Of Wines and Men

Remember I invited you to the wine tasting this past Saturday? Well, Marie and I went and, well, lemme tell ya.


Before I turn into a tart, let me set up the scene: me, former wine and cigar enthusiast, Marie, former chef. Both of us congested from the gloomy winter weather, so our noses and palettes were facing a challenge.

Marie enjoying Angulo Innocenti’s Malbec

Our first stop was visiting with the handsome, engaging gentleman representing Angulo Innocenti, Mariano Innocenti. His family’s vineyard is located in Mendoza, Argentina in a low lying, rocky region overlooked by the Andes. Along with grapes, they grow walnuts and fruits on their property. He poured us a sample of his Malbec. A woman joining us at his table noted she’d never tried reds before, she was partial to whites. I held the glass to my lips to watch her reaction, the same reaction most people who aren’t into dry wines give, that puckered face indicating harshness. I fought my congestion to smell the bouquet; earthy, not punchy, no pepper. I ingested it and felt it smooth, almost a buttery finish. In my mind I paired it with a short rolled Maduro of the Ybor City variety.

Bacchus smiled upon us. The nibbles table was freshly replenished with a spread of meat and spinach-filled empanadas just as we turned around. REAL empanadas!  Perfectly executed. As I noshed on my empanadas, Marie sailed us towards the Ernesto Catena table. I continued shoving food in my face while she delivered the requisite “how yoo dooin’?” to the HAWT vineyard representative. Marie produced his business card, cuz she’s a bawse, his name is Mauricio.  Ernesto Catena Vineyards is also located in Mendoza, Argentina.

He presented two styles of Malbec, one heavy with oak, the other, more fruit notes. I enjoyed the former. We discovered his English was spare, so we kindly launched into Spanish to make Mauricio more comfortable, or, at least, more entertained. My Spanish depends on the dialect I’m around, but with the wine and empanadas in me, my accents were hopping the globe. Meanwhile, Marie kept up by listening to Mauricio speak and smiling coyly as she responded with English.

In my best Valley Girl accent, I said to her, “Me gustaria hablar en Espanol como las Blancas.”

Mauricio smiled.

Marie responded with, “Tu eres una puta.”

Mauricio laughed.

And we’re in there like swimwear.

Second from the right is my favorite from Ernesto Catena, their Tahuan Malbec.

We gave beautiful, delightful Mauricio some space to work while we visited the sole representative from Chile, Cono SurThey hail from the San Antonio region. Yet another table of tall, gorgeous, dedicated craftsmen, and Marie and I are now trying to work out how to move to South America and open a B&B near these guys. Why are all South American men beautiful??

We engage one of the gentlemen, and I ask about his white wines. Note to those new to the wine tasting thing: if you know nothing about wine, be honest. These guys want you to enjoy wine the way they do, and they’re happy to assist you in finding one that appeals to your palette. In my case, I told this well-dressed, lovely eyed man I’m not a fan of whites, but I want to find one I can enjoy with friends who insist on white wine. He introduced us to their Sauvignon Blanc. I noticed the label said ‘organic’ as he poured it, and frowned. I’ve had organic wines recently. They are, in a word, shit. Not this one. Very oaky, green peppery, citrus notes, lovely soil, I was standing on the summit of the Andes spinning in place with my arms splayed. Magic. How? He entered into this very engaging description of how they process the wine, reducing the sugars to just 7 grams, leaving that clean taste, resulting in an organic wine that can stand with the classics.

The second wine he presented with great pride, introducing it as the star of Cono Sur, the Pinot Noir. The nose to it was heaven. Marie and I drank, and immediately fell in love with its body. Savory, citrusy, full, deep soil. It conjured up pairing with venison, maybe bison, pheasent. Marie agreed; it was a wine that was perfect for a complex dish. Marie and I talk about food like college frat boys talk about sex, so for us to start planning meals at the mere sip of this wine is a high compliment. Our sommolier was pleased. Gorgeously pleased. His assertiveness, posturing, intellect, maaan… that’s my kind of hype. Then I realized, I’m tipsy. Smartly, he walked away.

“Hey Marie, we didn’t try the white wines at the Ernesto table.”

We flirted up Mauricio some more as we tried the Sauvignon from his vineyard. Marie bore a wide contented smile across her face, which I’ve learned is her finish line smile. Mauricio asked if we wanted more wine. I turned and asked her, “Do you want another round?” then politely silenced as the little angel and devil parked on opposite her shoulders engaged in a debate. Finally she said, “Nah, I’m good.” We slinked (slunk?) away and did the responsible thing: went down the candy aisle and grabbed some chocolate bars for the ride home.





CONO SUR – Sauvignon Blanc

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