Argentina is known not only for its football prowess and its beef but also increasingly for its gorgeous wines.
Mendoza, at the foothills of the Andes in the mid-West of the country, is Argentina’s famous wine producing region. Having the warm climate it does, means it’s perfect for producing wines of world-class quality.
So, one of the must-dos when in Mendoza is to go on a tour of some of the local bodegas (wineries) which can be easily arranged at your guest house.
There are about 150,000 hectares of vineyards here in this region and countless bodegas. Most of the bodegas are situated about twenty minutes out of town. It all depends on who’s running your tour as to which ones you visit but you are likely to visit a small winery and a big one so you can see the contrast as to how they operate.
On our tour, we visited firstly a big wine producer, La Rural, where we saw the wine making process – from the grapes they had just harvested sitting in crates (with a zillion wasps all over them!), to the massive steel vats they ferment the wine in, to the barrels the wine is stored in. We also visited their fabulous little museum where they had on display a whole cow skin turned upside down and suspended from wooden poles, with a wedge in the neck. They used to tread the grapes inside the cow skin then let the juice flow out through the neck! We then got to sample some of their wine – both a white and a red, at the end of the tour.
Next up, we went to a smaller family-run bodega with their lovely house in the grounds right next to the vineyards, and some friendly dogs lazing around. The wine making process is obviously much the same but here the machinery was totally different. It was all on a much smaller scale, involving many more manual processes, and all the testing was done by taste using no sensors. We also visited their gorgeous little cellars full of lovely oak barrels and with many wine bottles maturing. Then we went for a tasting of their Cabernet Sauvignon and a Malbec (Malbec is the most common grape here and the best wine to try from Argentina).
After the two bodegas, we were taken to a great liqueur maker, Tapaus. Located in a modern building with a lovely cactus garden, it had a very modern and slick operation which was in contrast to the traditional bodega we had just visited. We tried a brandy and a rosehip liqueur which were gorgeous, and they also had dulce de leche (the national obsession) liqueur – yum!
Then we went to lunch. And man what a lunch! We were taken to a restaurant and walked through a pretty garden. Then inside what looked like a shed was a massive banqueting table full of picada (which is like tapas). The table was groaning with cold meats and chorizos, olives, quails eggs, black beans, pumpkin, bread, various cheeses, apple in red wine, onions in red wine, chickpeas, tomatoes, pate – there was just absolutely tonnes of stuff! The table looked so heavenly and laden with goodies that we all just gasped and then laughed when we saw it. To boot, you could drink as much wine as you liked!
This tour is fantastic if you’re interested in wine and the wine making process, but even if you’re not – it’s worth going on just for the lunch! Now that’s what I call a tour!Write a Comment
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