Discovering Mendoza, Argentina can be made easy with Uncorking Argentina. Uncorking Argentina opens your eyes to experience all that Argentina has to offer or one might say they are uncorking and decanting all the wonders of Argentina, more specifically Mendoza. For those wanting an exciting and comprehensive wine tour with tastings, it is the perfect way to learn about the many grape varietals of the Mendoza region. In addition Uncorking Argentina will show you the adventures of the Andes whether it be hiking, horseback riding or rafting.
As this was truly my first trip to South America, I cannot count a cruise stop in Cartagena, Columbia as traveling to South America, I wanted to experience as much as I possibly could, educating myself to the wines and varietals of this country. Most people when traveling to a foreign country try to cover a broad part of the country and with Argentina it would include Buenos Aires, the Patagonians, and perhaps Chile. For me I chose to concentrate just on Mendoza making it my one-stop destination.
Tailoring a trip to your specific needs makes Uncorking Argentina unique. After an assessment form is completed with each person’s knowledge of wines, interests, budget and other information related to ones travel plans, a customized itinerary is created to suit your desires. Some of the winery visits include special activities like blending varietals or a chocolate and wine pairing. The wineries chosen can range from small artisan boutique wineries where you meet the family or winemaker, discovering wines that you cannot obtain in the United States, to a medium production or a the larger more commercial winery with extensive vineyards. Since a good portion of the wineries now feature restaurants offering lunch with a known Mendoza chef, pairing their wines with your meal, one gets the opportunity to experience the local cuisine in a vineyard setting. Also available are cooking classes and olive oil tastings.
I highly recommend spending a minimum of three to four days in Mendoza and the surrounding wine regions. The first day is a great opportunity to discover the city. After an earthquake in the 1860s, Mendoza reestablished itself around a group of plazas or what Americans would call parks. The main one being Independence Plaza at the center and is surrounded by four smaller plazas that create a square.
Although Mendoza is in a desert, following the earthquake city officials decided that the city would prosper with lots of greenery and trees. Every street is lined with trees giving Mendoza a very European flair. A system of canals and channels called the acequia was established to water those trees. The water comes from the Andes and there a dam type system that brings water through the city.
The Mendoza wine region is made up of several distinct areas; Luján De Cuyo, Maipú and Valley de Uco. Both Luján de Cuyo and Maipú are well-established regions that have produced wines well over 100 years. The Valle de Uco is relatively new to the Argentine wine industry being only 20 -30 years old. The terrior, climate depending on the proximity to the Andes and location all play a part in the wines and varietals.
In Luján de Cuyo and Maipú, the pre Andes range keeps the mountain breezes at bay. Due to the warmer climate, the grapes often ripen faster giving the wine especially Malbecs more intensity and spice and big aromas.
In the Valle de Uco the weather seems cooler and like the wines of California coast, the mountain breezes that drive the temperatures down at night play a vital role in the grapes growing process. The wines of this region are subtle and velvety with structure and elegance.
Water is another issue that is faced in this dessert. In Luján de Cuyo and Maipú the system is quite similar to the cities method of bringing water via canals from the Andes. Each winery or vineyard is given a day each week when their individual dam is opened up to provide water. Most wineries have a reservoir system, enabling the storage of water to be used as needed. On those days when a vineyard does not receive an allocation the water flows past to another winery entitled to water that day. Irrigation of the vineyards is by flooding, a method often used at the beginning of the season or a drip system. In Valle de Uco wineries utilize wells for irrigation.
As Luján de Cuyo and Maipú are fairly close, one day can be dedicated to both those regions and another to the Valle de Uco.
The wines varietals of Argentina are Torrentes, a crisp white and native grape of Argentina, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Malbec, which is the red varietal Argentina is most known for, Bonardo, the second largest red grape produced in the country, Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir. You will also find Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Merlot.
One cannot travel to Argentina without an adventure to the Andes whether it be a trip to Mt. Aconcagua, an Asado barbeque in the mountains, horseback riding, hiking or rafting. Designate a separate day to journey to the Andes. It is amazing to explore the beauty of these mountains. The peacefulness and serenity of the setting rejuvenates especially after a prior day of wine tasting. It is an exhilarating experience that one should not miss.
If you are traveling to Argentina here are a couple of things to remember. The Argentineans are on a different clock. They eat lunch around 1 p.m. Lunch can be a huge 5-course meal. Shops are closed from 1 – 4 p.m. and reopen from 4 – 9 p.m. Argentines eat dinner at 10 p.m. While traveling in Argentina you want to follow the dining customs to truly enjoy your visit.
If you want to get corked up on Argentina by planning a wonderful incredible visit, I highly recommend discovering Argentina with Uncorking Argentina like I did.
For more information visit Uncorking Argentina.
This is the first in a series of articles about my travels to Mendoza, Argentina. Articles will consist of both my Uncorking Argentina adventures as well as those where I was hosted at individual wineries. You will find some articles in this column but others may be featured in my wine column, Brentwood Glen Wine Examiner.
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