Discovering Mendoza, Argentina is easy with Uncorking Argentina. Uncorking Argentina opens your eyes to experience all that Argentina offers. One might also say they uncork and decant 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 wine 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.
Travels to Argentina
As this was 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. For those, Argentina would include Buenos Aires, the Patagonians, and perhaps Chile. For me, I chose to concentrate on Mendoza making it my one-stop destination.
Unique to Uncorking Argentina is they tailor your trip to your specific needs. After filling out an assessment form to determine each person’s knowledge of wines, interests, budget, and other information related to one’s travel plans, a tailored itinerary is customized for you. Some of the winery visits include special activities like blending or a chocolate and wine pairing. The wineries chosen can range from small boutique wineries where you meet the family and winemakers where you discover wines that you cannot obtain in America, to a medium production winery or the larger more commercial vineyards and winery. Since a portion of the wineries now includes 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, 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, Independence Plaza lies at the center surrounded by four smaller plazas that create a square.
Although Mendoza is in a desert, city officials decided after an earthquake that the city would prosper with lots of greenery and trees. Every street is lined with trees giving the city 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 where a dam type system filters water through the city.
The Mendoza wine region consists of several distinct areas; Luján De Cuyo, Maipú, and Valley de Uco. Both Luján de Cuyo and Valle de Uco are well-established regions producing wines for well over 100 years. The Valle de Uco is only about 20 -30 years so it is relatively new to the Argentine wine industry. The terroir and climate depending on the proximity and location to the Andes all play a part in the wines and varietals.
In Lujan de Cuyo and Maipú, the pre-Andes range keeps the mountain breezes at bay. The climate is warmer giving 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.
As Luján de Cuyo and Maipú are fairly close one day can be dedicated to both those regions and another to the Uco Valley.
Since Mendoza is located in a desert, water becomes an issue. In Luján de Cuyo and Maipú the system is quite similar to the way the city gets its water. Each winery receives a day each week when the dam opens up to provide water to that winery. Most wineries contain a reservoir system that stores water, they use as needed. On those days that you do not receive an allocation, the water flows past another winery, which is entitled to water that day. The winery takes water from their reservoir, and either water by flooding, which is typically done utilize a drip irrigation system. In Valle de Uco, wineries utilize wells for irrigation.
The white wine varietals of Argentina are Torrentes, a crisp white and native grape of Argentina, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc. In the reds, Malbec, Argentina’s most known variety, Bonardo, the second-largest red grape produced in the country and Cabernet Sauvignon. You will also find Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Merlot.
Dining in Argentina
If you are traveling to Argentina, here are a couple of things to remember. The Argentineans are on a different clock. They eat lunch at around 1 p.m. Lunch can be a huge 5-course meal. Shops close 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, planning a wonderful visit, I highly recommend discovering Argentina with Uncorking Argentina.