Age ain’t nothin’

Day one of a whole new age, and 34 was working out just fine.

No grey hairs. The one that had dared to rear itself on my head had been swiftly dispatched a while back, which yes, is a vanity thing, but I’m not entirely certain I want to age gracefully.

All my own teeth. This, too, was a positive sign. Apart from the two that I already knew weren’t mine, I gave all my nashers a quick poke and they felt pretty sturdy. Robust, even.

Wrinkles. Same as yesterday. No gains.

The night before, on the actual day of birth, involved a small asado up on the terrace. Perfectly cooked, excellent company, plenty of wine. And a load of Champagne.

Proceedings kicked off with a Salentein Malbec 2006. Starting with a goody is a stupid generalisation but frankly, in an hour, on my birthday, I’m not really going to care what’s going down. I had been saving this Malbec for a special occasion as I almost never spend so much on a bottle, and turning 34 seemed a solid if slightly unexciting moment to uncork it.

I picked this little honey up at the actual winery in Valle de Uco in January. I’d coughed up around 50 pesos – but for that price, I also got to browse some art at the bodega’s Killka gallery.

Although there’s a lot of history behind the estate, which goes back to the 17th century, the winery sitting at the foot of the Andes is a far call from 1817 when General San Martín led his men across the Andes to liberate Chile, which began some 30km away – Salentein is slick, sharply rectangular and plenty of white emulsion. Two small boys were lying down on their tummies, busy fishing in the winery’s pond for tadpoles and oblivious to the vineyards and history stretching out in front of them.

The theory behind the sculptures and enormous paintings is linking wine with art, but as far as I’m concerned wine goes with anything. Of course it’s an important collection of contemporary Argentine art, and refreshing also, to see something else instead of barrels, presses and machinery which are more commonly presented with gusto by comely peroxide blondes on minibus tours of Maipú wine makers. But it was a little bit odd.

Nothing odd about the birthday Malbec, though. It was juicy – like diving head first into a bowl of cherries – with substantial body. I’d taken its sister Pinot Noir to an asado a month earlier (clearly I’m rubbish at saving up wine…) and it was watery, very transparent and lacking in pretty much everything. I was actually shame-faced at how lacking it was.

That trusty Malbec didn’t let me down. But day two of a whole new age did. Got out of bed on Thursday and cricked my bloody neck.

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