Visit your local grocer and you will find that the majority of Argentine wines come from Mendoza. Ergo, it was decided that the beginning of our semi-self-guided wine tour should begin here. Note that the city of Mendoza is located in the province of the same name; the later is usually what appears on the wine bottle’s label. Nevertheless, there is an abundance of wineries located in and around the city of Mendoza, conveniently accessible by bicycle.
Our first day in Mendoza we took an intracity bus to the town of Maipu. (Not to worry: a significant number of jokes and puns showcasing our immense immaturity were dolled out during this portion of the trip.) In one afternoon we were able to visit and do tastings at three “bodegas” including the traditional Familia de Tommaso vineyard which has been around since 1869, the boutiquey and trendy Mevi, and the modern Tempus Alba. We unfortunately ran out of time and missed a visit to one of the largest vineyards of a some widely distributed wines, Trapiche.
|Tempus Alba vineyards|
But this was no “pub-crawl” on wheels! On each tour we were given samples and told the distinct differences in how the grapes were turned into wine. For example, if a bottle is marked as a “reserve” wine it is what winemakers called “oaked,” meaning it was aged in a wooden barrel. By contrast, “young wines” are aged in stainless-steel barrels. In either case the wine is never aged for more than 18 months. The amount of time in the aging process and the type of container has an enormous affect on the flavor of the wine, as well as the type of grape.
While most of the grapes grown in the Mendoza region are malbecs or cabernets, there are several lesser-known varieties including the bonarda, which we were able to sample during the Mevi tour. We learned later that the Mendoza region is the highest wine-growing region in the world, which explains why different regions – France, California, Australia, Spain, etc. – are famous for different types of wines.
Back in the city of Mendoza we found a laid back city with many small plazas and one large, gorgeous park. The Parque General San Martín (a lot of stuff named after this guy, by the way) needs to get a nomination for “Best Potentially Gaudy & Overdone Landscaping in the Grecian Style That Somehow Isn’t” Award. After wandering through the city as it closed down for Christmas Eve, we ended up in this vast, over-stylized, rose-filled park and did what you do in beautiful parks: lay down and stare at the sky. The sky with the sun and the clouds that bring us delicious wine-producing grapes!
|Wandering the streets of Mendoza|
|Rob & me practicing "proper" wine-tasting etiquette at |
the historical Familia de Tommaso winery.
|Tree-lined country road outside of Maipu.|
"We are all mortal until the first kiss and the second glass of wine." ~Eduardo Galeano
|Biking through Maipu! (C'mon, you know you wanna giggle at that.)|
|Narissa & Kelsi in Parque General San Martín|