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Sultry Tango and Saucy Malbec

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Tango dancers in San Telmo market.
We kicked off our Wines and Adventures tour of Argentina at the La Cava wine tasting room just a few blocks up from our hotel for a tasting of three distinct Argentine wines with an excellent presentation by a young well-informed sommelier highlighting the four principal wine producing regions of the country: 1) the North in the province of Salta, 2) Patagonia, 3) the Cuyo region (northern valley of Mendoza) and 4) the Uco Valley (south of Mendoza). We looked at the big picture of geography, geology and the corresponding influence of climate, especially how the Andes blocks moisture coming from the Pacific across Chile that creates the dry and harsh conditions combined with infertile soils creating ideal wine producing conditions. I can tell already instead of birding list, on this trip we’re going to need a wine tasting list, and Ruth is going to do her best to keep track as we travel from Buenos Aires to Mendoza and Salta. 
We enjoyed great tango music on the street and in a club.


Our first late night in the city we sauntered up the street from our hotel in the historic San Telmo district to see the La Querandi tango show. It’s a small theatre setting presenting a retrospective of the sultry dance that started in the 1880’s among lower-class immigrant men who cavorted waitresses and prostitutes in cafes and bordellos. The troupe of tangueros changed their outfits throughout the night depicting the evolution of tango. What made this show more authentic than most was the live performance of classical male and female singers accompanied by highly accomplished musicians including a lead piano player from a famous lineage of tango performers.  
We stay in San Telmo at the start of our Argentina tour because we can meet up with our local city guide Alejandra at the Moreno Hotel for a 2 hour walk starting at the Plaza de Mayo. This is ground zero for the city’s protests so the colorful graffiti calling for benefits of the veterans of the Falkland War, and brightly painted headscarves of the ‘mothers of the disappeared’ gives us a chance to talk about Argentina’s history from independence to social justice.  

Tapas and wine on our tour of Buenos Aires
We walk through the Montserrat neighborhood and up the cobblestone streets into the heart of Sal Telmo, one of the city’s most charming historic districts. Alejandra took us up side streets to observe all the architectural styles from throughout the centuries, especially the historically rich barrio with beautifully preserved colonial mansions and spectacular graffiti. Then we were set free to walk up Defensa Street which is closed to vehicles for the Sunday San Telmo market filled with musicians, tango dancers and artisan stands full of original handcrafts and colorful antiques. We all found our way to Sagardi, a lively restaurant displaying luscious Basque-style tapas complimented by an endless list of Argentine wines.
 
Keeping it wild,
 
Kurt Kutay
 
Learn more about travel to Argentina
 

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