Wines of Argentina and Chile - Los Andes, 2013 Tuesday March 19


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South America » Chile
March 19th 2013
Published: September 3rd 2014
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MedialunaMedialunaMedialuna

Community rodeo at Clara Ranch
All the beauty of yesterday was severely interrupted at 5:15 this morning by the sudden onslaught of traveller’s diarrhea. Deciding between then and 8:00 breakfast time that it was not caused by an excess of vine-ripened grapes (probably caused by what was on the unwashed grapes), I took Cipro antibiotic. That was immediately effective, and I ate a modest fruit-free breakfast.

Our first event today was a glimpse of Chilean rodeo on a small ranch. Pablo emphasized that rodeo in Chile is not a big professional competition as in the US, but rather a community activity still strongly based on ranching traditions. We walked a short way to overlook a “medialuna”, the rodeo ground roughly shaped as half a circle. Two huaso (we call them cowboys but never in Chile) entered the medialuna dressed in flat hats, straight short ponchos, leather chaps from ankle to knee, and spurs with a 4” radius circle of dull spikes, and riding sturdy, stocky horses.

They demonstrated their sport of cattle penning: the huaso kept on either side of a steer, drove it around the edge of the medialuna and stopped at a particular spot. This required the inner horse to move sideways, which
HuasoHuasoHuaso

The classical working man of Chilean ranches
it could do at a fast pace. Then the senior huaso demonstrated the agility of his horse by doing a row of figure-eights. Suddenly, as he was showing us the components of his riding gear, I felt quite faint. I left the group to sit in the shade on the veranda of the hacienda, recovering by sipping water, enjoying the rural scene. View rodeo demonstration.

Next on the itinerary was von Siebenthal, an ultra modern boutique winery. It is one of the most southern in the Central Valley, benefiting from cool breezes from the Humboldt Current offshore, which means the grapes ripen slowly and sweetly. We stood for some considerable time, listening to Solé’s detailed explanations and Pablo’s perforce shorter translations. It transpired that Solé is Mrs von Siebenthal. Eventually Mr van Siebenthal did come out to greet us - we had been warned that the production was it its height and that no one had much time to socialize.

What I have gained from these discourses by the many winemakers on our tour is a little more understanding of the science of wine and a lot more appreciation of the soul and artistry of the creation: why there are
Vina von SiebenthalVina von SiebenthalVina von Siebenthal

Ahhhh! Decadent lunch al fresco
so many good wines and why some cost much more than others. Many of the Chilean wines require labour-intensive cultivation, care, harvesting and handling.

When we went into the production plant they were actually packing table grapes, so we got to see exactly how grapes end up in our grocery stores in the plastic un-zipped zip-top bags. All the bags of grapes are individually hand-filled from a conveyor and placed in long, flat boxes that are carried by hand to stacks on pallets. View grape packing.

Our lunch table was set out on the terrace, complete with starched cloths and napkins. We reveled in drinking their top line of wines in the temperate outdoors. In the distance the Andes shone with snow on dark crags.

An extra note on the views from the bus: As we drive from place to place, it is interesting to watch life in the towns and countryside. Noticeable is the variation in housing. New low-rise condo-type developments are popular here, in contrast to the other places we have been. Two-storey small rows of about five townhouses face each other across a courtyard. These are newer than the fairly common standalone houses that
Squawk!!Squawk!!Squawk!!

A traditional horn that proves any sound can be considered music with the right attitude.
may be four rooms inside, with an offset roof peak, each with a small front garden and fence, often wrought-iron. Long adobe fences are often painted on the street side with either representative art or political ads or statements. In the Los Andes town centre are lots of adjoining small stores, predominantly selling clothing, food or electronics and technology. On the outskirts are big-box stores, although mostly different brands than ours In the fields are vineyards of course, and fruit orchards of peaches, apples, etc. Some fields are covered with tarps holding grapes drying into raisins. Every day is hazy from dust because it is truly dry in Chile.

Back at the hotel, we had free time to enjoy the resort. I took an hour’s nap before going to the thermal pool. (The large outdoor swimming pool was closed – no lifeguard.) The temperature was like a warm bath – probably very salty because floating on my back was without effort. A fair number of people were in the pool, most well into middle-age. When I drifted towards the massage waterfalls, a couple invited me to take their place. It was the hardest water massage ever! And it felt
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This is what cacti look like in their natural environment.
wonderful! Intending to leave, I actually spent a while more sitting in the hot tub, which had vents for foot massage – again, quite hard.

There was just enough time for me to be late for a presentation on Chilean music. A four-piece group led by Marcelino Valdenegro demonstrated the history of Chilean folk music, as narrated by Pablo. From the north comes the Andean music we recognize from pan flutes. From the southern peninsula came strange instruments such as a circular horn with a squawk that can hardly be described as musical at all. When it came to dances, Pablo illustrated ably, enticing myself and then Kathy to be his partners. View Veldenegro group performing.


Additional photos below
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Raisins dryingRaisins drying
Raisins drying

Fuzzy photo from the bus. Only time we saw this.
Algarrobo Algarrobo
Algarrobo

A beautiful tree native to Chile
HuasoHuaso
Huaso

So cool!
Pablo and the expensive stuff!Pablo and the expensive stuff!
Pablo and the expensive stuff!

The great customers buy these boxes of the best from the von Siebenthal winery.
 Valdenegro Group Valdenegro Group
Valdenegro Group

Chilean songs old and new, from north to south
Medicine Woman's drumMedicine Woman's drum
Medicine Woman's drum

Symbols of the universe


5th September 2014

Squawk, indeed
Yikes. A distinctive sound, certainly, if not entirely musical to the unaccustomed ear. It's interesting how different traditional music sounds - from other traditional music, I mean. No one could mistake South American music for music from anywhere else in the world! As the group leader played the pipes, I wondered whether there are different tones achievable with different woods - and whether there are Stradivarius equivalents (or something like that) in those traditional instruments.
10th September 2014

Squawk!
Travel tends to persuade me that all cultures are sophisticated, if only we had the time to learn enough.

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