Bikes and Wine

Mendoza Travel Blog

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Bikes and wines
Popping back into Argentina for a relaxing 3 days in Mendoza and wine country is definitely a good way to wind up our trip. Mendoza itself was flattened by an earthquake way back when and rebuilt with wide roads, pavements and huge plazas, making it a relaxing city to wander in. Initially it felt a bit strange to be back in Argentina - especially with the different exchange rate - but once I had some good steak inside me things were back to normal. In fact I had such a huge piece of steak - about 500g - that Sarah had to help me eat it. The shame.

Of course one of the main reasons for coming to Mendoza is to drink some good wine, so on Saturday we headed off on a bike tour of the Chacras region.
Wine tasting at Pulmari
Started at 10am, finished at 7:30pm, visited 5 wineries, cycled a fair few kilometres, drank some very good wine.

We had a real mix of wineries that we visited. First up was a small family run place specialising in organic wines that was new to the area, such that we were the very first group to be shown around. Although lacking a few aesthetic touches, the guy showing us around was very friendly and knew his stuff - looked at the concrete tanks for fermentation, the cellar, crushing machines and some random barrels of wine that were found at the site when they moved in (tasted ok surprisingly).

Number two was perhaps my favourite, although it is hard to pick. We managed to arrive early for our tour, with the 7 others nowhere to be seen, but this wasn't a problem.
Oak barrels
Carmelo Patti, who owns and runs the winery almost single handedly, was more than happy to chat away to us in Spanish while we had some tastes of his wine. Surprisingly we understood most of what he said! Found out that he's been making wine since 1971, does no marketing (all word of mouth), has 4 daughters, 2005-2007 merlot was rubbish, he stores his bottles upside down so that he can check for oxidisation, leaves the wine in the bottle for at least 3-5 years depending on the grape and much more. By the time the other cyclists showed up we felt like we'd had a tour, but waited to drink another sample and be shown around.

Onwards we headed to a 'medium sized' vineyard for lunch of pizza and wine and then the tour. Probably our least favourite tour, as we were joined by a bus load of tourists and the tastings weren't great.
Young vines
Still, they had huge oak barrels that held thousands of litres of wine which were pretty cool.

Fourth up was Alta Vista, owned by a rich Spanish family who also have vineyards in France and Hungary. Nice blend of old and new - concrete tanks for red wine, stainless steel for white. In fact everyone extolled the virtues of concrete over steel as temperature regulation is easier. Least fun job sounds like the cleaning of the tanks. At Alta Vista they told us they keep both tanks and oak barrels small to focus on quality over quantity... but they do produce 3 million bottles a year, compared to 80,000 at the smaller places. Very nice wine here, including a white wine that made Sarah's day.

Final stop, with tired legs from cycling on slightly dodgy bikes, was another small winery that was probably the prettiest we saw.
Bottles
Interestingly they have no vineyard, but instead buy grapes to make their wine. The guy giving the tour knew we had heard most of the information already so explained a bit more about the winery itself, its history and production aims for the next few years. I also found out that French oak is preferred to American (although both are used) as American oak gives its flavour to wine more quickly. Also, an oak barrel is expensive - about 1000 euros each. Just for a bit of wood.

Great day all round, caught the local bus back to Mendoza and ended up going for dinner at half 10ish - more steak :o) Sunday = day to relax, wander some other parts of the city and lie in hammocks. Busyness of Santiago to come...

Luke
bandrcarey says:
We enjoyed waking up this morning to your two new blogs.
It has proved to me the value of pre planning as you have seen and experienced such diversity with some very cool relaxing times.
Last night was the Senior Dio carol service, prize giving tomorrow, leavers service Wed and the ball and then I will be up bright eyed and bushy tailed to collect you Thursday am.
All is ready and waiting!
Hoping you will be able to get a few days down with Anna and compare the wine trails.
Lots of love, thanks for your flight details. Mum .


Posted on: Dec 06, 2009
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Bikes and wines
Bikes and wines
Wine tasting at Pulmari
Wine tasting at Pulmari
Oak barrels
Oak barrels
Young vines
Young vines
Bottles
Bottles
Mendoza
photo by: montecarlostar