Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Zorzal Wine Tour of South America


A dream come true – buy a little winery in Argentina and wine not?! 

This spring  32 guests from Western Canada and Ontario participated in a Zorzal Shareholders Wine Tour of Chile and Argentina.  For many of them it was their first visit to their winery nestled in the Uco Valley of Mendoza, Argentina.  They escaped the cold March temperatures in Canada for the warm harvest wind of South America.

The tour started in Santiago de Chile. Everyone streamed in on their own time to our lovely Plaza San Francisco Hotel in the downtown district.  Some had visited Peru, others Patagonia and some had opted for the wine tour of the Maipo Valley before coming together for a cocktail reception at the hotel that evening.  Yes, name tags were in order!  Although we all had one common interest – our Zorzal wine, many of us had never met before. The Zorzal group started in 2008 and recently new shareholders were welcomed to the Zorzal family, my sister and I amongst the lucky ones. 
Natascha arranged a private bus to take us to Vina del Mar to dip our toes in the Pacific Ocean and visit the colourful port of Valparaiso, the shipping point for our Zorzal Wine. We had a small window of time to take a boat tour of the harbour, but somehow the Chileanos just couldn’t get their act together to make it happen. 

Heading back to Santiago we stopped at the House of Gruppo Belin where we were thrilled to find a full slate of Zorzal Wines for sale.  Our Canadian flag welcomed us as we enjoyed a sparkling wine and an afternoon asado of roasted pig and an array of Chilean dishes and wines. 

Our private bus over the Andes was an adventure!  Once we navigated the 36 switchbacks through the Portillo Ski Resort we all scattered like marbles at the base of Aconcagua, the highest mountain in the Andes.  The gods were with us as the skies cleared to give us a perfect view of the massive glacier.  Everyone enjoyed the chance to stretch the legs.  With all our paperwork in order we nervously crossed the Argentine border and then the pressure was released as the corks started popping.  Included are a couple of mountain photos just in case some of you missed the scenery!

Once in Mendoza we nestled into our winery accommodations in Luyan de Cuyo and enjoyed a gourmet dinner at the Terruno Restaurant of Club Tapiz.Marco Toriano, a long time friend of Natascha and Corinne’s shared his passion for Argentine wines and particularly wines from the Uco Valley.  Now we know why are wines are so special as this valley has its own particular microclimate. Marco came with us to the Bodega Tapiz Winery where Carolina enchanted us with her knowledge of the unique wines of Mendoza.

Soon we were off to the Mareina Winery where the Bianco family shared the award winning Bonardas and Malbecs with complimenting dishes from the kitchen. A tango couple provided some dramatic entertainment, until Jane was invited to dance. It ended up to be  a comedy when we watched the footage that her best friend Marnie had taken of the spectacle.

Friday was the day at our winery – at last!  The weather was not looking so good as storm clouds and rain followed us along the Ruta 40 an hour south of Luyan de Cuyo.  But  the Uco Valley has its own weather pattern and we enjoyed the afternoon at the winery in full sunshine! We were thrilled to meet the Michilini Brothers, our famous winemakers!  They proudly showed off their innovative “ eggs” 10 of them in fact, before involving us in the de- stemming of the harvested grapes. We were happy to have their families join us for the afternoon asado on our property. A modest bodega, a few vines planted and lots of work to be done, but it is ours and it was a thrilling visit. 

To finish up the day some golfed (if you can call best ball golfing) at Tupungato Winelands, some just sat around in the warm sun with a glass of wine in hand and we eventually made our way to the Mendoza Park Hyatt Hotel for the night.
Our final day in Mendoza was relaxing, some shopping, some museum visits and many goodbyes.  We finished up our excess wine (if there is such a thing) at the farewell reception. The next day everyone went their separate ways.  A few couples visited fabulous Iguazu Falls, others joined Natascha and I for a Tango experience in Buenos Aires! 

When we were in a little wine shop in Buenos Aires most of the Zorzal wines were available.          We were told by the sommelier that the Michelini Brothers were the best and most innovative winemakers in Argentina and we are lucky to have them on our team!
The do us proud – look at the Robert Parker scores!!!
 2008    Zorzal Wines Climax Malbec                         89    
 2013    Zorzal Wines Eggo Blanc                              91  
 2013    Zorzal Wines Eggo Filosofo Pinot Noir          93    
 2012    Zorzal Wines Eggo Tinto                               94  
 2012    Zorzal Wines Field Blend                              92  
 2012    Zorzal Wines Gran Terroir Malbec                89
 2012    Zorzal Wines Gran Terroir Pinot Noir            92    
 2011    Zorzal Wines Piantao                                    91  
 2013    Zorzal Wines Terroir Unico Malbec               92    
 2012    Zorzal Wines Terroir Unico Pinot Noir           91  

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