The first jazz festival arrives in the best vineyards of Mendoza

What do a former CNN presenter, a psychiatrist, the sommelier who owns a constellation of Buenos Aires wine bars, and the programmer of the most sophisticated music club in the Microcentro have in common? The passion for wine and jazz. Reason enough to create the UcoJazz Festival, which will bring together - on Friday, February 15 and Saturday, February 16, at sunset - the great international and local leaders of black music in an exceptional setting: the vineyards of Paraje Altamira, the cradle of premium wines in Argentina.

Says Ruseler, current Executive Director of the Argentine Association of English Culture, thatduring a backpacking trip through the Napa Valley and Sonoma we thought about how nice it would be to have, for our retirement, a house in a vineyard where we could drink wine at sunset. In 1989, on one of the trips to visit my family and friends in Argentina, we discovered a farm in Paraje Altamira that immediately captivated us with its views. Actually, it struck me down: it was a field planted with tomatoes and onions, but immediately I imagined the vineyards, the park, the house. Over time, the wine project arrived: both graduated as sommeliers in the United States, 20 hectares of Finca Alegría -his daughter's namesake- are planted with malbec and cabernet sauvignon (90% of the production is sold to the best wineries in the country) and several of their wines from limited editionSon Vidaya were honored by critic Robert Parker and the DecanterWorldWineAwards.

It is in the gardens of Finca Alegría where the two stages of the Uco Jazz Festival will be set up, where great international maestros such as Jaques Morelenbaum, Anthony Wonsey, George Garzone, Eric Wheeler, Rudy Royston, Chris Cain will perform on Valentine's Day weekend; and local references Bernardo Baraj, Mariano Loiácono and Déborah Dixon, plus emerging talents such as Nina Sessions and Julia Moscardini Quinteto.

Although the farm park -which opens its doors to the public for the first time- has a capacity for 5,000 people, the organizers decided to limit access (Friday the 15th or Saturday the 16th: $2,500 / Pass for the two days: $4,000 / for sale by to only 500 attendees per day. This scale will not only allow the musical experience to be easy going for attendees, but will also enhance the exclusivity of the high-end wine fair that will take place in parallel with the concerts.

First jazz festival arrives in the best vineyards in Mendoza

Tasting under the stars

The person in charge of the oenological line-up at UcoJazz Festival is Aldo Graziani, one of the pioneers of sommellerie in the country; founder of Aldos Vinoteca, Aldo´sWineBar and ElGaragedeAldo, as well as author of La Guía del Vino Argentino. In Paraje Altamira only high-end wines are made. It is a terroir that began to be talked about no more than 15 years ago and where unique things happen locally and internationally due to its height characteristics and its versatile soils, where there are substrates with stones, others with sand and others with silt: that versatility , which does not occur in other well-known places, translates into a palette of flavors and aromas that explains why the best labels of the great wineries are born there, explains Graziani.

In this sense, the added value of the festival stands out: only premium wines -around 15 labels- from Altamira and La Consulta will be tasted. It is a wine-growing area that is characterized by the presence of small farms, between 5 and 30 hectares, which came together, as is not the case elsewhere in the country, to work on the positioning of the Geographical Indication, Graziani points out in reference to PiPA-Productores Independent from Paraje Altamira, made up of a dozen entrepreneurial viticulturists.

Gabriel Cygielnik, Aldo Graziani, Sonia Ruseler and Humberto Persano, creators of Uco Jazz Festival, during the launch at BebopClub.

Paraje Altamira has the best wines in the country. It is logical that now it has the best jazz festival in Argentina. And, in 10 years, it will surely be among the best 10 in the world, says GabrielCygielnik, music programmer for Bebop Club de Jazz and responsible for defining the line-up of UcoJazz Festival.

We needed traditional, modern, swing, blues and bossa jazz musicians who are up to the task of wine. When Jaques Morelenbaum (Note: Legendary cellist and arranger for Tom Jobim and Caetano Veloso) confirmed his presence, we realized that we were going to fulfill our dream of holding an international-level festival. Then we had the yes of Anthony Wonsey (NO: American pianist virtuoso), who canceled a tour of Milan as soon as he saw the photos of Finca Alegría. In a week, we had a positive response from all those summoned, including the maestro Bernardo Baraj and Mariano Loiácono, two of the five best on the local scene, he details.

The artistic director of the festival also highlights that, in addition to the shows to be held on the two stages that will be set up next to the vineyards, the documentary Piazzolla, the years of the shark, will be screened for the first time in Mendoza, awarded at the Venice Festival, which includes unpublished material contributed by Pipi Piazzolla, grandson of the founder of the great innovator of Argentine tango.

Grandson of Luigi, a Piedmontese who arrived in Argentina in 1949, Humberto Persano -psychiatrist and psychoanalyst- says that he arrived in Altamira looking for "to do something to amuse myself when I retire". In 2003 he bought Finca Las Glicinas, which produces high-end wines for third parties and also produces exclusive batches under the Ciruelo and Ginger labels.

Talking with the agronomist, I remembered that my grandfather had brought vines on the ship, along with eucalyptus seeds, to reproduce a part of Italy in Morón. I started to track them down, because he had passed away in 1986 and the house had been sold. After three years, we found out that a neighbor had them. Today they are planted in Altamira: we are working on their identification, because we still do not know what variety it is, but we have already microvinified 40 liters. Next year we will have more production and we will make a wine in his tribute, he reveals, excited.

Confessed music lover -30 years ago he took saxophone lessons with maestro Baraj, the fourth musketeer of Uco Jazz Festival, sums up the spirit of this shared dream about to come true: The glamor of jazz and high-end wines from Altamira. This can not fail .