A delayed Day 2 blog from Chris's South America trip, which technically is Day 1 as they've only just arrived in Chile...
Sunday morning and the Insignificant Seven are in somewhat better spirits. Our unscheduled 36 hours in Madrid provided ample opportunity to bury ourselves in a cultural tour of the city’s heritage, taking in churches, museums, palaces, more churches, civic buildings, still more churches ( I mean honestly, how many churches does one city need?) and a bar……..and a restaurant…… and another really good craft beer bar (Kalla Beer factory) ….. and Kuoco 360 Restaurant, recommended to us by the bar, which was just amazingly good and not outrageously pricey and we love with a passion that is hard to express but, in all seriousness, I think we would all suggest that you arrive without having spent 2 hours in the very wonderful Kalla Beer factory.
Friday morning dawned a little earlier than we should all have wished (about 2 days earlier after the excesses of Thursday evening) and the airport and Santiago beckoned. Everything was fine if a little blurry as we boarded another Iberia flight (you already know where this is heading don’t you?) for the 13 hour flight to South America. Little to be said about the flight aside from JJ engineering a seat switch which left me in the company of a troubled 18 month old and his parents – fortunately Toy Story on repeat seemed to provide some sort of panacea as yours truly caught up on 6 months worth of viewing pleasure. (For the record, Can You Ever Forgive Me – 7/10, Black Klansman- 9/10, Johnny English (forgive me, I was fading at this point) 6/10, it did contain some comedy gems, The Favourite - 8/10, Bohemian Rhapsody – 7/10, A Private War – 6/10).
10.00 p.m. landed in Santiago as did the luggage of 4 of the party. You can guess the rest – as I write on Sunday evening, 3 of our number remain bagless and are rapidly losing confidence in the words of comfort offered by a team in Madrid whose competence levels are somewhere below zero on the Chris Grayling scale.
Vineyard visits to our Chilean hosts had already been kicked into the long grass by our extended stay in Spain so a last minute tasting was scheduled in the somewhat less spectacular environment of Vina Requingua’s Santiago office. Requingua’s European export manager Nicolas and Bouchon Family Winery’s in-house sommelier Natalia provided a formidable double act, taking us through a combined range of some 30 wines whilst multi-tasking on the phone to Iberia’s hapless baggage handlers, before we headed back to Santiago airport for the shuttle to Mendoza.
Personal highlights from the tasting included from Requingua a wonderfully drinkable, off-dry Moscato, the really delicious Toro de Piedra Carignan and the fabulous Patria Nueva Chardonnay whilst Bouchon pulled out the stops with the stunning Block Series Malbec, the eminently toothsome Canto Norte and the jaw-droppingly wonderful pair of Granito Semillon and Carmenere/Cabernet blend.
And then Argentina beckoned…..
More updates from Chris- now into the 5th day of the trip, but actually only the third in South America- having lost the 2 days in Chile, it's time to head to Argentina and finally a chance to acquire more socks...
Whilst his fear of flying was causing Michael, the young Armagh medic sat next to me on the plane over the Andes to come out in a cold sweat, I couldn’t help but drink in the most astonishing views during one of the shortest but most spectacular flights in the world