The last two weeks were a true adventure. Sam and I took our long awaited honeymoon to Argentina and Chile. It helps that we are both lovers of wine and amazing food because Buenos Aires and Mendoza, Argentina truly shine at both. If it weren’t still somewhat overshadowed by corruption and poverty Mendoza’s wine regions of Maipu and Uco Valley, Napa would be off the map. Fortunately for Napa (and somewhat unfortunately for us) Argentina despite having a reputation of being a safer South American country is still suffering in some places. Buenos Aires seemed to be an oasis from this. Although this post is about Mendoza.
Perhaps to be fair, I should clarify that one of our best experiences was riding bikes to the smaller wineries, the ones it will be hard (if not impossible) to find bottles from here in the US. These more subtle and modest bodega’s did not require a reservation which if you’ve ever tried to navigate on South American roads is a very good thing. Just hope on your bike and go. Letting luck guide us down the correct side of the fork in the road, we found and tried some of the best wines of our lives.
We traveled the red line. Our hotel was the #13 on there. Almost every stop ended in wine purchased because they were that good.
So if you ever see these wines in the US, grab a bottle and maybe one for us if your feeling generous.
#12 – first stop, Bodega Carinae – Carinae Winery, small 100 year old winery (across the street from #11, an olive oil farm)
#7 – second stop, Bodega Tempus Alba – Tempus Alba Winery, had a lunch reservartion here so had to ride to the top and work our way back. This was a great idea. Tempus Alba had VERY generous pours for the tasting and the much needed food to keep us somewhat sober was sublime (as was the view). Bought a Merlot, yup, a Merlot!
#8 – third stop, Bodega Viña el Cerno – Viña el Cerno Winery, a bit more touristy but the only place besides Martel & Co in Reims that had hand turned bottles of sparkling wine.
#9 - Bodega Familia Di Tomasso – Di Tomasso Family Winery, another older vineyard, although they don’t do tastings of it (or sell it by the glass) this Italian family makes their own Limoncello.
#10 – last stop, Bodega Vistandes – Vistandes Winery, ran in just before closing and bought bottles of both wines we tried. The Torrontes was a perfect example of what the grape is meant to do, sweet and fruity on the nose and crisp on the tongue. The Malbec was equally impressive, we couldn’t resist and drank both these bottles on our trip our in Ritoque.
The shady side of the Mendoza region should have been a common sense realization. Mendoza is still country, which many wealthy tourists have recently started traveling to. There are still a lot of people who do not have much or anything at all. Usually we found those people to be kind and actually somewhat wary of us. It was the industry that makes you a target. The wine tourism industry. Although some of the bigger issues we had with corrupt cops, greedy entrepreneurs, and often being made to feel like we were not worth much to people, we would still be happy to go back. Just with a little less Uco Valley and a little more Maipu (but not at the Aguamiel Hotel, maybe Club Taipaz instead). Trying to do the big things worked for the photography that I had to shoot to submit to the Wine Spectator Magazine but it was not the place to spend much time doing anything else.
So although I should have started with images from Buenos Aires, these are the shots that I went to get (although some played with to be fun) so we start in Mendoza. Enjoy the pictures!
All images © Kate Benson Photography INC, 2011