Hands across the Andes

After the longest Covid lockdown in Latin America, I’m delighted to report that this weekend Chile is fully re-opening all its frontiers (Sunday 1st May).  Chile locked down with Argentina in mid-March 2020, but while my adopted country fully reopened to all visitors (apart from vaccine refuseniks) on November 1st last year, its neighbours across … Continued

Vendimia

The Wine Harvest Trail from Salta to Mendoza I have just returned from a trip to Mendoza at the very best time of year: vendimia, or harvest time, when activity in the wineries is at its busiest, full of great smells and colour. Our ten day Wine & History tour from Salta to Mendoza took the long way … Continued

(Un)holy Trinity

Holy or unholy depending on your point of view, the most important trinity in Argentina is Diego, Evita and Che. Ernesto “Che” Guevara: the Latin American revolutionary who, thanks to the film Motorcycle Diaries in 2004, many people realised for the first time was actually Argentine, not Cuban. Of Irish antecedents on his paternal grandmother’s side (Lynch), … Continued

The Holy Leaf

When you visit northwest Argentina, you may notice some people in the street have cheeks as fat as a hamster preparing for hibernation. They’re chewing coca, following an age-old ritual in the Andean region used to combat fatigue, hunger and altitude sickness. When the Spanish invaded five centuries ago, the practice was so integral to … Continued

What’s a Blue Dollar?

As we approach the end of a year in which annual inflation is expected to top 50%, it seems like a good moment to write about the blue dollar. Why do you need to know this? Because it makes your holiday in Argentina so much cheaper. In many cases, by using the blue dollar you’re … Continued

Tango and Skyschlenka

As any visitors to Argentina will discover, this is a nation of individuals with a very sweet tooth. Coke, not water or wine, is the default drink when eating out of an evening: quite how people manage to tuck into a full barbecue without a good Malbec or Tannat to ease it down still mystifies … Continued

World Malbec Day

Why is World Malbec Day on April 17th? As I’m sure you all know, Malbec is a French variety, principally grown in the Cahors region 200km east of Bordeaux, close to the Pyrenees. In the last few years, Malbec, once almost a swear word as it was such a rough variety, has had something of … Continued

Torrontes: the real emblem of Argentine wine

Torrontes is the emblematic variety of Salta province, a superb white wine with a floral bouquet and a crisp, dry finish. Its origins are mysterious and have nothing to do with the Torrontes variety from La Rioja, Spain, with which it was originally confused. DNA testing has now revealed it is a cross between two … Continued

Argentina re-opens to tourism

The Prime Minister of my home country, Boris Johnson, unwisely dubbed it “Freedom Day” when the UK liberated itself from most Covid-imposed restrictions on July 19th this year. The result was an uptick in infection rates despite mass vaccinations, and increasing hospital admissions now autumn is setting in. So it’s not Freedom Day today in Argentina, but the … Continued