There are places you wait to go on your travels and Mendoza was one of them. Red wine, more specifically the Malbec was the enticing factor. The surrounding area of Mendoza does offer more than wine, hiking (including Aconcagua the highest peak in South America - just below 7000m) , water rafting and horse riding. Our focus though was on the vino tints and to try lots of it.
The original plan was to hire bikes to cycle to the numerous vineyards within the region. This plan changed when we arrived tired at 5.30am to Mendoza from an overnight bus journey that included a border crossing at 2am. Let's say we were not on our best form once there. This resulted in us taking the easy option of a tour arranged through our Hostel Lagares visiting two Vineyards in the Maipú region.
The first was Vistandes, a relatively new and modern vineyard opened in 2006. We were taken through the usual procedure of how the wine was produced followed by the best bit tastings. To our surprise our favourite wine here ended up not being a Malbec but a white Torrontes. Due to weather conditions, this is typically produced in the North of Argentina but they have. managed to grow this grape in the right conditions (close to the mountains) where the climate is cooler. We walked away with a bottle in hand.
The second vineyard, our favourite was Domiciano. An established vineyard started in 1919. Aiming to keep the traditions of their ancestors, they produce high class wines at an affordable price. The knowledge of the guide here was top notch, which included explaining they harvest the grapes at night time to ensure the grapes are cool for a more concentrated flavour. We tried the reserve Malbec and it was a thumbs up from us.
The tour we took also involved an obligatory stop at an olive oil factory, I've never seen Rory look so bored. As I mentioned we had one reason to be there and olive oil definitely wasn't it.
The next day feeling more refreshed, we thought we'd give the bikes a go but the weather was not on our side and it poured with rain. We were told there were only a few days of rain a year in Mendoza, lucky us! The only thing to do was find a wine bar for the rest of the day. We got another couple involved, Helene and Kevin and all kitted out in our rain macs we made our way to Vines of Mendoza (definitely worth visiting!). We got there and hit the sanctuary. It was happy hour! We were offered to try a few top-notch bottles, great to try but on a backpackers budget we had to force ourselves to say no to the full bottle.
3 bottles of good wine later we were all feeling merry. The bottles we tried included:
- Laborum Torrontes de Otono (tardio) 2012
- Mendel Malbec Mendoza 2012
-Las Perdices Reserva Don Juan Malbec blend 2011
We also grabbed one for the road to take back to our hostel. We rounded the night with takeaway pizza before we headed for our overnight bus to Cordoba. Worst bus journey ever. Hangover on a crankey bus falling apart that smelt about 50 years old. Fun times in Argentina!