This is our third trip to Mendoza, and as we did on the last two trips, we took wine tours for a couple days with Vendimia Wine Tours. Leo is the owner of Vendimia, and we used him the last two visits, so we were really excited to tour with him again on this visit. Leo always aims to see that we enjoy ourselves, and have lots of fun and good experiences along the way. Like our previous tours, Leo brought Rollie with him on our tour, who kept us entertained with knowledge of the area and vineyard, as well as some good stories and English translations where necessary, although Leo speaks good English (much better than my broken Spanish!)
Leo picked us up at the Hyatt Hotel, and we drove off to our first of three wineries for Day one. Our first stop was Benegas Winerey. This winery was an old and established winery with lots of history and equipment, dating back to the ate 1800’s. Steve (DOS) and I were on a private winery day tour, although we were later joined by two other couples (on another private tour) for our tour and tasting. We had actually met this couple (from Chicago) at our hotel just after breakfast. We were invited into the living room area, which was actually a huge room they use for tastings and private functions.
This enormous room had a pair of the largest sofas I’d ever seen, as well as a huge dining room, and gigantic fireplace grill, along with wall hangings of exotic gaucho ponchos from yesteryear.
Our guide said you can rent this room out for 10 or more people, and I imagine that would be quite a nice party! Here we are in the living room below, along with DOS and Rollie.
As we arrived had before the other two couples, we relaxed with a glass of wine on the fancy sofa, and were soon introduced to the other couples from Chicago. We then all moved on to the next large room, which was a museum of sorts showcasing their former wine equipment.
We next toured the caves and the barrel room with hundreds of French Oak barrels naturally kept cool underground in this maze-like infrastructure.
We then went to a large dining type room in the cellar, where we had our wine tasting. We tasted four premium red wines which were all very good.
My only regret was I had brushed my teeth with this new whitening paste right before we left which affected the last slightly! LOL! Seriously though, we were on a wine tour years ago and they suggested not brushing your teeth before you do wine tasting as it does affect the tasting – good advice and true. We tasted a 2014 Malbec, a 2009 single estate Red blend, a 2008 Cabernet Franc, and the ultra iconic wine “FBL” vintage 2010, of which there were only 23 bottles left. I was really surprised they even let us last the FBL since there was so little left, but it was quite a treat as well as the other wines.
We ended up buying one Cabernet Franc, and three bottles of the FBL which was around $120 US. We would love to have bought more, but traveling internationally, even with our new wine suit case, we are limited on the amount we can bring back home.
After visiting the more traditional Bodegas Winery, we went to a modern winery called Trivento. These wineries were opposite in decor, but were equally enjoyable. That’s what we love about going to the wineries – each one worldwide is different and has it’s own personality. The well manicured and floral dressed ground at Trivento were beautiful, and the indoor decor was modern.
Upon entry, we were given a glass of sparkling wine which we enjoyed as we toured the facilities.
While touring the working facilities, our guide explained the different process for fermentation and aging wine. The concrete vats are becoming more common in wineries, although still are few and far between, with the stainless steel and oak barrels still in the majority for the fermentation process.
I asked how the concrete vat affected the taste vs the oak or stainless steel, and was told it ferments wine very well, lasts much longer than oak barrels, and inflects some of the mineral-type essence of the concrete into the wine, but in a good way, while the stainless steel vats are neutral.
One interesting thing we saw while touring was a wine staffer topping off the barrels with extra wine. Our guide told us that the barrels can lose approximately 3% of the wine to evaporation, and must be periodically topped off with wine, from a separate barrel used for this purpose. The wine staffer poured the wine into each barrel individually via a long apparatus with a long funnel-like hose, similar to what you would use to water a garden, but on a much larger scale.
We then had our tasting in the living room lobby of the winery, along with two other couples from Argentina. We had our tasting by the local winery guide, which she presented in both Spanish and English, although the other couples spoke English as well.
We had four reds which were very nice, and were decanted prior to serving us. As Mendoza is known for it’s Malbecs, we tried several different vintages from new to old, comparing the color and taste as we went.
We ended up buying four bottles at Trevinto to add to our collection, and leaving happy!
Our final stop for the day was for lunch at another winery/restaurant called Casa El Emigo. Along the drive, we enjoyed the beautiful Fall day in Mendoza, with the colored trees and colorful flowers.
Once at the winery, we took several photos of the property, admiring the huge vaults on display outside, to the champagne bottle display, to the vineyards. Leo took a couple photos of us, before joining in the photo as well.
It was really nice to see the colorful vines during this Fall season in Mendoza. On our two previous visits it was winter, and the vines were dormant without any leaves; now they were in their full colorful peak!
As it was such a nice day, we ate outside on the patio overlooking the vineyard at the restaurant. Casa El Emigo is one of the top rated restaurants in Mendoza, and it definitely was a class, yet not pretentious act. We walked thru the restaurant and wine bar, deciding to sit outside and enjoy the view.
We had a wonderful late lunch with multiple wines, complimenting our multi-course meal.
For the main course, I had one of their specialities, the braised ribs, while DOS was adventurous and had the goat ravioli, which was their special of the day.
We even got our photo taken with the owner before we left! He was quite a character, and walked around the restaurant with his glass of vino greeting the diner guests.
As well as the owner, myself, and Reuben (from our Mountain tour the day before) who was on tour at the restaurant with another couple.
While we both enjoyed our meals, DOS became quite ill late that night and the next day, probably from the goat, we surmised later in retrospect. He does’t blame the restaurant, rather our body is not used to that type of ‘exotic’ food he says. We had eaten the same foods on the trip, shared the chilled soup and hot empanadas that day, had bottled and even tap water, so the goat was the only thing different in our diets. DOS was a sport though, and made it thru the rest of the trip, although by the time we left to go home he really wasn’t feeling well. I fortunately did not get sick, so it wasn’t an airborne virus most likely.
We arrived back at the hotel late in the afternoon after our full day of touring, and Leo and Rollie helped us back with our purchases.
For now though, we had a wonderful day tour of the Mendoza wineries. Just remember not to eat anything to exotic when you’re traveling, and for DOS, no more goat ravioli!