It was the lure of the exotic that brought Amanda Barnes – a journalist and writer from Hampshire, England – to South America. Surprisingly it wasn’t until she arrived in Argentina that she discovered a passion for wine and food, and was particularly seduced by the Mendoza region. As she discovered Chile and other parts of the continent, she carved a niche in writing about food, wine and travel in Latin America. Now she is embarking on a journey of truly epic proportions, attempting to visit 42 wine-producing countries during their vintages in the space of two years. Every step will be chronicled and communicated extensively, with the idea of subscribers joining the odyssey through a number of different media. On this episode of The Vincast Amanda talks about how she became such an authority of the wines of South America, and how she conceived of this ambitious concept to travel Around the World in 80 Harvests.
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Currently I’m sitting at my gate at Melbourne airport waiting to board my flight to Singapore. After a few nights in Singapore soaking up the atmosphere and catching up with some friends, it’s on to Milan, from which I’ll make a 17 day round-trip visiting producers in the northern regions of Italy.
It’s been 15 months since my last international flight, 16 months since visiting my first overseas vineyard, and over two years since my first visit to wineries in Italy. If you know anything about me or have read any of my writing from my big tour, you’ll know how much I adore Italy, its people, its food and most of all, its wine.
In fact I love Italian wine so much that since September 2013 I have been working for an importer of some of the most interesting wines from all around Italy. Naturally (pun-intended, the company imports quite a number of low-intervention sustainably farmed ‘natural’ wines) one of the main priorities is to visit and learn all about the producers and products I’m selling to the thirsty trade.
Therefore I’m just putting it out there for reasons of journalistic integrity (cringe!) I will be writing about wineries and vineyards that relate to my job. I am however going in with almost a blank slate and an open mind, considering I have had little experience with the kinds of producers my company imports, and also with some of the regions I’ll be visiting for the first time.
Singapore beckons for some awesome street food (fingers crossed), and perhaps even a wine bar or two (toes crossed). Not really sure when and where I’ll be able to upload entries, so please be patient with me. Hopefully my writing hasn’t totally abandoned me…
One of the big problems I have with the globalisation and homogenisation of wine is that unique and traditional wines for uncomplicated consumption with food are lost. The first really different and regionally specific wine discovery I have made in Spain was made in San Sebastian the previous weekend. During a tapas bar crawl I was introduced to Txakoli (pronounced chakoli), which is a wine made on the coast only 30 kilometres west of San Sebastian on the way to Bilbao. The vineyards are planted mostly in pergola trellising systems, on the steep slopes of the coast. The wines produced are 95% white wine with a slight spritz to it, as a small secondary fermentation happens in the bottle. To encourage the bubbles when it is poured it is done from some height, something I had seen in San Sebastian. The high acids and slight fruit residual sugar matches beuatifully with fresh salty pinchos. I’m not sure it would taste the same if drinking it anywhere else, but I was intrigued to find out more. Carlos from Artadi very kindly set me up with an appointment at the most important Txakoli producer in Getaria.
|In case you forget which way the Atlantic Ocean is