Of course, while in Mendoza, a wine tour is a must.
We were nicely guided by Paula who put a private tour together in no time, so fast, that we did not really know where we were going, but it all sounded good.
Paula’s husband Pablo showed up at nine in the morning to drive us around. He is very kind and served us as a perfect sparring partner for our miserable Spanish. We drove about an hour to Valle de Uco to our first appointment at the…
We entered the first bodega (wine producing company) and immediately felt like being beamed up to an episode of Star Trek on earth. A mix of Disney Land and an architect’s super design dreamland. Everything was set up to impress the visitor. We, with a group of visitors, were first seated in a movie theater to enjoy a pretty piece of marketing. We were then guided through a vast garden of vines to reach the Selantein Dome (or so) where the different levels of wines were presented at the entrance. 12 months of maturation in an oak barrel, 24 months, French or American oak, and so on. A bit technical, not very passionate. We then were allowed to glimpse down a huge hall to see numerous barrels nicely arranged around a piano and beautifully illuminated. Everything was huge, efficient, clean, and shiny. So were the tasting rooms. Not just one but three of them. We were guided to a small room, the big one is for distributors only.
But this was not Mendoza’s reality but somehow a lesson in wine marketing. So off we went for the second bodega.
Apparently one of the smallest Bodegas in the region. Rustic, simple, human and a perfect contrast to Salentein. What they told us here, about how the wine is produced was not that different from the spaceship we visited before, but here the wine was, well, wine and much less a show. And given that we were tasting for a couple of hours already, the tasting started to turn into, well, a funny kind o shining.
And then came the great experience and an excellent lunch in between the tasting at…
A super cozy stand-alone restaurant with a probably rather unique “wine bottle cemetery” at the entrance. A collection of empty bottles nicely hung up, setting the scene. Here you come to drink some nice wines from any of the producers in the region. And while waiting for lunch to be served, the owner came along with some bottles of wine saying: “I don’t know what it is. I believe it’s good stuff. Some friend brought a couple of bottles yesterday. Why don’t you try it”. And surprisingly, nothing was added to the bill for that impromptu tasting. The food was excellent and two hours later, we moved on to “La Azul”.
It was great to see two completely different bodegas and I found it reasonable not to go beyond three tasting events. Some of the wines, particularly the Malbecs, were excellent. At least the first 10 we tasted. Thereafter, I don’t remember, really.
Salud, Proscht, Kampai, 乾杯!