Happy Easter!  (at Mendoza, Argentina)

Happy Easter! (at Mendoza, Argentina)

Punch Buggy Love Bug! (at Mendoza, Argentina)

Punch Buggy Love Bug! (at Mendoza, Argentina)

Mendoza’s Classic Music Festival

Since 2000, Mendoza’s Ministry of Culture has been organizing an international classic music festival during Holy Week. The festival brings talented solo artists and respected orchestras to venues along Mendoza’s wine routes known as “Caminos del Vino.”

Over 50 concerts are played in renowned wineries throughout Lujan de Cuyo and the Uco Valley, as well as outdoor amphitheaters, churches and cultural centers.

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This week I enjoyed The National University of Cuyo’s Symphonic Orchestra conducted by Luis Gorelik at the beautiful Teatro Independencia.

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My favorite piece was Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks Op. 28 written by German composer Richard Strauss in 1894. Gorelik introduced the work by explaining that the music chronicle’s the misadventures of peasant folk hero Till Eulenspiegel as he rides his horse through the countryside and is subsequently hanged for his taunting pranks. He explained how Strauss’ works were very influential and you could even hear the echoes of Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks in the Looney Tunes cartoon music.

Here’s a short clip of the violin love theme, which represents Till’s attempt to romance women he meets along the way.

It’s Malbec World Day!

Argentines are celebrating twofold today. Easter vacation has just begun, and it’s cleared everyone’s schedule to celebrate their national drink: Malbec.

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However, patriotic countrymen and women aren’t the only ones honoring this supreme varietal, the world has joined in to fête Argentina’s emblematic grape. Over 150 events (or “crushing parties” as some have dubbed them) are taking place for Malbec World Day in 68 cities across 43 countries around the world. Buenos Aires, New York City, London, Lima, Sao Paulo, and Mexico City are all partying in the name of Malbec this month.

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Why April 17th? It was on this day in 1853 that a bill was submitted to the provincial legislature to create Argentina’s first national school of viticulture. Months later, La Quinta Normal de Agricultura was established in Mendoza and President Domingo Faustino Sarmiento called on French agronomist Michel Aimé Pouget to run the school.

There Pouget taught winemakers and vinters how to cultivate the Malbec varietal, which he had carried with him from south west France. Thus, April 17th marks the historic starting point of Malbec’s journey to become the flagship grape of Argentina.

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So today of all days, uncork a bottle of Mendocino Malbec and cheers to Pouget’s legacy and all those who’ve helped secure Mendoza’s place on the list of Great Wine Capitals of the World.

Chin-chin!

Images courtesy of Wines of Argentina & Bodegas de Argentina

Buenos Aires Takes Brooklyn

Argentina is a hot destination these days. I should know. It was alluring enough for me to pack up and move my life to Mendoza, whose famous Malbec grape is being celebrated around the world this month. In honor of Malbec World Day tomorrow, Wines of Argentina is taking the sounds, tastes and smells of Argentina beyond the country’s borders.  

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New Yorkers can crash the Argentine Cambalache tonight and tomorrow night at the BKB Night Bazaar on 165 Banker Street in Brooklyn from 6:00 PM to 11:00 PM.

You may be wondering what a Cambalache is, and I’ll tell you, because I had to look it up myself. The term Cambalache, which loosely translates to “junk shop”, was made popular in 1934 by Enrique Santos Discépolo’s subversive tango song of the same name. Its lyrics criticize Argentina´s culture and corruption and was subsequently banned by dictatorial governments.

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The Cambalache is bringing the soul of Argentina to the Big Apple with a big splash of culture: Malbec, modern tango, empanadas, street art, Fernet cocktails and dance music. Eighty dollars will buy you a bottomless glass with over 120 top Argentine wines to choose from, free flowing Quilmes beer, and as much beef and dulce de leche ice cream as your stomach can handle.  

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Argentine graffiti artists will be painting murals, traditional ‘mate’ tea will be served by sexy gauchos, Nuevo Tango will be playing in a mock Buenos Aires nightclub, and lessons in practical Argentine slang will earn you street cred on your next visit. Porteños do love their electronica and DJ Uproot Andy will be spinning Buenos Aires-worthy beats.

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This is the closest you are going to get to Argentina until you bite the bullet and shell out over a thousand greenbacks for a non-stop flight to EZE.

You can buy $80.00 tickets for April 16 or April 17, 2014 in advance here: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/588710, or get them at the door for $90.00.

(Twitter Tip: Use the discount code “duncan” to get 50% off the ticket price.)

Images courtesy of Wines of Argentina

Enjoying the sweet nectar of the grapes maybe more than the wine.  (at Las Terrazas Vineyard)

Enjoying the sweet nectar of the grapes maybe more than the wine. (at Las Terrazas Vineyard)

Fashionable harvest accessories.  (at Las Terrazas Vineyard)

Fashionable harvest accessories. (at Las Terrazas Vineyard)

The Malbec grapes are plump for the picking.  (at Las Terrazas Vineyard)

The Malbec grapes are plump for the picking. (at Las Terrazas Vineyard)

The harvesters are assembled.  (at Las Terrazas Vineyard)

The harvesters are assembled. (at Las Terrazas Vineyard)

Mendoza’s grape harvest is about to begin.  (at Las Terrazas Vineyard)

Mendoza’s grape harvest is about to begin. (at Las Terrazas Vineyard)

Time to harvest the Malbec. (at Las Terrazas Vineyard)

Time to harvest the Malbec. (at Las Terrazas Vineyard)

A little bit of ambiance. (at Las Terrazas)

A little bit of ambiance. (at Las Terrazas)

The mountains are calling and I must go. -John Muir (at Uco Valley, Mendoza)

The mountains are calling and I must go. -John Muir (at Uco Valley, Mendoza)

If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough. -Meister Eckhart (at Gratitude Chapel )

If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough. -Meister Eckhart (at Gratitude Chapel )

Wine tasting, anyone?

Wine tasting, anyone?