Well worth the visit
14.01.2010 - 18.01.2010 35 °C
We have been busy the past few days to catch up on posts, so I’ll quickly summarize to get caught up.
After our last post, we checked out Azafran, a great little restaurant. What was neat about this place is it is actually a wine store as well as a restaurant. They state on the menu, they would rather boast about their wines in the store, rather than a list. So off we went to the wine store, to pick out a bottle. We weren’t sure what we were looking for, so Darwin suggested a whole new grape and we found Bronada. So we bought the Trapiche 2006 and sat down for dinner. They charge you $2.00 corkage and the bottle was $25.00. What a nice surprise. It’s very much like a Tempernillo, and is the second most popular grape planted in Mendoza. However, it is mostly used for blending Malbec and is just starting to stand as it’s own varietal. We thoroughly enjoyed our bottle and vowed to find more during our tastings. Turned out later we found the bottle we picked was an award winner.
We spent the next day on a great wine tour. Because all vineyards require appointments, we decided to book with a tour company instead of make reservations and drive to them on our own. Besides, this way we did not have to drink and drive. The following are the vineyards we visited.
Bodega Benegas – the oldest traditional vineyard and one we really enjoyed. The house was beautiful and we sampled Sangiovese, Syrah and a Meritage. The latter was the best of the bunch.
Terrazas de los Andes – tried Torrontes (very dry white. It’s called the liar wine because the nose is like a wonderful crisp sauvignon blanc and then you take a sip and it sucks your cheeks in. Way too dry for mouse Darwin loved it)
Ruta Malen (lunch) – this was a lovely spot for lunch (Dwayne you were right). The wines were ok, but the lunch was wonderful.
Alta Vista - We tried some Malbec, Torrontes, a rose and Cabernet Savignon. Darwin loved the 2006 Alta Vista Grand Reserve Malbec, but I did not care for it.
Back to the room and we crashed. After the long drive the day before, we needed a good sleep.
The next morning we toured around the city and headed to the outdoor mall to hunt for a sun dress, so I did not have to keep wearing black. After a long hunt, we finally found 2 cute little dresses for me. It was very hard to find a dress, as fall clothes were starting to arrive and it appears their main trend right now is the loose top worn with black or white tights. With 35+ degree temperatures, I was not interested in tights.
With some new clothes purchased (Darwin got a great pair of shoes and a fabulous polo shirt), we headed off to the Hyatt spa for the afternoon. We each had a pedicure and a massage for a very reasonable price. It was a nice place and a great way to relax for an afternoon. Back to our room (Hotel Argentina. Had to switch after one night at plaza italia) and got changed. Then headed off to The Vines.The only sampling room in the city to try some flights. We each had a flight and shared the wines. We sampled 10 wines and must admit nothing rocked our socks off. They were nice, but we have had much better.
Then we went to a great asado (bar-b-que) spot and enjoyed a fabulous meal. Darwin sampled 15 different cuts of meat, while I had a huge sirloin steak. Could only eat half of the steak. We had a great Luigi Bosca Malbec. The entire meal was $75 with wine.
Yesterday, we were up early to catch our taxi to the riding stables. These stables were about 25 minutes from town in a gated community. It was very rustic and Diego our guide was fantastic. He was definitely a local gaucho. Three girls from Germany joined us on a great ride through the desert area in the foothills of the Andes. It was a wonderful ride. My horse Charcoal was excellent and Darwin looked like he was a kid again, enjoying his surroundings. We had a 2 ½ hour ride and then Darwin and I were treated to a typical Asado. It is a bar-b-que on a large concrete pad. You light a fire in a cradle with very hard wood. Let the wood burn and as the coal chips drop onto the concrete pad, you transfer these coals with a large bent branding iron to the grille area, where our beef was waiting to be cooked. It took about ½ hour to cook our meat . We had a great tomato salad, bread, meat, wine, coke, water. According to Diego, this is how they eat every day.
It was a wonderful way to spend an afternoon.
Today was another wine tour. Javiar was our driver.He is the son of Mercedes who owns Plaza Italia. Even though we did not stay at their B&B for the entire length of our stay, they still booked all our tours and recommended fabulous restaurants. Talk about great service.
Javiar took us to the Uco Valley. This area is closer to the Andes and is not to be missed. These were fabulous vineyards with exceptional architecture. We went to :
Pulenta – a boutique vineyard that made good Savignon Blanc and their 2007 Grand Cabernet Franc was our favourite wine of Mendoza. It is a MUST to find back in Canada
Salentein – this vineyard was all about architecture and quality of wine. They show you a video before you tour the vineyard and we laughed that they definitely believe you should not bring a knife to a gun fight. They are definitely in the serious business of making wine. We only sampled their reserve collection and not their premium wines (as we had another appointment), but we both believe their premium Savignon Blanc and Pinot Noir would have been fantastic.
Andeluna – this vineyard had the best view and was our favourite sampling spot because we sat on this great couch out by the vineyard overlooking the Andes Mountains. Yes we had some great wine cellars to taste wine, but doesn’t get much better than a mountain view. The wines here were good, not great. Our favourite was their 2004 Pasionada. This is a blend that changes every year. Similar to a meritage. We will try to find this wine as well.
O.Fournier – Gord strongly suggested we check out this vineyard and we are glad we made the extra 45 minute drive to this location. We had a fabulous lunch in a vineyard that looks like the USS Enterprise. It can give Vulcan a run for it’s money. The vineyard is all about the southern cross and astronomy. The storage room (single largest room in America for wine storage) is designed so the light from above reflects a cross. we managed to get a great shot of this that we will post. Their Alpha Crux Premium Malbec was a GREAT wine. We had a bottle of this in Buenos Aires and knew we had to visit the vineyard.
Again another great day.
Getting ready to pack now and drive to Chile. Not sure where we will end up.