The Traveling Steve's

Touring Mendoza wineries with Leo – Day 2

Before heading out on our second day of touring the wineries, we had breakfast at our hotel, The Park Hyatt Mendoza.  As we walked down the hall from our room towards the elevator, we looked out at the beautiful 8am morning Mendoza sky.

Downstairs at the restaurant, we had a full buffet breakfast buffet as we didn’t want to do wine tasting at 9am on an empty stomach. The Hyatt buffet is very nice and filled us up with a variety of fresh fruits, breakfast meats, croissants, juices and coffee.

 

After breakfast, Leo, owner of Vendimia WineTours, and his assistant Rolly, met us again in the hotel lobby for day two of touring some of the Mendoza wineries.  Unlike yesterday’s tour of the Uco Valley (Valle de Uco) which was over an hour’s drive away, today’s touring thru the Lujan de Cuyo region, was much closer to our hotel in downtown Mendoza.  Here is a link on the Lujan de Cuvo region, as described on Wine-searcher.com.

Our first stop was a large and popular winery called Alta Vista Winery. Alta Vista Winery was the largest of the wineries we went to on our two day tour with Leo, however being off-season and winter-time in Argentina, we were the only visitor’s there for our tour and tasting.  

Like the other wineries we have been to, we first toured the production facilities. Alta Vista’s wine production area was much larger than the others due to the higher volume of wine produced.  

Alta Vista had a mix of old equipment, neatly arranged in rows with box-like enclosures hiding the tanks inside, as well as newer concrete ‘egg’ containers we’ve seen a few other places.  The floor area was wet as a worker there had been washing out one of the large tanks as we arrived.

The production floor was very large, and their French Oak barrels were some of the nicest we’ve seen in terms of color, with a large maroon-colored ring around them.

Another room in the cellar housed many additional barrels of wine, all stacked neatly and going thru the aging process.

After the tour, we headed to the upstairs tasting counter where we tried several different wines, including their top iconic wines.  As seen from their wall displays, Alta Vista makes a wide range of wines in different levels of quality and quantity.

The wines were encased for showcasing various brands and quality levels; from standard, to better, to best etc, up to “Alto” – the iconic best wine.

We tried several different wines, at different quality levels, all of which were very good.

 

The last wine wine we tried however, the 2010 “Alto” label, was their iconic wine and was fantastic!

While we tried the 2010 Malbec blend, which was the last vintage they had available for tasting, we noted the other years they still had available for purchase.  We took the suggestion of our wine server, that the 2006 vintage was exceptional, and bought a couple bottles of this iconic wine, along with 4 bottles of some of the other wines we had tasted.

I also got a cap for my collection, and wore the rest of the day as it was quite sunny.

After leaving Alta Vista Winery, we went to Malbec De Angeles, which is a small but premium boutique winery, with vineyards dating back to 1924.

 It was nice contrasting a large high production winery such as Alta Vista, with a small production winery De Angeles which has around 50 acres.  It’s these smaller boutique wineries we find extra special, as we were given our tour and later tasting with both the owner and wine maker, who were very passionate about their wines.  Guillermo, the owner of the family winery, showed us around the vineyards and the wine production area.  

Here we sampled a young wine-in-progress, straight out of the tank, where it had not been aged in the French Oak barrels yet.  We would later taste the finished product of the same wine, a mature bottled wine after having been aged in French Oak, settled in the bottle itself.

As we moved along on the tour, Guillermo provided us a private tasting in the barrel aging room itself.  Fine wines with premium cheeses hosted by the owner himself in his own winery – how cool is that!

Guillermo also asked us which of the two top two wines we would like to sample more of when we went back outside.  They were both exceptional blends with, Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec, (in different blends of each) but we chose the Gran Corte (Malbec) since it is the region where Malbec grows the best, (as well as Malbec is in the name of the winery ‘Malbec De Angeles’ ) so it must be the top showcase wine, which it turned out it was.

After our indoor tour, we then had had an exclusive outdoor tasting with Guillermo, and Juan, the Winemaker, as well as Rolly our guide from Vendimia Wine Tours.  Leo was driving so he stood back and watched us enjoy the wine, and took a few photos of us and the property.

 This was really a wonderful and casual tasting, literally sitting outside sharing a bottle of iconic Malbec/Cab blend with the owner and winemaker, in an informal, rather social-like setting you would have with your neighbors.

Guillermo explained the logo, which like the name ‘Malbec De Angeles’ means ‘Malbec from Angels’, and indeed the logo resembles and angel with a large A and halo. The logo itself was quite classy, as was the quality of the wine.

We also were served some olive oil in these cute blue tasting glasses, also with the logo on them.  We would have bought a set of these mini glasses to take with us, but unfortunately they weren’t for sale.

We had a most enjoyable afternoon at Malbec De Angeles thanks to the hospitality of Guillermo and Juan, and had our photo taken with them as we finished up our outdoor tasting.

 Many thanks, gentlemen!  Muchas Gracias!

As we headed back to the car to leave Malbec De Angeles, we once again admired this enormous tree we we’re parked beside.

Finally our last stop of the day and two day tour, was a lunch stop at Fogon (Cocina De Vinedo).  This restaurant was on the site of Lagarde Winery, and it was quite a nice ending to our tour. Here we are approaching the entrance gate, as Leo drives us in.

Once inside we admired the beautiful grounds as we headed for our multi course wine pairing lunch. 

The restaurant was classy and chic, without being pretentious in any way.  It reminded of one of our favorite Sonoma Valley, California type restaurants with its trendy decor, menu, and wines.

We had outstanding service from multiple servers, with the different wines complimenting each course. One of our servers, Lauren, was a delightful lady from California, who had just finished college in the States, and had moved to Mendoza recently as she (like us) had fallen in love with the area.

As we worked our way thru the multi-course meal, Steve (DOS) and I were already contemplating coming back to Mendoza again for the Labor Day weekend holiday in September.  DOS had wanted to go to Buenos Ares, but we have both been there before, and we both really preferred the warmth and charm of Mendoza over the big city.

After we finished our wine-pairing lunch, we got our picture taken with our servers,

we bought two of the limited edition “Henry” wines, as well as some logo wine glasses and eight olive oil mini tasting cups, and a bottle of olive oil.

Our ride back to the hotel was fairly quick, and Leo as always helped us into the hotel with our purchases.  

We said our sad goodbye’s to Leo and Rolly, and told them we were planning on coming back in September, and would be in touch.  Tomorrow Leo would also take us back to the airport, and give us a DVD of the photos he had taken of us.

While we were done with the winery tours, we didn’t leave until the next evening at 5pm, so we still had a nice dinner to look forward to, and some sleep in time in the morning.  Now our only worry is how to get all 18 bottles of wine and souvenirs back home!   

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