Malbec and Meat in Mendoza

Like neighbouring Chile, Argentina is now world-famous for its wine, and the ground zero of Argentinian vino is Mendoza. At around 700m above sea level, nestled in the eastern foothills of the Andes, with a tree-lined Spanish colonial town centre, and a sunny climate that lends itself to al fresco eating and drinking, Mendoza would be a lovely place to visit, even without the famous alcohol. “The Land of Sun and Wine” certainly lives up to its name, with miles of vineyards and hundreds of wineries dotted around the province, which together produce over 2/3 of Argentina’s wine. Continue reading

Wine Me Up

Like many parts of the New World, it was Christianity that originally brought the grapevine to Chile.  European vines were brought here by Spanish conquistadors and missionaries in the 16th century, with the first recorded plantings in the country made in 1548 by a catholic priest, who brought a selection of vines from Spain.  But it wasn’t until the second half of the 19th century that quality wine production began in earnest, when Phylloxera destroyed numerous vineyards in France, and French winemakers moved en masse to South America.  With its dry climate and sunny days (and its freedom from all those nasty grapevine pests and diseases), Chile is now one of the world’s most famous wine-growing countries.  And, like the coffee and chocolate tours of Central America, one can now spend a few hours touring the vineyards, learning the oenological facts, speaking the (slightly pretentious) lingo, and (most importantly of all) drinking. Continue reading