The sun is hot, there are mountains in the distance, and there is white wine shampoo in the hotel bathroom. Every terrace with a little shade feels like a vacation.
We drive several hours into the Valle de Uco to visit the vineyards Salentein and O. Fournier. On the way, I fall asleep and only occasionally open my eyes, so my impressions of the drive are simple: rows of sun-baked vines on dusty earth, blue shadows of mountains far off, and jazz music.
Another day, we drive about forty-five minutes to the Alta Vista vineyard. Gwen, a tiny redhead from New Jersey, shows us the cellars and pours us four wines to taste: the Premium Torrontes 2010, the Atemporal Blend 2007, the Terroir Selection Malbec 2007, and the Single Vineyard Temis Malbec 2007. Gwen tells us that the Torrontes is known as the liar: "Sweet in your nose, dry in your mouth." I taste pear.
The single vinyard wines are elegant and we buy the Temis and the Serenade, along with several bars of Salgado chocolate. My pick is the Esmeraldas, a dark chocolate from Ecuador with 70% cacao. We walk under the portico and down the lavender-lined path, stopping to steal a few grapes.
Back in the car, I open the chocolate, breaking off small pieces. For Alta Vista and for Salgado, it's all about terroir. The philosophy of terroir holds that everything unique about one place - climate, soil, topography - is reflected in the product.
And I have to agree: Place makes a difference. I taste the tannins of the Temis and creamy, dark chocolate.