Mendoza, Argentina. Possibly one of the most famous and renound wine regions in the world, and we were fortunate enough to visit.
We arrived here after a 6 hour bus journey from Santiago going through the Andes with spectacular sceneries and crossed possibly the easiest land border crossing we have ever done. We just got stamped out at one window and then stamped in by the guy sitting next to him. “Is that it…? Are we in Argentina now??” So it was quite a nice, easy first bus journey for us. I worry that things will not progress in the same way throughout SA.
We decided to walk to our hostel from the bus station. It wasn’t the best move as we were led to believe it was a 15 minute walk, actually turned out to be a 30-40 minute walk with our big bags on. But at least it wasn’t hot, just a heavy walk. We arrived and got ourselves settled in and were very happy to find out that the hostel offers LOADS of extras, like free cake every afternoon, all you can eat pancakes full of scrumptious dulche de leche as part of breakfast, free wine tasting course, free empenada making lesson…just to name a few. The day we turned up there was a traditional Asado BBQ happening that night which turned out to be beautiful, medium rare steaks of different varieties and plenty of red wine to wash it down. It was a great start to our trip in Argentina!
We booked ourselves onto a wine tour for an afternoon and enjoyed the wine tasting part and one of the tours around the winery was interesting. The next tour was exactly the same and a bit boring, we just wanted to get round to the wine tasting. The next day we decided to go with some friends on a self guided bike tour around the wineries and we realised just what we had been missing out on.
We got the bus to the Maipu area of Mendoza and went to rent some bikes from ‘Orange bikes’, we were warmly welcomed, offered coffee and water and we got to pick our bikes (we picked a tandem…possibly our first and last tandem experience) and after been shown where to go and closing times we got on our way. We decided to start at the far end and work our way back, so the first cycle was a good hour long, but we got the company and protection from a stray who decided to assist us on our journey. The ride was enjoyable and picturesque, as you cycle down tree lined roads with the Andes as a backdrop.
When we arrived we jumped straight into our wine tasting, costing only 40 Argentinian Pesos (4 GBP) we got to try 6 different types of wine and were feeling that lovely warm glow in our stomachs. We went to get on our bikes again and found that our poor tandem had a flat tyre, and to cut a long story short, we managed to get a lift in a police truck all the way to our next winery!
This vineyard was the most beautiful one we had seen, it mixed old derelict buildings with new ones and had lush gardens with olive trees, goaffers and llamas. Instead of doing wine tasting, we opted to buy 2 bottles of red at 65 pesos a piece (8GBP) and share them. We even got a free bottle of bubbly thanks to our U.S friends coming back for a second day! The red wines were 2 of the most beautiful wines we have tasted, one being my new favourite, a grape variety called Malbec. It’s just like a merlot, but better! So after 2 bottles of wine and the sun warming our backs we decided to head back via the chocolate and olive tapenade tasting place. Here we sampled chocolate and ate olive tapenade from our fingers as the bread ran out too quick. It was obviously that good!
All in all, we have had a brilliant wine fuelled 4 days in Mendoza, met great people, ate great food and sampled the best of what Mendoza has to offer. What a wonderful place!