Sunday, December 27, 2009


We had so many recommendations to visit this place from fellow travelers that we rearranged our itinerary a bit, adding 2 sleepless overnight bus trips and nearly 4 hours in boarder crossings.  This time I did not try kill Felix Chill and we both agree the extra miles were worth the Mendoza experience.  Mendoza is located in the western part of Argentina, in the shadow of the Andes.

Mendoza is responsible for producing over 70% of Argentina's wine.  They're famous for their Malbec which is a very difficult grape to grow in many regions of the world because it molds easily, but since Mendoza was a desert, there is very little rain, cool nights and warm days which makes this plant prosper, resulting in some tasty vino.

We took a bike tour of three wineries, one chocolate & liqueur maker, and one olive tree farm where they produce oil.  We had a fabulous day.

At the first vineyard, we were taught to taste wine properly.

1. swirl and check out the legs (known as tears in Spanish); this will tell you how full bodied the beverage is.  You can also inspect color at this stage which gives you signal of how old the wine is - darker being older and  richer
2.  stick your nose in it and take a wiff - just tells you all those things again but via smelly evidence
3.  swirl around your mouth and swallow (that drink doesn't count because it's just neutralizing the acids in your mouth).  The second swirl and swallow, you taste the wine.  

baby grapes, they do the harvest in April & May

old vats where the wine is stored in order to sort out the skins and twigs which float to the top and the sediment to the bottom, then the wine is either transfered directly to the bottle (young and less developed) or it's put into wooden crates (made of either French or American oak)

baby olives - if I remember correctly, they're also harvested around April & May

We got to sample the chocolates, liqueurs, olive oil, and about 12 different wines and were served several glasses with our delicious lunch of the best empanadas, salad, chicken, and fresh made bread (another favorite meal of the entire trip).

It was one of the best all around days during our time in South America.  Beautiful views, perfect weather, and lots of good things to eat and drink.  What else is there?

Our second day in Mendoza we had intended to visit a spa somewhere in the mountains where we would bathe in hot tubs, get massages, and mud treatments while sipping glasses of Malbec.  Somehow, there was a slight miscommunication with the front desk staff at the hostel, and instead of the spa, we ended up at the natural hot springs which also serves as a sort of local White Water Bay, complete with wave pool and lazy river.  Even though it wasn't what we were expecting, we had a relaxing day laying in the sun with our books and soaking in the various pools.  And the view couldn't be beat.

Okay, now we're really finished with Argentina, and just about with South America all together.  Boo hoo hoo!

(I'm writing this days and days later.  In England now, but will fill you in on all that business in later posts)

No comments:

Post a Comment