Tony L’s Bin Ends – World record for tasting altitude?

A wine I love which is about to run out is The Alta Tierra Gran Reserva Syrah from the remote Elqui Valley in Northern Chile, on the front of the Atacama Desert and where most of the world’s large telescopes are based … because it’s got the clearest air in the world so the stars are super bright. So is the sun. It fries you. Coupled with the chilly night air it does wonders for grape’s fruit intensity.

Apart from the bright green vineyards watered by irrigation channels built by the Inca the place looks like an alien planet. I’ve been to strange places looking for wine but I guess this is the strangest.

I’ve unearthed this bit of film of when Giorgio Flessati and I conducted a tasting of his new vintage Syrah at over 5000 feet up the Caballo Nero Pass across from the Elqui into Argentina. Barbara, Tom and the son of a friend who was at film school were with us. But they were all groaning with altitude sickness. I was fine  because of my pacemaker is my theory and Giorgio grew up in the Dolomites. We were fine though I do seem a bit confused. However, I can be confused at any height. 

It was then driving down the Argentine side down a dirt track with no barriers and a three thousand feet drop that did for me.

Over the next few days I will write about five more wines from weird places, and offer you all six as a mixed case. Come with me … fly by wine. No airport chaos, I promise. 

About Tony Laithwaite

Tony Laithwaite, founder of Laithwaite's, whose passion for wine is still going strong!

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