Mendoza

After a long day of traveling, we arrived at our hostel in Mendoza at 11pm. Lao Hostel happened to be having a dinner party for the staff and some guests when we checked in and the owners generously invited us to join them. We had whatever grilled meat they had leftover, amazing salad (this is REALLY difficult to find in Argentina!!), and bottle after bottle of wine. We talked about our travels and discussed/debated/argued politics with our new friends and all of a sudden it was 5am! I had to wake up to work that morning -_- but it was totally worth it. (Marc had the luxury of sleeping in and lounging around until 3p.)

That evening, we took a sunset horseback riding tour with Los Pingos that evening. Our tour included transportation to the vineyard, a two hour horseback riding tour through the hills of Mendoza with incredible views of the region (even on a cloudy day), asado, and music. The gaucho experience they call it. This was Marc’s first time going horseback riding and he enjoyed himself, despite his misbehaving horse. His horse kept stopping to eat and it often refused to move. The guide had to give him a big branch to whip the horse, who eventfully listened. We met some New Yorkers on our tour! Most Americans we have met are from the West Coast (at least in Peru, Bolivia, and Chile) but of course in wine country we would meet NYCers. They were a fun group. We had more asado, bbq steak, and then our guide serenaded us with his guitar. It was pretty good!

The next day we went wine tasting by bike in Maipu. Bacchus Vineyards Biking makes it really easy. They figure out the best route given the day and time (we started at noon on a Saturday and many places were either closed or had siesta) and map it out for you. They gave us two options and we decided on two wineries and a chocolate tasting room (really more like a sauces and liqueurs tasting).

First on our list was Bodega Pulmary, a family-run winery that produces great organic wines! Our guide actually lived in Santa Barbara for a few years and worked at a winery there. He recognized Marc’s UCSB hat of course “Ah UCSB, fun school.” Ha. We tried wines from various stages of the wine making process – from the tank and the barrel to the finished product. Their sparkling wine and port at the end was probably one of the best I’ve tasted! This was a great way to start out day and it set the bar high.

We grabbed a quick bite and made our way to our next stop, Bodega Carmelo Patti. Here we were given a tour by Carmelo Patti, the winemaker himself. The entire tour was in Spanish (with Marc and another girl as our translators) and even though I didn’t know everything he was saying, you could tell how proud and passionate the man was about his wine. He explained the packaging and aging process to us, explained how to store and open wine, and then we sampled 3 of his lovely wines- a Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, and a blend. I think I was the only one who liked the blend the most.

After two wineries, I was feeling pretty good. Luckily, our last stop was a chocolate tasting room at A La Antigua. It’s not exactly what it sounds like. In fact, we tasted very little chocolate. The first part of the tasting was of their sauces and jams. There was a nice balance of savory and sweet options  (half of these sweet jams were dulce de Lethe based of course). Then we each picked two liqueurs among the 15 or so they had to try. Mandarina was everyone’s favorite.

Mendoza was so laid-back and relaxing. Two days was not enough. I would have loved another day to explore more wineries and one more for the outdoor spa. Maybe that would’ve been enough time for the weather to really clear up and for us to see the snowcapped Andes Mountain range. I would definitely love to come back here to enjoy more wines though!

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