Saturday, or 6.4 miles, according to my iPhone.

Friday, Jan. 27

Wow. What a small world. I ran into two women from my trip to Cuba two years ago! Yes. In Buenos Aires. They are on an Oat trip. I remembered Ann’s name. She didn’t remember my name but recalled her last image of me — dancing with a waiter! True! Funny!

I am ahead of myself. I awoke to that felling of where am I? I slept soundly. It made a huge difference. Then I realized I was in Argentina. I spent most of the day on the Buenos Aires tour bus and walking everywhere. I sat on the bus for 3 hours! What a big city this is. The architecture is incredible. There are loads of new skyscrapers.  Everyone seems to live in these multistory towers. I didn’t see any single-family homes, but I wasn’t in the suburbs.

The roads are very wide and there are parks everywhere. They call this the Paris of South America and I can understand it. It is beautiful.

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There’s a relatively new section across the Plata River called Puerto Madero. Salvatore Calatrava built a bridge across — Bridge of the Woman. It is exquisite. He did the great bridge by the Guggenheim Museum in Bilboa, Spain. I even think he designed the new subway at Ground Zero, but I am not sure. I  need to be a tourist in New York again.

Anyway, I walked over the bridge. It’s like the one in London near the Tate — a walking bridge only. This one swings. It is said that the design is of a woman doing the tango! I’ll see if I can figure out importing the picture. The connection is iffy though so I apologize.

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Tonight I am out with Gustavo and his girlfriend for dinner. He is an acquaintance of my friend Sallie. She picked him up in Madrid and I have no clue. Sallie talks to everyone. She has that Midwestern friendly and trusting soul! It should be interesting to hear a native talk about his city. He wants to practice his English. I will try my Spanish. They say caio for goodbye, not adios! The Italian influence I guess. Carmela are you reading!

I am drinking a Norton Malbec 2011. It is smooth and a little like a Tempranillo — aged with dark fruit.

Caio for now.

Thursday, Jan. 26

I landed in Buenos Aires this morning. It was a smooth flight, thank goodness.  And it was on time, but we waited for a gate. Sound familiar?

Buenos Aires looks like many other cities around the world so far but I am too tired to do much yet. I walked around the Recoleta section today. It is a middle class area that could be like Paris or Madrid or wherever. The sidewalks are broken or cracked so you have to watch your step. And there is dog poop in many places.

The area is known for the cemetery so i walked into it. Eva Peron, alias Evita, “Don’t Cry for me Argentina…” is there along with other rich people. There are incredible monuments to people — marble or with pictures of the dead and intricate designs. I’ll see more of it on Monday when my tour group goes around the city.

Just for the record, I am having a little Internet problem and am sitting in the hotel lobby to write this.  Also, WordPress comes up in Spanish on my iPad. Funny.

One business note :  There was a $6 or $7 charge for using the ATM!

I needed the cash for the brew pub I visited. I’ll need AA and Weight Watchers when I get home.

Hasta manana

I am leaving tomorrow night for a wine tour in Argentina and then over the Andes to Chile. I’ll be on my own for a few days in Buenos Aires and then join the tour led by Britt and Per Karlsson.

I thought you might like to follow along and share my adventures. I am on my iPad or iPhone and have wifi. I am hoping to get a connection to the Internet, so keep your fingers crossed, please.

Here are the trip details.

I am flying nonstop to Buenos Aires.  I’ll be staying in the Recoleta section. As luck would have it, The Wall Street Journal just wrote this about the area:

“Recoleta, one of Buenos Aires’s most elegant and wealthiest enclaves, has the look and feel of a traditional European city. A magnet for tourists and the well-heeled, the neighborhood, or barrio, is home to tree-lined boulevards, museums and galleries and French heritage-style buildings, which house some of the city’s most expensive homes.”

If you want to read the entire article http://www.mansionglobal.com/articles/50889-with-its-european-feel-buenos-aires-recoleta-is-chock-full-of-amenities

I’ll catch up with you once I land on Thursday. Adios for now.