The flight to Mendoza leaves the metropolis behind and heads out over the flat fertile Pampas – Gaucho country.
The city is just shy of the Andes mountains and what is effectively desert climate has been turned by irrigation into an ideal wine country – lots of sun, some temperature differential between day and night and easy to control watering from the Andes meltwater.
We were there for Pedro’s sisters wedding which was taking place in one of the vineyards (bodegas) in the Cuyo valley which was the perfect opportunity to take in a bit of the city and also a wine tour of the region.
The city itself is a pleasant set of old tree shaded squares and some colonial buildings which was laid out after a large earthquake in the 19th century.
We started early and our first tasting at Pulenta was just the right side of 9am. Apparently this is the perfect time to sample wine as the palate is clear.
We started by having a look around the areas where wine is aged and stored in concrete tanks and American and French Oak barrels.
We started with taste descriptor sampling where we would, eyes-closed, sniff various glasses with items like peppers, chocolate, tobacco, etc. and try to guess it. Tim was the star pupil of the morning, perhaps just wanting to get on to the real stuff.
A few glasses in we were on to our second stop of the morning at Sophenia – a smaller operation but with some really excellent wines. The problem is remembering after trying a dozen different types what you actually enjoyed.
Our lunch was in yet another bodega – La Azul – and by this stage any pretence of evaluation had gone out the window as we can see from the pictures!
The wedding itself was held in a small church in a suburb of Mendoza. Tim and Eugene had commissioned some polyester suits especially for the occasion and there was speculation whether they would build up enough static electricity to have shocks between them.
After the ceremony we all headed to the reception in Bodega Septima and the location was absolutely stunning – on the top of the winery with the snow-peaked Andes as a backdrop beyond rows and rows of vines.
The festivities started early and continued into late in the evening and suddenly beyond one point involved feather boas, hats, lots of sunglasses and glow-sticks.
The following day we had a fantastic restorative lunch in Siete Fuegos restaurant which would be 90 mins from Mendoza if Google maps didn’t send us down a dead end with nothing but a rustic farm on it!
Suitably hungry by this stage we started with empanadas before moving on to steaks and finishing with dulce de leche all washed down with wine pairing – a real Argentinian gastronomy tour-de-force.
A fitting sampling of all the best of Argentinian produce and scenery and set us up for a complete change of scenery to the barren windswept end of the continent – Patagonia.