Welcome to the wine capital of Argentina, Mendoza! Our next segment of our 'Argentina Chapter' adventure with Exploration Journeys.
Argentina is the 5th largest wine producer globally, and Mendoza is home to over 1200 bodegas (wineries). Of course, Mendoza is the home of the world's finest Malbec.
A fun fact we love about Mendoza is that the city has one tree per person; you feel this as you explore the city centre, as the greenery surrounds you.
Day 13 - Mendoza, Argentina
Our first day starts with an early morning pickup for Uco Valley, about 60 minutes from Mendoza. Uco Valley is relatively new for a wine district, about 25 years old.
Uco Valley is at the foothill of the Andes, a relatively new wine region; due to its infancy, it has investments from the world's best and is leading with state-of-the-art equipment and intelligent and innovative approaches to winemaking.
We started with a tour with the knowledgeable Deborah, learning about the climates, elevations and winemaking process before we settled in with a tasting.
They are rich in their innovative winemaking ways, including their approach to sustainable barrels. We loved learning about the eco-friendly process they are adopting, such as the ceramic eggs, which are much more environmentally friendly than the oak wooden barrels, as they can only be used four times.
It was a private tour with another couple from Brazil, with whom we quickly became friends over the tasting. Here in Argentina, a tasting is basically a full glass, so you really enjoy the wines, and at 15% alcohol, you can feel it, too.
Our second stop was Bodega Gimenez Riili, a larger group for the wine tour and tasting, but we enjoyed chatting with everyone from different parts of the world. It consisted of a quick time, which suited us just fine as we were getting hungry at this stage (we nearly devoured the BBQ lamb as we strolled on past), followed by another tasting.
The wineries here are beautiful; most are set up for slow lunches and relaxing afternoons in the sun overlooking the vineyards, so it is an ideal destination for Wayne & Sal!
After about eight glasses, we were ready for lunch. Bodega Andeluna, our third winery, was in a beautiful setting. A table awaited us; we finally relaxed for the afternoon, enjoying divine gourmet food and more delicious wines! Argentine wines are consistently very, very good!
We enjoyed the sunshine with some new friends from Argentina, and then we were whisked back to the hotel to get some rest for the following day's tours!
Day 14 - Mendoza, Argentina
This morning, we dropped one winery to enjoy the beautiful Park Hyatt Mendoza and to start the day with coffee on the terrace; who needs wine at 9 am? Yes, that's coming from me!
After a relaxing morning, we were ready for our pickup at 10.45 am to arrive at our first winery, Belasco de Baquedano, for a tour and tasting.
Today was about exploring another region only half an hour from Mendoza. Our first winery is Spanish-influenced due to its owner. It was another beautiful winery with miles of vines! Interestingly, the wineries we visited all harvest in March, which is early autumn, providing the grapes with more growing time and higher sugar content.
Our tour took us through their winemaking process, and just before the tasting, we entered a large room designed to experience the large array of aromas that you may find in the wines; it was incredible! We have been to our fair share of wineries, and this is the first time we have experienced the joy of scents and learned about the wine culture in such a way! This aroma sensory experience is the largest in the world, and their sister winery in Spain is believed to be the only other with the same experience. We loved it!
The aromas sharpened your senses, made you question your instincts, and allowed you to store away in your memory vaults all of the scents that can be discovered in wine.
This was followed by a tasting where the girls would challenge us with the aromas of the wines and keep us guessing! We enjoyed the morning and the private tasting, chatting with the young ladies and hearing about their goals and dreams.
Our next event was a slow lunch at Bodegas Norton, now owned by Mr Swarovsk, which was the first winery to produce the famous Malbec, which an Englishman then held. We fell in love with the grounds; they were immaculate with the most incredible backdrop of the Andes.
The restaurant was exactly what we were hoping for; we quickly settled in and upgraded our lunch to the five-course tasting menu with premium wines; the team were delightful, and the food, wine and views matched. The decor and design were minimalist, the attention to detail was immaculate, the pacing of food was slow, and you were thoroughly provided with the opportunity to enjoy your lunch with wines that showcased the food. Unbeknownst to us, on arrival,l sat behind us through the enormous wooden doors, where all the grapes of the wine fermented, using the latest technology, and all the stainless steel wine vats were sitting.
It was a privilege to be offered some exclusive wines only available at the winery, even some still in the design stage; think excellent whites, being Austrian owned they are focusing on producing award-winning Austrian varieties, genuinely unique styles that will broaden the appeal of Argentinian wines. We were also privy to a cleanskin dessert wine, which was perfection. We loved chatting with the lovely, passionate sommelier Martina, who enjoyed it as much as we were.
We loved the experience, and a four-hour slow lunch was the perfect ending to our winery journey in Mendoza.
Day 15 & 16 - Mendoza, Argentina
We took the opportunity to have a few days off from exploring, catch up on work, and ensure we explored the city. Although after a short walk in the 40-degree summer heat, we opted to enjoy lunch, followed by watching the World Cup as Argentina was playing, their energy was infectious, and it was a great experience. We are even starting to like (and semi-understand) this game they call football!! (Yes, I know it's Soccer!)
Mendoza needs much more time, and when we return to Argentina, we will give it the time it deserves to fully appreciate and savour the world-class wineries and wines it deserves. It is truly a magical place!
Next up is Iguazu Falls and a taste of Brazil, another bucket list adventure in Argentina; we can't wait to share the magic of this destination soon with you all!