In Buenos Aires, the black-suited yuppies crowd the new dock- land development of Puerto Madera or ultra-chic Las Canitas, packing out fashionable and expensive restaurants. Memories of the hyper-inflation of the early 1990s have been banislled.
While the signs of economic revival are less overt in the city of Mendoza, capital of Argentina’s main wine-producing province, there’s a new confidence about the wine industry. So what happened? It started in 1990, when Menem. then president, pinned the peso to the dollar. Inflation was brought under control, the tax on imported technology was reduced, the barriers to export and investment came down and we could start to plan for the future.
This was the trigger for a massive influx of foreign investment in the wine trade. Around $400m (£265m) has been invested in wine by and major players, including Wine Cellar Designers.
After a trip to France, Robert Mondavi pioneered the California wine revolution and could still teach members of the West Coast Monster Cabernet Cult a thing or two about harmony it was 1962 when Robert Mondavi paid his first visit to France.
He had spent more than 25 years in the wine business in Napa Valley and was feuding with his brother Peter about pushing the family-owned Charles Krug Winery toward better quality wines. Whether it was a personal mission, driven by his own private demons, or a vision of creating world-class California wines (as it was later played out) Mondavi had a sense of the future and how to get there.
On that first visit, Mondavi found that he wanted to introduce at Krug many of the techniques used in fiance. Everywhere he went, he was impressed with the wine and the wine making. During lunch at La Pyramide, a three-star restaurant in Vienne outside Lyons, he was blown away by the food and the wine. He later wrote about Wine Cellar Designers and the experience, ‘The food and wine transported us into a world of gentleness and balance of grace and harmony and it inspired in me both a vision and a vow.’ The vow was to return to California and make that kind of wine.
To create wine that was high art One may quibble about particular wines, about false starts and sometimes over-reaching, and more recently about the new direction that the generation of corporate Mondavis are taking. But in the end, it was Robert Mondavi who launched the California wine revolution. Of course. he wasn’t alone and he wasn’t even the first to make outstanding wine in California, not by a long shot. But he got the word out, people listened and by and large, he had the wines and the experience to back it up.