By Wine Republic

It’s official, rock climbing is cool. The sport’s recent inclusion in the Tokyo Olympics means the once oddball pursuit has finally abseiled with style down to main street. Expect the World to watch agog in 2020 as human ants cling, scramble and race over colorful carbuncles with the occasional heart stopping fall. Climbing is expected to add some newcomer sparkle to Tokyo, much the same as BMX did at Beijing in 2008.

The stamp of Olympic approval was inevitable. The proliferation of indoor rock walls in gyms and sport’s centres around the World indicate just how popular the sport has become. It is all the more remarkable as the first recorded competition only took place in 1985 in Italy and the World Cup in rock climbing is only 18 years old.

Yet not all aficionados are exactly stoked about the Olympic move. They fear what was a free-wheeling, adventurous activity with no rules will now become crippled with regulation, officialdom and commercial exploitation. Part of rock climbing’s appeal is the fact it is unfettered by rules and fees. Many people might even argue it is not just a sport, more a performance art with minimalist and spiritual aspirations. One that requires monumental physical and mental strength.

So what is it exactly? Good old Wikipedia defines it as the following: “Rock climbing is an activity in which participants climb up, down or across natural rock formations or artificial rock walls. The goal is to reach the summit of a formation or the endpoint of a usually pre-defined route without falling.”

The sport has many different styles and sub-disciplines, the most famous of which is free climbing without the use of ropes. The new Olympic medal involves three categories – lead climbing, speed climbing and bouldering (relatively short heights over padded mats). It is indicative of just how much climbing has evolved with so many different facets that many criticise the Olympic definition as way to narrow and restrictive.

For example the World’s most famous rock climber Alex Honnold will not be competing. He is famous for climbing the 3000 feet cliff El Capitan in Yosemite without ropes. He argues that in comparison with the Olympics, his challenges are on a grander scale and never indoors. For him to participate in the tournament would be like putting an ultra-marathonist in a 100-meter sprint.

If anything the debate has revealed just how diverse the pastime of climbing has become. There is a World of difference between the teeth chattering endurance of climbing Aconcagua to the mental zen required on a rock face without ropes.

Yet indoor climbing will create its own stars. Argentina fared remarkably well at the recent Sport Climbing World Cup in Innsbruck, Austria. 16-year old Valentina Aguado came second in bouldering. She comes from the neighbouring province of San Luis and her talent and enthusiasm is indicative of the strong and passionate following rock climbing has in Argentina.

Mendoza makes a happy hunting ground for climbers with numerous cliff faces drawing... (Read More)

By Washington post

“All over Argentina, we are moving away from the old style, what we call the Parker style, of three things: Overripe, over-extracted and over-wooded,” said Hervé Birnie-Scott, estate director of Terrazas de los Andes, a winery established in the early 1990s by the French Moët et Chandon Champagne house. (He was referring, of course, to the influential critic Robert M. Parker Jr. More on him in a minute.)

“There are three main factors working against terroir,” José Alberto Zuccardi of Bodega Zuccardi told me the next day. “Argentina’s wines have been very ripe, very extracted, and very oaky,” he said, referring to winery techniques that increase the color and concentration of a wine. “We want the taste to come from the land, not the oak.”

I heard similar sentiments throughout my visit. Argentina is pulling away from the dominant international style of winemaking over the past two or three decades, commercially successful but increasingly criticized for creating a homogeneity of wines. By focusing on ripeness and winery techniques to extract the most color and concentration, the counterargument goes, winemakers were sculpting wines to match some universal, platonic ideal devoid of passion or originality. A merlot from here could be indistinguishable from a cabernet from there, but as long as both were dark, oaky and powerful, they’d pass muster.

This style is often blamed, unfairly in my view, on Parker, founder of the Wine Advocate magazine. If you’ve never subscribed, you’ve probably seen his ratings on the 100-point scale reprinted on ubiquitous “shelf-talker” advertisements in retail stores. Parker, dubbed the world’s most powerful critic, has favored the biggest wines, but he never forced winemakers to adopt this style — they were chasing a unicorn market of high point scores.

You may know Argentina wine for good-value Malbec up and down the price scale, and you’d be right. But many of these wines could come from anywhere. Increasingly, Argentina’s vintners are trying to produce distinctive wines that could come from no place other than Argentina. Like some of their colleagues in neighboring Chile, they aren’t reaching for some international ideal; they want you to love them for their Latin originality. To achieve this goal, they have perhaps ironically embraced a style of winemaking fashionable around the world, from Napa Valley to Bordeaux, to Chile and Virginia and Maryland, known as “precision viticulture.”

Precision viticulture involves extensive soil analysis to determine where various grape varieties perform best. On a micro scale, this means isolating small areas within vineyards. Birnie-Scott demonstrated this for me by tapping an app on his iPhone that called up a vineyard map showing the electro-conductivity of various vineyard parcels. That’s catnip for winemakers, but it’s hard to argue with the way the wines of Terrazas have combined intensity and elegance since Birnie-Scott began tinkering with the formula with the 2013 vintage.

On a macro scale, these efforts to define Mendoza’s terroir focus on alluvial areas, where melting glaciers thousands of years ago sent limestone and granite tumbling down from the Andes. Two areas are all the buzz in Mendoza: Gualtallary, about a 30-minute drive from the city at 1,450 meters altitude in the Andes foothills, and Altamira, an hour’s drive farther south and slightly higher in altitude.

In Gualtallary, I toured Catena winery’s Adrianna vineyard with Luis Reginato, Catena’s vineyard manager and a talented winemaker with his own Chaman label. Reginato showed me several soil pits dug into the vine rows. From these vines, Catena produces stunning Chardonnays called White Bones, from soils layered with fossils and limestone from an ancient river, and another called White Stones, from gravelly soils just a few vine rows away. They show complexity and depth to suggest that Argentina can produce Chardonnays to rival some of the world’s best. Catena also makes three impressively distinctive red wines from Malbec grapes grown in the same vineyard.

Farther south in Altamira, the Zuccardi family has built a futuristic winery that seems to meld into the Andes landscape. José Alberto Zuccardi, the second generation, built the family’s Santa Julia brand into a reliable source for Argentine value. Today his son, Sebastian, is exploring higher-altitude vineyards to find the clearest expression of Mendoza’s terroir. The higher the altitude, the more intense the sunlight, which helps ripen the grapes; also, the rockier the soils, giving more structure and mineral character to the wines.

Martín di Stefano, head viticulturist for Zuccardi, showed me around their vineyards in Altamira, including two soil pits just a few meters apart, one showing stones down several feet, the other mostly clay.

“When we talk of terroir, we are not talking just place, but also time,” di Stefano said, referring to the centuries it took for the melting glaciers to deposit those soils in the vineyard. Then he described today’s focus on precision viticulture and harvesting by individual vineyard lots to express that terroir in pop culture terms.

“It’s like the cover for Pink Floyd’s ‘Dark Side of the Moon,’ ” he said. “When you harvest everything together and blend them, you have the boring white light. But if you manage these differences, you see the colors of the spectrum.”

By going higher into the... (Read More)

By Great Wine Capitals

There’s one thing Mendoza really does in style, and that’s a good fiesta. Argentines know how to hold a party and in the capital of wine it is no exception. This year's Great Wine Capitals 'Best Of Wine Tourism' award winner for wine tourism services was Diplomatic Luxury Wines - a wine festival held each year in the depths of winter to bring a little warmth to wine lovers in Mendoza.

Last year, 2016, was the first year this festival was held and following this year’s equally successful event it has become a firm favourite for locals and tourists alike. Held over two days in early June, this wine event brings together some of the most luxurious wines from Argentina with hard-to-find, limited edition releases as well as the top, icon wines of each bodega.

Organised by the Diplomatic Hotel, which is located in the heart of Mendoza city centre, and two local wine journalists Federico Lancia and Gustavo Flores Bazán, the event marries together wine and food over a long weekend of celebration.

Just before the festival there are... (Read More)

By Guarda 14

Hilbing Franke Distillery o Sol de los Andes, la destilería radicada en Luján (Mendoza)  productora los Gin Hilbing y de la grapa Aniapa que se ganó la Gran Medalla de Oro a la mejor grapa del planeta, acaba de lanzar el primer Gin del mundo a base de Malbec.

El destilado es del estilo London Dry, en el cuál se han incorporado uvas pasas de Malbec junto con diversos botánicos, propios de esta sofisticada bebida. El aroma, sabor y sensibilidad son los elementos que conviven en las pinceladas de su etiqueta y el complejo oficio de destilar.

Como en todas las grandes bebidas espirituosas del mundo, en su elaboración se destaca el expertise de su Master Distiller, quien es el guía y guardián de... (Read More)

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