On Saturday we arrived in Mendoza at around 8am, and not knowing it was a Chilean bank holiday, we found that most of the hostels were full! So we had to settle for a more expensive room, a double room that was double the price we'd normally pay but was so nice to have our own space and not have to worry about locking up our stuff! On Saturday and Sunday we found that the vineyards were closed, so we spent those days exploring Mendoza and found some beautiful parks with backdrops of the Andes mountains. The town itself was very pretty but although there was not that much to do, we had to stay until monday to see the vineyards. And we're so glad we did! We started out at 9am on Monday, and instead of an organised tour we decided to go it alone and get the local bus to the area where the vineyards were (this cost us half the price too!). We have to admit though that this way would be almost impossible to do without a little spanish understanding. The 1st vineyard we visited was Carmello Patti, one of the oldest and very few that does not use any modern technology. There were no signs on the doors, we just knew where it was because we happened to ask a local. We went around the back of the building and an old man greeted us with open arms. First we sampled 3 red wines, and we admitted that it was our first time trying wine like this so he gave us some tips. He said to always store wine horizontally, as you if you find that the red wine leaks slightly into the side of the cork like a vein, then you know to drink it straight away otherwise it will become oxidised. If there is no leakage, you should keep the bottle for half of the storage time it says on the bottle (usually no more than 25 years)as this is the time the wine will taste its best. After this, the taste will decline. Good red wines should always be decantered for 45 minutes. Once in the glass, if you hold it against a white surface (we were given white boards) then you can see the intensity of the colours. The darker it is and the less clear ring it has on the outside the better it is. We still have a lot to learn but it was a start! The owner then showed us his production line, including the underground barrels, where the wine is oak aged, and where he and his workers label and cork each bottle by hand. He's also the only wine producer to write the exact number of the bottle and date on each one. The 2nd vineyard, Luigi Bosca was much more commercial and sells over 5 million litres of wine per year. We bought a bottle here of one of the wines we sampled and loved, as it was a very upmarket wine and still only 4pounds!! The last vineyard we went to was called Lagarde and they showed us how they bottle Espumante, the Argentinian version of Champagne. No wonder it is so expensive! Have a look at the piccies if you want to see how they do it. All 3 producers export to the UK so we will definitely look out for them when we're home! Also, all 3 vineyards were free to tour around and sample the wines which was great!
On the bus on the way back to the hostel James wasnt too impressed with me!! He had fallen asleep (lightweight) and I was sure we had just gone past the Plaza which was near our hostel, so I woke him up and we both jumped off. We were actually a good hours walk away and had no change left for another bus! I managed to convince him the walk was good for us and on the way home we picked up some crusty bread, cheeses and pate to have with our wine when we got home!
We arrived this morning at Hostel Sammy in Santiago de Chile after another overnight bus ride. It has 2 puppies living here, free pancakes for breakfast and free bike hire, what more could we want!