Wine tour in Mendoza – That’s three continents now! - Days 460-461
Today we took a Wine tour in Mendoza – That’s three continents now! Two very different wineries with #Malbec being the main player. Not usually a lover of red wine, did I like it?
“That was very pleasant,” I said as we had just given our hire bikes back. We had been on yet another wine tour. That’s three continents we’ve been to wine regions now. First Renwick, New Zealand then Stellenbosch, South Africa. Having got somewhat sozzled the last time, drinking from 9am to 5pm, we were rather refined today and visited just two wineries.
We hired our bikes from #BacchusBikes, recommended to us by our son and his girlfriend. Funny to think that they were here two months ago. We were given a map and recommended wineries to visit, highlighting the route and they even booked a table for lunch at one of the establishments.
We rode down pleasant lanes, some with cycle paths until we came to San Martin road, with shops, car garages, and small manufacturing factories. Not somewhere I would think a winery would be. We couldn’t find our first one to start with; we had been warned that there is no sign on the outside, just the number of the street 2614. We discovered that Tim mistakenly thought it was 2641. No wonder we couldn’t find it!
At last, we found #BodegaCarmeloPatti, a family owned business. We were welcomed immediately by a smiling elderly man with one of those faces that have passion and friendliness written all over it. This was Carmelo himself. Carmelo’s daughter took over and poured us a glass of red wine. Luck would have it, a group of 5 people had an English translator with them, so we gate-crashed their group.
The wine in our glass was Malbec Cosecha 2013. Now I don’t usually like red wine; however, the aroma of red fruit was delicious. I took a sip, did the swirling in the mouth, so I looked as if I knew what I was doing. Yes, first impressions were positive, and then swallowed. Wow! A red wine that I enjoy! I even finished the glass! We were informed that Carmelo has studied the wines for many years and has come to the conclusion that Malbec is best left for 8 years and then is at its finest for the next 20. So, despite this wine not yet reaching maturity, it is doing very well.
The next wine was Cabernet Sauvignon Cosecha 2009 which was in the peak timeframe to drink. Not to my taste. A sweet blackcurrant odour but too much tannin for my delicate palate. The last wine was a blend; Gran Assemblage Cosecha 2009. Again too much tannin for me. It took Carmelo two months to perfect the combination, and this is why blended wines cost more. I did not know that. Foolishly I thought they would be cheaper as it was all the leftovers mixed together! Oh dear – my apologies to all you wine connoisseurs!
We were given some great tips on getting a tight cork out of a wine bottle without breaking it. First, hold the bottle at 45 degrees and ensure that the corkscrew is twisted all the way down through the cork. Then with a flame, gently heat the neck, so that the glass expands and the paraffin in the cork burns. With a rotating motion, the cork should now smoothly come out.
Our guide was proud of her family’s wine business. She showed us articles written in the Guardian and other newspapers. I read how Carmelo started out picking grapes when he was 10 years old. He sold his car so he could start to make wine, buying grapes from local vineyards and then turning this commodity into wonderful wines in his garage. Recently they were awarded 98/100 in a renowned Wine Specialist Book.
As we were leaving, Carmelo gave me a warm smile and asked if I liked the wine. When I said that the Malbec was superb, he beamed with joy. What a delight to meet someone so passionate about what they do. A highly recommended tasting and it was free, which, from what I have read, is unusual. Well done Mr Patti.
We cycled along San Martin for our second winery; #BodegaLagarde. This is a very different type of business, sleek with a security guard at the front, large lawns, vineyards and olive trees, opulent stone statues and a beautiful restaurant with gardens. We sat overlooking the vines with the Andes looming up in the background. Young ladies and men dressed in white served us, explaining about the food and wine. There were options for a 7 or 4-course meal; we went for the latter. We’re not used to eating loads these days, and we had a cycle ride afterwards, so needed to be able to move.
Our first wine was an unoaked Lagarde Chardonnay. I don’t usually like Chardonnay but when in South Africa, our Airbnb host and now friend, Charles who owns Darling Wines, tempted me to try an unoaked version. It had an entirely different taste. Much lighter and crisper. I am pleased to say that the one we were drinking today was the same.
The starter was “Tomato Textures” from their orchard with three kinds of cheese, goat yoghurt and pistachios, including a tomato sorbet. Simple, yet scrumptious. Sadly we got stuck into the dish before we realised that we hadn’t taken a photo.
The next wine was another Malbec, Guarda Malbec Doc. Sadly this was not to my taste. Too much tannin. I am very fussy with my wines, I know what I like and don’t like. Tim had the Veal filet, while I had Salmon from Patagonia, with pureed vegetables from the gardens and black garlic oil cream which was unbelievable. Our dessert was peaches in three ways and American style cream, accompanied with Altas Cumbras Extra Brut with an aroma of tropical fruits, some honey and toast (OK, I copied that from their website!).
Lastly, coffee with Petit Fours, or should I say Threes as there was only three! A nice wooden stand with a pink macaroon, coconut macaroon and a square jelly. Hang on a minute. We are paying for two meals here. Why have we only got one of each? I am getting rather assertive in my old age and did say something to our waiter. He tried to fob me off saying that this is a gift from the chef, but I wouldn’t have it. It was included on the menu. He sheepishly brought another three to the table later. Good for him for doing something about it. I hope he passes on my feedback onto the powers that be.
Despite this, it really was an exceptional meal, delightful tastes and perfectly cooked. And including the wines was a very reasonable £32 each. The exchange rate is going our way at the moment.
We were supposed to move on to a third vineyard, but we were very comfortable, didn’t want to drink any more alcohol and wanted to take the afternoon at a leisurely pace. We had a pleasant cycle back into Chacras de Coria, dropped the bikes off and wandered through the town to Café Pulcino.
Now, I haven’t mentioned what we did on Day 460 as it was quite a chillax day. We walked to the Supermarket, had lunch, walked 50 minutes in 36 degrees heat to Chacras de Coria, this pretty small town on the edge of Mendoza, booked our bikes for today and then found #CaféPulcino. The owner, seeing our hot faces, immediately suggested we had a jug of fresh homemade lemonade. It was delicious, and we sat, relaxing in his gorgeous café, with quirky chairs, fabulous artwork while he later gold-leafed an old set of weighing scales. It was such a lovely place that we returned here today for a second helping of refreshing lemonade, and they kindly gave us some Tapas.
Using our faithful friend Google translate, I asked him who his ideal client was. He responded, “One who knows how to enjoy the little things in life, a coffee, a book and a picture”. What a great answer and the right place to end a very pleasant day.