We finally left Chile for good (Yea! No more crazy Chilean customs!), and headed straight for Argentina’s wine country. If you have ever had an Argentinean wine, you can almost guarantee it came from the Mendoza region.
This area attracts a large amount of tourists who are ready to impress the crowds with phrases such as: “Oaky finish,” “wonderful bouquet,” “fruity balance,” and “nice legs” (referring to the wine). We, on the other hand, classed up the joint by saying things like: “I like this one,” “gross,” “I don’t taste the chocolate,” and “how much?” We might not be the most educated wine tasters, but we know what we like, and we had a great time enjoying the different varieties.
Despite the hoards of people in town for the Easter weekend, we got right down to business. Our first tasting was at a wine bar in the city of Mendoza. Vines of Mendoza is a great place to sample all the amazing wines from this large region without having to drive all over creation. The people here were super friendly and eager to have us enjoy some of the fruits of their labors.
We shared a flight of Malbecs (the most famous type of wine in the area), and enjoyed the relaxed surroundings. We also had a chuckle at some of the other nearby tables and their pretentious wine speak.
While we didn’t both agree on the same winner, we did enjoy each of wines.
One really popular activity is going to the city of Maipu (right outside of Mendoza), renting a bike, and riding around to some of the many small wineries. We saw a few younger, more “enthusiastic” backpackers furiously pedaling to try to make it to all the wineries and get back in one piece. We took the more relaxed (we like to think “more mature”) approach. We picked a few that sounded interesting and started our own two person peloton.
At our first winery, Bodega Carinae, we joined a tour of the facilities given by one of the owners. We opted for the Spanish tour, as it was much smaller and more personal; just us and a family from Colombia. We tried to gleam as much information as we could, but listening to a tour in Argentinian Spanish with a French accent was a bit of a challenge. We might not have gained much new wine-making knowledge, but it was a fun time.
We had a great time visiting some of the different wineries and even an olive oil shop. Riding the bikes through the amazing countryside was great, and the tree-lined streets made the ride nice and cool.
While Mendoza is dominated by the wine scene, the city does have more to offer. This area was leveled by an earthquake in the 1860’s, and they had the unique opportunity to rebuild the city the way they wanted to.
Mendoza has many great parks and all the streets are lined by huge, beautiful trees. This was made possible by irrigation added to all the streets which help keep the trees nice and watered. The shade provided by these trees also keeps it from feeling too sweltering outside.
We spent a good amount of time sitting in the parks and people watching. In all of the parks you are guaranteed to find a few friendly dogs who will entertain you as they go from gringo group to gringo group looking for the best hand outs.
Filling ourselves with enough wine and park time to make a homeless man happy (joke brought to you by Joe), we set out for a quick stop in Buenos Aires before heading to Uruguay. Since we have been traveling for so long, we decided to treat ourselves to a first class bus.
These seats would lay down into a full 180 degree bed and each had their own entertainment system. This would have been enough to satisfy our tired behinds, but the service on the bus was enough to knock your socks off, and we are sure that if they were, the bus attendant would find them and put them back on for you. We were served a cold dinner, warm dinner, dessert, breakfast, and enough booze to make you forget the entire trip.
It was a great experience which made us feel like a million bucks. A word of warning: full glasses of champagne and bouncing buses don’t mix. How many times do you think those words have been uttered in the same sentence?
Uruguay and their easy-going lifestyle is calling our names. Time to exit Argentina again, but don’t worry, we are coming back!