The glorious & the rather unglorious twelfth!
It’s sparrow’s fart on this 12th August 2019, inflation depending, ”up went 50 pounds, bang went 95 pence and down came ten quid” (as the old saying about driven game used to go) Yes, The Glorious 12th has come round again and as quickly as Emerson Fitipaldi used to zip around Brands Hatch in a practice session for the British Grand Prix. Down here in the southern hemisphere it’s been another story altogether, but at sparrow’s fart on the same 12th of August, in what I can only describe as The ‘rather’ unglorious 12th. We all went to bed at the close of business on the previous Friday last with 45 Argy pesos to the U$dollar, and then woke up on the Monday morning, the 12th, with 1 dollar costing a little over 60 Argy pesos to the dollar. For the local hardcore stock market, which by the way they had to shut down early as it was close to wiping 49%+ off the value of the top 25, albeit Argentine companies. Shedding their value like heavy old snake skin just flaking away. And it all came crashing down to earth, Humpty Dumpty style and continued to do so for most of the week due to the inept and arrogant government here that is still lead by a business type, trying to save face when he has messed up super badly, who goes by the name of Mauricio Macaroni cheese, and all of his cronies. What a total mess up (refraining from the F word) for all. They would or could have turned over, that morning, more GDP on the Lagopus (grouse) moors of Scotland in the first two hours of shooting than the whole of the Republic of Argyland would have done all day, until close of market and that’s of course even if they did have some product to show for it. The end of the saga was left to Moody or whoever does this stuff this days? But the country (touted as the 25th largest economy in the world) was downgraded from a B to CCC bond rating, which places it in the company of only Zambia and the Republic of Congo. Barvissio?
So, once again the only National shooting day going on around here has been directed, directly at their own feet. Now, if you are reading this and you happen to be outside the 278 million sq/kms of the republic it wont really have any effect on you at all unless you are a fan of the good, strong hi-Andean Malbec. Your supermarket prices will rise to a number that you may start to ask yourself, is it really worth it anymore? It’s not your local exchange rate that will contribute to the increase in price, it will be the import prices in Argentina of corks, glass bottles, wooden oak barrels and raw product needed for the packaging and the production of their local red wine for export.
So if you are lunching today on roasted Grouse with lashings of hot bread sauce somewhere in St.James’s, or for that matter anywhere in the safe, green and pleasant Elgar land. I hope you are enjoying it, I am jealous of course. And if you were thinking of buying the last dregs of decently priced top Argentine wine, let me tell you that I have just returned from a lovely weekend in Xuxuy (sounds like: who-whoeea) the northern most province in the republic, bordering with southern Bolivia. I was shown around and then tasted what must be the highest commercial wine/vineyard in the world today and, and thank goodness maybe the most drinkable, though super high in alcohol like all hi-altitude wines are these days. Bodega Perchel’s 2016 Tannat-Malbec that goes by the name of ‘Runa’ went down very well indeed with some home baked minced meat (probably llama) empanadas.
The Bodega is located as I mentioned earlier well into the North of the Argentine Republic, in the middle of the Quebrada de Humauhaca and near the village of Tilcara. Viñas del Perchel, belonging to the Vargas family, defies extreme soil and climate conditions.
To tame the strength of the grapes that defend themselves from the merciless sun at this altitude, increasing the thickness of the skin that produces a highly tannic wine, they need to leave the grapes on the vine, wild! and until the last minute before harvesting.
Although it is concentrated, in the winery they try to determine the opportune moment of harvest without anticipating it, because if the tannins are not completely ripe the wine can be bitter, heavy, hot, almost candied, and the best thing obviously is not to lose the fruits of the forest, and their offering of spices. But also to neither exaggerate the ripening process to pick too early because then the acidity that is necessary to preserve the freshness will fall.
The harvest is done by hand, by family and friends, avoiding breaking the grapes which is facilitated by having such a thick skin. Then they go through selection process, and placed in the disk-mixer. Then they go through the grinder and a small part of the broom goes to the fermentation tank to provide tannins. It is expected three to four days spontaneous fermentation and unintentionally does so as a cold pre-maceration on the cold nights of April. The process takes minimal intervention.
The juice is fermented and allowed to macerate for up to 30 days to give volume and rounded tannins. The mix begins to soften, it then goes through malolactic fermentation and is always totally uncovered, then separating solid from liquid.
The juice is then placed in a tank to decant, it is not filtered, thank goodness, and mainly due to lack of filters and also the logistical problems of getting stuff to the winery, and then just as soon as the wine is ready, it is poured into second use barrels.
The 2016 vintage was the first vintage that went wholly into one hundred percent first-use French oak, and in the middle of the year a gentle racking was done.
The wine is pure power, like a diamond in the rough, it has a strong personality that requires all the wisdom of the Pachamama to polish it off.
If you want to try the wine, 2016 Runa it will set you back GB £79.95 per bottle including taxes and delivery. Orders*: firstname.lastname@example.org