Merced del Estero, in the über-sunny San Juan region of Argentina, has been tending vineyards under the care of the familia Rodriguez for three generations, since 1897.
But it took me just one iteration of the annual
Argentina Wine Awards to help screw them up a little bit.
MdE was one of the producer visit stops for a group of about half of AWA judges that followed the awards judging, seminar and winners’ gala in February. It was also one of the most unassuming – twelve hectares of estate vineyards, west of the Tulum Valley, close enough to the Andes to be impacted by the hot sonda winds, and sitting about 700 meters above sea level (which sounds impressive, but that’s about average for a lot of fine wine grapegrowing in the high elevation dessert of Argentina).
The first thing that you notice about the Rodriguez family vineyards – if you’re a geek like me, I mean – is that many of the vines are trained in pergolas, reaching fairly high off the ground. The second thing you’ll notice is that the Bonarda (planned to be introduced to the MdE lineup this year) on the sunnier, exposed areas of the pergola are practically… raisins.
Which you’d resemble, too, if you were openly exposed to that punishing sun for as long as they are…
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This week, I’m teaming up with southern-born author Corinne Van Houten to give away a copy of her Carneros wine tour CD.
The CD (remember those? don’t worry, an audio file version is also in the works) is an engaging introduction to the Carneros region, highlighting the history of (and providing current tasting/visiting tips for) eleven wineries in the area that straddles both Sonoma and Napa valleys. For my money, Carneros is one of the few areas in Napa where Pinot Noir has a shot at über-specialness (and let’s not forget that on the Sonoma side, a stunning Carneros Pinot made Dude’s Top 10 MIW list for 2012).
Corinne’s CD is aimed at beginners (and/or those putting foot-to-dirt in touring the area), but aside from gifting possibilities there’s ample fodder within Corinne’s CD for the geekier among you who have yet to visit Carneros: it includes $40 worth of tasting coupons, and a map for each winery mentioned). In terms of the winery players, Bouchaine, Ceja, Cline, Domaine Carneros, Homewood, Larson Family, McKenzie-Mueller, Robledo, Roche, Schug and Truchard Winery all get profiled on the CD (several of these producers I’ve personally yet to visit, but now have a hankering to see – and taste – after hearing Corrine’s descriptions).
To be eligible to win, you need to live in the continental U.S., and be a 21+ years old carbon-based life form consisting mostly of water. You also need to leave a comment on this post telling us all about your fave wine tour (and/or tasting spot) – doesn’t matter where, I’m just curious who’s doing it right. On April 9th at 9PM ET/6PM PT, I will randomly select a winner from the commenters.
Cheers – and good luck!