Wining and Dining Mendoza Style . . . January 23, 2010
We did not really have a big plan for our last day in Mendoza but our two choices seemed to come down to rafting or a couple of winery tours. We discussed the options and Bob noted that he rafted often at home and that he'd neve done a winery tour. G opted for the rafting and I'll admit to just not having a preference. I'm pushing 50 and I'd never done a wine tour and thought it would be interesting. On the other hand rafting would have worked as well but we took Bob's option and lined up a day of wine tours.
Celeste gave us a contact in Mendoza who could arrange rides and the like so we gave her a call. She was unable to do anything herself but lined us up with Felipe who was ready for the task. Felipe literally arrived 20 minutes after the first phone call and had a plan in mind. We were soon whisked from Mendoza proper and off to the first winery stop, Alta Vista. We were soon through the gate thanks to Felipe's velvet manner and given a tour of the winery by a very nice English gal who was in Argentina for a year to work and work on her Spanish. She gave a great tour, tolerated G's inquiries and soon realized that perhaps G's allegations about Bob were not entirely, well let's just say she soon saw them as obviously patent falsehoods.
We did the tasting gig and she took time to educate me and G as to what we were even looking for in a tasting as I can, without reservation, classify myself as a vino ignoramus. So we swirled, we sniffed, and we swished a couple types of wine as part of our education tasting. Our host confided that we were a fun lot, certainly entertaining, and perhaps a break from the usual crowd. Alta Vista was a good tour, the most comprehensive of the bunch and the one I would return to (if I had my wife in tow, otherwise I think I'm not Napa bound).
Felipe took us to the next stop, where we got a short tour of the winery along the line of "there are the vats, now lets taste" and to be honest I don't recall the name of the outfit. We did the tasting, learned what a sweet desert wine was and press ganged one of the staff to take us out to the vineyard to tell us about the grapes.
Our final stop was Malepal Winery which is far more than a wine tour. The tour actually is centered around a lunch where each course is served with a glass of wine produced by the vineyard. With the exception of the food giants I was traveling with, this lunch will finish you off for the day as it takes about two hours and includes enough wine to make sure that you leave feeling good. We certainly did . . . oh by the way, you get a tour of the production facility as well and the vineyard if you wish. Our guide gave us a good tour and added all the information we could handle once she realized we were fascinated by the whole program.
When we finished the last of the three tours, Felipe was ready to take us back to the hotel and by four we were back at in our room. Bob was ready for a nap and while he took an afternoon siesta, G and I wandered more of the Mendoza commercial center as G continued the hunt for co-worker gifts and I focused my attention of the gellato stands. We got back to the hotel about 7 p.m. and it was my turn. The wines of the day had settled into my gut and I was now of a mind to hit the bed for a rest before dinner. Dinner time rolled around and I wasn't feeling any better so G and Bob were on their own for dinner . . . no Spanish coach at this point but there was no longer a need for that. They were back by 10 p.m. having found a pizza joint and covered their dinner needs.
While our day in Mendoza may not have had the adrenaline rush of a rafting trip, it was interesting and fun. I knew nothing of wine and by the end of the day, that young lady had given me enough insight to fake it in front of anyone who had less knowledge than I do. As for anyone else, well they'll see me for the flavored ice tea drinker that I really am!