A Travellerspoint blog

Mendoza malbec and more

sunny 80 °F
View A Rough Outline of our Trip on daveliz's travel map.

large_IMG_6588-6.jpg

MENDOZA

Mendoza, Argentina, was an area we looked forward to the entire year. We were supposed to start off our honeymoon in the romantic setting of vineyards and mountains back in November 2008, but a border strike prevented us from getting there. We finally rolled into Mendoza in December 2009 on yet another overnight bus (that is five in the last few weeks!) Mendoza is a beautiful, relaxed city with lots of parks, plazas and tree lined streets, but we set our expectations too high on the grape scene. The wine was fantastic, but we had a vision of peaceful vineyards and quaint villages sitting at the foothills of the snow capped Andes mountains, similar to regions we experienced in New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and in the States. Rather, the villages were not that well kept and the vineyards were on fairly busy streets with unwelcoming security gates.

large_IMG_6660-21.jpg

Mendoza city has two main areas for vineyards, Chacras de Coria and the more well known Maipu region, which was the first in the nation and we believe started by a Chilean. Mendoza is one of the top five largest wine regions in the world, the largest in Argentina producing 70% of the country's wines. The area is best known for its red wines, especially malbec, as the climate for growing ripe fruit is excellent with dry, hot summers and cool winters.

This vineyard wasn't open to the public, but we enjoyed the view!

This vineyard wasn't open to the public, but we enjoyed the view!


large_IMG_6659-20.jpg

We toured the Chacras de Coria region by bike, making stops at Bodegas Alta Vista, Lagarde and Clos de  Chacras. The most picturesque vineyard we visited was Alta Vista. It also had the best wines we tasted that day.

We toured the Chacras de Coria region by bike, making stops at Bodegas Alta Vista, Lagarde and Clos de Chacras. The most picturesque vineyard we visited was Alta Vista. It also had the best wines we tasted that day.


These stainless steel tanks hold the cheaper and younger red wines, white wines and champaign for fermenting. Alta Vista uses huge cement tanks for the higher quality wines, because that allows for better temperature control.

These stainless steel tanks hold the cheaper and younger red wines, white wines and champaign for fermenting. Alta Vista uses huge cement tanks for the higher quality wines, because that allows for better temperature control.


The higher quality and more complex red wines age in these French and American oak barrels for six to 36 months. This process is the second fermentation period taking place after the wine has been sitting in the cement tanks.

The higher quality and more complex red wines age in these French and American oak barrels for six to 36 months. This process is the second fermentation period taking place after the wine has been sitting in the cement tanks.


The Alta Vista tasting room used to be one of the old cement tanks. The small window in the lower right displayed the three foot thickness of the wall. The floor and doors are made from parts of an old, giant oak barrel.

The Alta Vista tasting room used to be one of the old cement tanks. The small window in the lower right displayed the three foot thickness of the wall. The floor and doors are made from parts of an old, giant oak barrel.


Dave likes the torrontes best, a white wine unique to Argentina, with malbec coming in a close second.

Dave likes the torrontes best, a white wine unique to Argentina, with malbec coming in a close second.


We loved seeing the old cars en route.

Although drivers in Argentina have embraced new cars, they haven't forgotten about some old goodies. You see old Fords, Peugeots, Renaults and Citroens everywhere, probably very reminiscent of Cuba.

Although drivers in Argentina have embraced new cars, they haven't forgotten about some old goodies. You see old Fords, Peugeots, Renaults and Citroens everywhere, probably very reminiscent of Cuba.


large_IMG_6636-14.jpg

large_IMG_6635-13.jpg

large_IMG_6634-12.jpg

Mendoza city itself is quite vibrant.

Families gather on weekend days at Parque de San Martin.

Families gather on weekend days at Parque de San Martin.


At night, Mendoza is hopping with bar-lined streets. We tried our best to go out to dance, but with the start time of 1 a.m., us old farts were in bed. We were awake enough to grab a drink beforehand on Av. Aristides Villanueva

At night, Mendoza is hopping with bar-lined streets. We tried our best to go out to dance, but with the start time of 1 a.m., us old farts were in bed. We were awake enough to grab a drink beforehand on Av. Aristides Villanueva


Mendoza is also the nearest city to Aconcagua, which is is the highest mountain in the western hemisphere. Fortunately, Dave had no desire to do the 15 day hike to the top. Perhaps the thought of his complaining wife next to him gravitated him towards another glass of wine instead!

SAN RAFAEL

Before going to Mendoza city, we visited San Rafael, which is in the south of the Mendoza province and also known for its wine, fruit and olive trees. We visited Bodegas Valentin Bianchi, Suter and La Abeja. Argentinians rave about Bianchi and it was the best of the three.

Valentin Bianchi´s wine cellar was huge. It stores thousands of bottles of wine.

Valentin Bianchi´s wine cellar was huge. It stores thousands of bottles of wine.


large_IMG_6577-3.jpg

We tasted homemade marmalade from one of many shops outside a fruit farm.

We tasted homemade marmalade from one of many shops outside a fruit farm.


SAN RAFAEL is also known for the Cañón del Atuel and the El Nihuil Dam. The canyon is about 60 km long and made from a variety of rock types and formations. Unfortunately we don't have the best photos, because we went on one of the worst tours ever. . . only stopping at the hydroelectric plants and not sights of nature's beauty. At the end of the tour we had a really bad wine tasting too :(

The colorful walls of Cañon del Atuel.

The colorful walls of Cañon del Atuel.


Thankfully we did stop at the Valle Grande reservoir, which was pretty exquisite with its turquoise water and mountainous surroundings.

Thankfully we did stop at the Valle Grande reservoir, which was pretty exquisite with its turquoise water and mountainous surroundings.


This street sign in San Rafael marks where it all began. We bought our around the world flight ticket in Buenos Aires, and stop number one was Chile.

This street sign in San Rafael marks where it all began. We bought our around the world flight ticket in Buenos Aires, and stop number one was Chile.


Before getting on an overnight bus to Santiago, Chile, we spent a few hours on our last day in Argentina at the Termas Cacheuta, a thermal water park just outside of Mendoza. The natural, warm and bubbly springs promised to give us a bit of relaxation before returning home. Unfortunately, the million and one children running around had something else in mind.

IMG_6717.jpg

Twenty six countries later we have returned to Santiago, Chile, where we began our trip. We have come full circle before returning home to Boston.

- Elizabeth and Dave

Posted by daveliz 12:26 Archived in Argentina

Email this entryFacebookStumbleUponRedditDel.icio.usIloho

Table of contents

Comments

Wonderful journey. Congratulations for a great blog (you need to write a book). We enjoyed it all. What are you going to do in 2010?

by Ellen & Pat

Thank you for the glorious ride!

As Miriam Beard said, "Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living."

See you soon,

OOXX...Mom/Edie

by Edie Greenstein

fun stories... you may find this article interesting:

The Tribulations of Exporting Argentine Wine
http://www.alternativelatininvestor.com/wine2.php

by mary

Comments on this blog entry are now closed to non-Travellerspoint members. You can still leave a comment if you are a member of Travellerspoint.

Enter your Travellerspoint login details below

( What's this? )

If you aren't a member of Travellerspoint yet, you can join for free.

Join Travellerspoint