Mendoza is home to more than 1,500 wineries. That’s 1,500 reasons to visit, straight off the bat.
Responsible for over 70% of Argentina’s wine production, following an unprecedented wine-boom in the 19th and early 20th century, Mendoza is the place to go for world-class wines. Malbec is the star of the show, supported by a stellar cast of Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Syrah, Torrontes and Sauvignon Blanc. They are all phenomenal.
Luján de Cuyo, Valle de Uco and Maipú make up the prime areas of production – all firm favourites on the tourist trail. We made it to the first two, but time (and hangovers!) sadly prevented us from ticking off all three.
Wine-tasting, at least for me, usually turns into wine-necking, which turns into shallwehaveonemorebottleeach. You know how it is.
This time it was different. There were facts and figures, some of which were actually retained; numerous site visits from humble garages to corporate powerhouses; and tips on how to enjoy and appreciate wine to the fullest. As if I needed more persuading!
While the process itself is largely the same the world over, each of the Bodegas we visited had their own distinct style and offering. At Bogega Pulmary in Luján de Cuyo we drank Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon straight from the barrel. In Bodega Carmelo Patti, Carmelo himself welcomed us into his humble garage and shared his age-old wine storage secrets. In the vast Domaine Bousquet in Valle de Uco – producing 3.5 million litres of wine per year – I was lucky enough to sample the best Malbec Reserve I have ever tasted.
For us, it was Andeluna of the Valle de Uco that stole the show. Andeluna shared a series of crisp whites, a delicious pink and a full-bodied Malbec to top it all off. The best bit was the little jars of fruit and spices they provided to aid the identification of the wines aromas. From apple to cherry, apricot to cloves, we were invited to inhale the aromas of each of the jars before smelling each wine – and it worked! While we may all mock the often theatrical descriptions on the back of our wine bottles, I can now confirm that there are indeed hints of ripe apple and heady scents of tangy apricot. These aromas, along with the intricate flavours, were no longer reserved solely for sommeliers but bought to life for us mere mortals (with a little help!). Maybe, just maybe, it’s enough to transform my wine drinking forever.