March 12, 2013

The Italian side of Maipu

Buenos Aires, at least the capital city itself, is a dramatic and cosmopolitan city. It often feels and sounds and looks European. Italy to be exact. So too the narrow roads of Maipu.

One day we went walking along some of these narrow roads. Most people drive, or cycle; few walk. Consequently we attracted the attention of a young police officer who pulled us over to ask what we were doing walking around Maipu along the roads. As we were visiting several wineries and doing the usual tastings at each, we replied, "Drinking and walking Officer." Not funny apparently. He didn't want his photo taken either.

Maipu is a small town and region to the south of the city of Mendoza. Both are located in the centre of one of the largest wine producing regions in the world, the Province of Mendoza. In fact 95% of Argentina's wine production comes from this province.

In this part of the province the climate is a semi-desert. Most of the agricultural production depends on irrigation canals from the Andes mountains to the west. The area receives about 200 mm of rain each year. In comparison, Vancouver receives 1600 mm of precipitation annually while the South Okanagan wine region about 310 mm. This is a dry and dusty place.

Change is coming to this region as mechanization slowly takes the place of pickers. The large harvesting machines are increasingly used, though many winemakers continue to support, and encourage hand picking of the grapes.

But I digress. We should be tasting some wine by now. In this case at a charming little bodega called Familia di Tommaso which sounds Italian because the family came from Italy generations ago and remains in business to this day. The restaurant is charming too, and the view as we walk back to our posada is...

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