Last month, I spent 10 days travelling in Argentinean and Chilean wine country. It was my maiden voyage to both countries, and I had a lot on the agenda. I'm looking forward to describing the wine scenes in both of these countries. Let's start with a quick PSA: If you're an American travelling to Argentina by way of Santiago, Chile, don't forget to pay the reciprocity tax. BEFORE you touch down in Santiago. Otherwise, you may find yourself in line, expecting to board your connecting flight to Mendoza, without the proof of reciprocity tax payment that every other American (or Australian) seems to have.
Having learned my lesson, I headed to the LAN Airlines desk, hopped on one of their computers and set up my $161 payment to Argentina. As long as we charge them to visit our country, they of course will charge us to visit theirs. Reciprocity! Personally I think a little reciprocity is great in personal relationships, but between two countries, can't we just both agree to allow freedom of movement without the reciprocity tax?
OK, PSA/rant over.
I took advantage of the extra time to read, buy some snacks, and pick up this guide.
Patricio Tapia covers the Argentina and Chile beat, as well as Spain, for Wine & Spirits Magazine . He also puts together this guidebook, Descorchados, for the wines of Chile and Argentina. He resides in Santiago, is a native born Chilean, and in my mind is not only one of the most gifted critics to review wine in the Spanish language (English as well, his work for W&S is in English, of course), but he is simply one of the best reviewers and wine writers working today. Check out Tapia's work, I think there is an iPhone app for Descorchados.
While I did not have a window seat to see the impressive Andes Mountains from the plane, I will cheat and show a photo I took on the flight back from Mendoza to Santiago.
I settled into my spot in Chacras de Coria, a quiet, leafy town south of Mendoza, right near Lujan de Cuyo, an area famous for its older Malbec vines and historic bodegas. Time for dinner!
Yes, that ribeye tasted every bit as delicious as it looks. And with the savory, thyme and bay tinged chimichurri? I think I can hang here for a few days.
Y pa' tomar...2006 Carmelo Patti Cabernet Sauvignon.
Welcome to Mendoza wine country.