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.
This week I enjoyed The National University of Cuyo’s Symphonic Orchestra conducted by Luis Gorelik at the beautiful Teatro Independencia.
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.
Argentines are celebrating twofold today. Easter vacation has just begun, and it’s cleared everyone’s schedule to celebrate their national drink: Malbec.
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.
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.
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.
Images courtesy of Wines of Argentina & Bodegas de Argentina
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Around 250,000 people rally to watch the vibrant Carrusel parade, which also celebrates the various communities who contribute to the grape harvest.
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.
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.
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.
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.