Making wine at the end of the world…Bodega del Fin del Mundo

As I ventured further south into the Pampas and beyond of Argentina, it really did begin to feel like the end of the world. The Argentines  have a phrase, “el culo del mundo”  which roughly translates as the “ass of the world” . Once you’ve gone 15 hrs on a bus on a 2 lane highway that never wavers, never swerves, just one long, lone straight line that disappears into the distance, either side of the highway, not a hillock in sight, flat as a pancake, just the land and the sky. It is a lonely feeling. Eventually, you do come upon a major settlement and that would be the capital city of Neuquen, deep in Patagonia. A dusty, low slung city, once you leave the city limits you are back into the desert and then, trees, a (man made) lake, signs of life. This is where Bodega del Fin Del Mundo is, 50 kms outside of Neuquen at a road that ends in vines. The Bodega del Fin del Mundo winery, like most of the wineries in Neuquen is fairly new, having been built within the last 10 years. Lots of stainless steel tanks, state of the art technology and a good size cave, which houses more than 2000 oak barrels, both French and American, give it an up-to-the-minute feel despite it’s lonely location. The winery is technically in the designated grape producing region of San Particio del Chañar, within the Patagonian province of Neuquen. San Patricio del Chañar is very dry (less then 180 ml rainfall annually) and the winery relies on irrigation to water it’s 800 hectares of grapes. Another definitive factor in the grape production is the strong Patagonian winds that blow constantly, causing the grapes to have thick skins which contributes mightly to the colour without the need for much extraction.   BFDM grow a variety of red and white varietals, malbec, merlot, cabernet sauvignon, pinot noir, chardonnay and sauvignon blanc amongst others. I tasted through their various ranges,...

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Naked Wines auction at the Argentina trade tasting

What if you were set loose on a trade tasting with 1000’s of wines to try and you had to pick just 10 to put on your winelist? How do you do it? You could go the old boring route and try all those wines or you could recruit a bunch of willing tasters to pick those wines for you. Which is exactly what Naked Wines did at the recent Wines of Argentina trade tasting. Naked wines invited 60 of their Naked Angels (people who sponsor and buy wine from specific winemakers on the Naked site)  to the Wines of Argentina trade tasting to choose 10 wines out of roughly 100 staff picked wines to add to the Naked Wines website. We were divided up into teams with a list of 25 wines each and set loose on the tasting. We then ranked the wines. The top 10 wines were tried and we then set a price as to how much we would pay for each of those particular wines. Where does the auction part come in? After the tasting of the top 10 wines, Naked gathers all of our prices and comes up with an average which then becomes the starting price for the wine. There is a £100,000 pot which is divided up amongst the wines based on how close the reps come to Naked’s price. It’s a rather complicated algorithm they use but it gets the job done. The reps are then brought in and the auction begins – Naked makes an offer and the  reps counter offer and so on and so forth for about 45 minutes when the auction is declared over and we get to see how much of each wine was bought. One of my favourite wines at the tasting was La Poderosa 2006 produced by Bodega del Fin del Mundo (which means bottom of the world) in Patagonia.  A rich, full bodied red, loads of ripe black fruits and silky smooth, a blend of malbec, cabernet franc, petit verdot, and tannat, it is the powerful one and even though it was an ’06,...

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