Last night the 12th edition of Vinos Y Bodegas, Argentina’s biggest wine expo, got underway at the giant exhibition centre of La Rural in Palermo, Buenos Aires. Although tending towards extremely crowded, particularly on the last two evenings Friday and Saturday, the event is a must for any wine lover, and even more so for those who are relatively new to the local wine scene. At Vinos y Bodegas visitors literally have the chance to taste their way around the country, visiting all the country’s major wine producing regions in the 5000m2 space filled with 70 wineries and over 1000 wines to try.
It is a mammoth task, here’s how to get the best out of it:
The doors open at 18:00 hours each day from Wednesday 12 to Saturday 15 September, make sure you are first over the threshold. After 20:00 the crowd becomes a solid mass fueled by wine and you find yourself cueing to get a taste and with almost no hope of making sensible conversation with the mobbed sommeliers.
Go On Wednesday or Thursday.
Wednesday, the opening day (although now past, it is good to note for next year) is always the best choice as the place remains easily navigable most of the night until the close at 22:00. There are always the inevitable teething problems, most commonly the late arrival of ice to chill the white wines, but it is always worth it. Thursday is your next best bet. Friday and Saturday rapidly degenerate into a pre-party for those heading out later, but if these are your only options, don’t hesitate, it is still worth it, you’re just going to have to work a little harder.
Pen, paper, water.
To get the best out of the expo you really should make the effort to take down some notes, you will thank yourself later. No matter how much spitting and water drinking you do, things inevitably tend to blur together as the nigh wears on due to sheer quantity, and even more so if you are unfamiliar with the wineries. The thing about this expo is that you won’t be tasting the greatest wines on the market, rather the wines you will be drinking and buying on a much more regular basis. The lists and notes you make will be an invaluable guide when purchasing in wine shops later on.
Take a bottle of water with you as it is extremely hard to get hold of once inside.
You’ve heard it a million times but it bears repeating. Once you have tasted a few big red wines the whites really have no chance of getting noticed in your mouth. While the wineries will always suggest you try their entire line of wines since you are already there, stand fast and move on to the next white wine – you won’t regret it. Best case scenario is to come on two separate nights and divide up your tasting schedule by varietal, but that’s a level of wine nerdiness too far for most.
Take an extra 50 pesos.
This year for the first time they have a small secondary section dedicated to sparkling and limited production wines. For fifty pesos you get to taste the wines of three of the ten wineries present, a bargain when you consider the quality of the wines on show here.
What to try.
I’ve barely scratched the surface, but here are a couple that stood out on my first night. While the biggest names in Argentine wine tend to be Mendocino, there are some gems coming out from the south. Look out for Bodega Miras’ Merlot. The new white on the scene is an Albariño from Viñas Las Perdices, a lovely wine definitely worth trying. Alfredo Roca is another winery making excellent wines throughout their range which you can try at their stands in the normal exhibition room as well as in the Limited Production section. If you splash out on the extra entry into the Limited Production section, don’t miss the Cheval des Andes a wine resulting from a special collaboration between LVMH owned Terrazas de los Andes and Pierre Lurton of Cheval Blanc.
Expo Vinos Y Bodegas:
Entry: ARG$120 (ARG$50 for the Limited Production and Sparkling wine section)
Dates: 12 – 15 September
Where: La Rural, Palermo, Buenos Aires. (Plaza Italia stop on the green D line of the subte)
Times: 18:00 – 22:00 (Thurs. – Sat. trade hours for special invitees from 15:00)
Greg de Villiers, a South African food photographer and travel writer, lives – for now – in Buenos Aires. To see more of his work, visit: gregdevilliers.com. To find out more about his life philosophy, sit yourself down in the most beautiful place you can imagine, with the best bottle of wine you can find, and drink it all; slowly, lovingly but all of it, down to the very. last. drop.