A visit to Buenos Aires
With my world travel mode engaged, I left Jamaica for a destination I have only read about: the home of Malbec, Messi and steak - Argentina. More specifically, its capital, Buenos Aires.
Stepping out of the airport, I felt like I had stepped into an air-conditioned room. Their room temperature is very different from ours. Buenos Aires is a beautiful city with influences of French architecture. Touring the city both by bus and on foot, you see a country frozen in time. The buildings and monuments remind you of Paris and other European cities. This particular trip was to a conference - Expo Aladi, which brought together exporters from all across Latin America in one location to showcase their products.
I was right at home, as I found a number of wine shops offering tastings. You can just imagine, I was in Malbec heaven. Malbec of different styles and from different regions, most from Mendoza, which is one of the major wine-producing regions. But I did try a Malbec Elementos, from Salta, which is further north, to fully appreciate the differences.
As I visited various restaurants, it became clear how important wines, but more specifically Malbecs, are to the Argentina lifestyle. It's like rum or beer to Jamaicans.
Though not there on a wine excursion, I did meet a few wine producers. Among them were Jorge and David Benites of Melodia Wines. It was great conversing with them, getting a sense of the growing trends among wine producers in Argentina.
Malbec is evolving from being their staple red varietal of choice, and is now making way for the rose, to capture new, young, wine drinkers.
Rose Malbecs offer the best of both worlds, and is ideal for our market - pretty pink colour, fruity nose and sweet on the tongue. I had the privilege of sampling a few and they are clearly on to something that will be very successful.
The sparkling Rose Malbec, in particular, is a real lady-pleaser, judging by the comments from a number of women who participated in the evening's tastings at the conference. I hope some of these wines will soon make it on to shelves in Jamaica.
One cannot talk about a wine experience in Buenos Aires and not mention food. Steaks are the order of the day, and the multitude of restaurants make sure it is a staple on their menus. I found myself wandering the streets near my hotel and came across Cabildo, which occupies two storeys at the corner of an intersection. I couldn't resist stopping for a lunchtime steak and, naturally, enjoying it on the sidewalk. It is such a different feeling and experience and actually quite relaxing.
This particular day, there was a Polish celebration about two blocks away, and you could hear the music in the background echoing through the streets while persons enjoyed taking walks. Again, Malbec is indeed appropriate with steak - and what a steak it was! I don't think there is anywhere I ate and the steak wasn't good. The portions are certainly not small, and even Burger King's steakhouse had a proper steak. That was a shocker!
The city is engaging in the day, but certainly comes to life at night. The buildings are beautifully lit to highlight the architecture. One evening while taking a stroll, I came across a bridge like no other - Puente de la Mujer - which is impressive in the day but breathtakingly beautiful at night. Think tango or the philharmonic orchestra right in the heart of the city. Looking for a younger crowd, I went to dinner at Asia de Cuba for sushi and a steak with a few friends. It turned into a pumping dance party after. Argentinians certainly know how to eat, drink and play well.
n I am not an expert, merely a wine enthusiast sharing my thoughts and experiences. Feel free to share your own experiences at firstname.lastname@example.org.