Argentina: The Deal of the Century

“We just paid $47 for a three-person steak dinner at one of the best steakhouses in the world!” Will reported.

Last week, half the Bonner Private Wine Partnership team – Will, Diego, and Julien – were on a whirlwind trip around Argentina. Their mission was two-fold: first, to check up on the growing season (now halfway through), and second, to take advantage of an extremely low peso to make deals.

And that peso is low! Over the past couple years, inflation rates have ticked as high as 50%! Not that the Argentines are fazed. The streets of Buenos Aires – as beautiful as any in Paris – remain as lively as ever, livelier even, given that any peso not spent is a peso lost.

A toast with friends out on the streets of Buenos Aires

“I took out around $300 in pesos to spend for the week. I was literally not able to spend all of it. And the three of us ate out for pretty much every meal,” confirmed Will.

In other words, it’s a great time to exchange dollars for wine.

More on that belowFirst, Julien sums up his thoughts about the Argentina trip – including his favorite wines, moments… and what caused him to walk away utterly stunned despite, having made wines all over the world in places as far flung as New Zealand…

After spending the night in Buenos Aires, the team left for the Northwest, where they met local fixer Sergio at a cantina in the small town of San Lorenzo. I say “fixer,” but the real story is that Sergio is related to nearly every single person of note in the valley.

The first stop was in Cafayate, a small frontier town-turned-winelover’s “Shangri-La,” where people from all over the world congregate to sip wine, play golf (there’s a Bob Cupp golf course right there), and enjoy sunny, 75-degree days year-round.

There, the team met with Sunal winemaker Augustín Lanus and his partner David Galland.

Augustín, on the left

Besides his excellent red wines, Augustín also revealed that he had a line on an experimental wine made from Argentina’s oldest grape (yes, even older than malbec), the criolla, originally brought in by the conquistadors and early missionaries.

For a century or so, criolla has been relegated to that most untouchable of wine castes: “communion wine.” Yet it may be primed for a big leap; after all, criolla has been producing excellent wine on the black slopes of the Canary Islands since the 1500s. And Julien was absolutely fascinated when Augustín offered him a taste. Stay tuned…

From there… our trio ventured further into the high desert…

Diego, in the background the Angastaco Valley

…to the top of the world… la cuesta

…and beyond… where they happened upon a most surreal sight:

A hallway inside the museum 

A modern art museum devoted to LA artist James Turrell sitting in the middle of the desert.

 The museum is part of Colomé, a winery belonging to Swiss wine magnate Donald Hess.

Julien samples wines with Colomé’s head winemaker, Thibault Delmotte

Longtime readers will remember Colomé as having recently secured the twenty-fifth spot on this year’s “Top 50 World’s Best Vineyards” list. To put that in context, Colomé beat out three of the most famous wineries in the world: Mouton Rothschild, Veuve-Clicquot, and Ruinart.

 To put that further in context, the last vintage of Mouton goes for about $600 a bottle. Comparatively, the wines of this region – the Calchaquí Valley – are a steal…

 …though they may not be for long.

 Says Julien, “Give it five to ten years, this area will the hottest wine spot in the world.”

We hope so… Up the road from Colomé (about an hour or so, if the conditions are good) is our very own Gualfin…

As Will and Co. discovered at Gualfin, this year is on track to be one of the best – if not THE best – in our history.

But we’ll leave our report here for this week…

Until next time…

Bonner Private Wine Partnership

P.S. Champagne for New Years? A Châteauneuf-du-Pape or St-Emilion to impress that wine lover you know? We still have a limited number of cases of our French wines up for grabs. 20% off (and shipping is free, as always). Click here to check out our inventory…