Vineyards & Wine Tasting!
15.12.2011 - 18.12.2011 30 °C
We commenced our wine tasting pretty early after the silly woman from the campsite literally chased us out at 10am. In the heart of the Tupugnato region in Mendoza, we rocked up to one of the largest wine producers in the region. Bodega Salentein is stunning, set at 1200m in the Valle de Uco in the Andes. It's not your average traditional style argentinian Bodega, this steel and concrete, cross-shaped monument to winemaking is sleek and modern and even has an art gallery. Needless to say the owners are not Argentinian but dutch and seriously minted. It is so sleek in fact that you have to make an appointment for tasting. This level of organisation is not something we're accustomed to as adopted Argentinians, but for wine we can make an exception. So we make an appointment, drive a couple of hundred yards from the Salentein estate and.....we spot another Bodega that looks interesting. We are greeted by a rather cool looking gentleman offering us a tour of his boutique family-run Argentinian winery. How refreshing - we instantly feel at home. Skipping through the boring wine making history, young Jamie gets straight to the wine tasting. He explains how only a fraction of each season's grape harvest is selected to produce their exclusive wines. First we try their Cabernet Sauvignon which Nick loves, then onto the obligatory Malbec which actually felt a bit heavy after the first one, before trying the perfect blend of Malbec and Cabernet in their premier reserve range. As if these healthy family sized tastings weren't enough, we were offered a slurp of their grand reserve straight from the barrel - beautiful. Jamie then led us around his recently-opened restaurant (he is a chef as well as wine producer - why of course he is Argentinian so has many strings to his bow) and talked us through the design of his menu, the interiors and even gave us tasting of his home smoked ham - delicious. The personalized attention and laid-back atmosphere was great - a proper treat.
A little bit tipsy, luckily we only had to trundle up the road for our appointment at Salentein which we ended up being late for (not used to sticking to a tight schedule) and scowled at by pretty, model-like receptionists. Then we heard the clip clop of efficient feet behind us and turned to be met by a smart looking couple from London and their American friends and of course, a guide.
We were led outside to admire their beautiful vineyards - they have over 5000 acres of them.
Then through the four huge wings of the cellar which converge and meet at a circular central chamber which is lit with daylight from above. All very impressive but the endless dim-wit questions and note-taking from the rest of the group which then echoes off the four walls started bringing on a hangover. Finally we reach the tasting room only to be given skimpy measures half the size of our guide who merrily sipped away. We tasted some good Sauvignon Blanc, a lovely light Pinot Noir and a heavy Merlot. The greedy drunk guide then had the cheek to try and escort us out without even tasting one of their famous reserve Malbecs - thankfully the smarmy Londoner came into his element by requesting a tasting and was then put to shame when his wife commented that the wine had an aroma of grapes! They didn't write that one down.
Afte a tour around their private art collection, we trotted to the shop in search of the lovely Malbec we almost never got to try - "sorry, we are out of stock". OUT OF STOCK???? Didn't you just tell us you made millions of bottle a year???? Obviously the shop is being run by Argentines.
Disgruntled and drunk, we bought a bottle of their grand reserve Pinot Noir and left.
After a nice lunch, washed down with some of our purchases, we set out to find further tastings at various bodegas around the area. Trouble is, you get the same tour of very similar looking barrels, presses etc at every vineyard, so we started skipping the tours and going straight for the tasting and purchasing. By the end of our trip we had enough wine to last for the remainder of our road trip, putting some serious strain on the Clio's rear suspension but making my map reading much more fun.