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.

image

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.

image

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.

image

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.  

image

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.

image

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.  

image

image

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.

image

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?

Mendoza’s Grape Harvest Festival

Written for Travel + Leisure on March 24, 2014

Mendoza hosted its 78th annual grape harvest festival known as La Fiesta Nacional de la Vendimia, a ten-day cultural celebration that takes place every March and attracts hundreds of thousands of revelers from near and afar.

The festival officially commences with a religious blessing of the crops offering thanks and prayers for a good harvest. It continues with the colorful La Via Blanca and El Carrusel parades where 18 elected beauty queens representing the departments of Mendoza float through the streets on emblematic chariots tossing fruit to animated crowds.

image

Around 250,000 people rally to watch the vibrant Carrusel parade, which also celebrates the various communities who contribute to the grape harvest.

image

image

The festival culminates with the Acto Central, a masterfully choreographed spectacle of folkloric song and dance in one of the world’s largest open-air performances. Wowing 40,000 enthusiastic fans gathered in the outdoor in the Frank Romero Day Greek Amphitheatre and surrounding hills, the Acto Central is as beautiful as it is symbolic.

image

image

Over a thousand performers use music, movement and Broadway-worthy costumes to artfully explain the history of Mendoza and the relationship between man and nature when harvesting grapes into wine. Due to its popularity, the Acto Central is repeated three times.

image

The opening-night performance is followed by the highly anticipated crowning of the Vendimia Queen, while the repetition acts have musical performances from notable bands. All evenings conclude with an impressive firework finale.

image

La Fiesta Nacional de la Vendimia is an exciting time of year to visit Mendoza because the festival unites the entire community with a sense of pride, passion and purpose, and traveler’s get to celebrate the province’s rich cultural heritage and world famous wines right alongside the locals. 

…With steaming thermal baths included… (at Termas Cacheuta Hotel & Resort)

…With steaming thermal baths included… (at Termas Cacheuta Hotel & Resort)

Who could use a spa day this weekend? (at Termas Cacheuta Hotel & Resort)

Who could use a spa day this weekend? (at Termas Cacheuta Hotel & Resort)