During our Easter lunch at the Hyatt they had served up a delicious voigner white, and as they kept pouring we kept drinking. Except we didn’t really know what we were drinking… Investigations through the concierge when we were in Uruguay pointed to a winery called a Luigi Bosca in the Lujan de Cuyo region, one of the regions near Mendoza, was to be our first stop on our Mendocian wine tasting day. An 11 am tour and tasting was booked and a full day out including lunch was planned. We had just left the apartment when a call came through from the apartment rental looking for a ride out to Lujan. Brazilians, they always seemed to leave their requests to the last minute. They knew they had an 1130 tasting booked, why didn’t they ask the day before? Anyhow, such is the prerogative of being a tourist.
We picked them up and their visit was to Pulenta Estate, which was to be our third visit of the day. It was a lot further out than we thought so that was the end of Luigi Bosca visit as they only do English tours and tastings on certain days at particular times. Ne’er mind, no doubt we would visit somewhere else instead.
On arriving at Pulenta our Brazilians guests suggested that we should join their tour now rather than coming back later, which made sense. The winery was fine with us joining, so with a glass of chardonnay in hand, down we went into the cellars to view their different modes of wine making and storage methods. The estate has been open 14 years. Between the concrete, the metal and the French wood casket (which had to be turned 16 times a day by hand) we got to see it all. It also transpired that the owner’s sons had a passion for fast cars. Whenever a new edition of a Porsche would come out they would make a special edition wine that would only be given to the buyers of that edition of Porsche.
Time to sit down for our wine tasting, 5 glasses put in front of us. Four were 2012. 1 pinot noir which was very light but with a 14.5 alcohol content – Argentinean wines have a higher alcohol than the rest of the world 13 – 15%. 1 malbec which would go great with red meats. The cabernet franc is their signature wine, and is quite spicy with undertones of of green peppers; its known as a green wine. The premium wine, Solema, we tried was a blend of malbec and cab sav from 2010 and was very intense in colour and was a really smooth – that was the one I would buy!
Of course then we had to get the Brazilians back to Mendoza. They had a wedding that afternoon. Looked like our 1pm lunch reservation at Bodega Vistalba was going to go out if the window too. But I was told that this was Argentina time. Being an hour late wasn’t a bad late! It wasn’t. They still let us in. We had a choice of two courses with 3 paired wines for 430 pesos (£21) our four courses, five wines for 670 pesos (£32) – cheap compared to London price. A white sauvignon blanc to start with delicious home made bread alongside home grown olives. A malbec to join the second course, a perfectly cooked salmon (always take the fish in nice mendocian restaurants as it should usually be freshly acquired – otherwise we are at least 8 hours from the sea with the Andes mountain range in the way! And fish is unlikely to be fresh in most places). Desert was a chocolate mousse in a mint gazpacho paired with a glass of blush bubbles. Delicious food, the bubbles and the white wine I enjoyed; wasn’t too sure about the malbec, not one I would buy off the shelf.
Lunch done by 4 pm, where to next? Well it seemed that visitors always came out happy and pissed from Kaiken Boedga. It was only up the road, so Kaiken it was with the hope that we could get a tasting without having booked. We were in luck, bookings not necessary. You can just show up and they were open every day of the week too. At some snobby bodega they demand reservations, you only stay a certain time frame and can be closed on Sundays and Mondays.
The lovely lady gave us a glass of sauvignon blanc, told us to choose our table of choice for our tasting and she would be out shortly once they had set up but to press have a look around, relax and she would be with us shortly. Here we went for the tasting that cost 160 pesos (£8) which covered 4 of their regular wines and their showcase wine. We now know why visitors came out happy and pissed… Because after the tasting is done they leave the bottles on the table, and tell you to sit back, relax and enjoy the grounds. If you want a tour you can have one but you don’t have to. For future reference you can prebook picnics to have inn the grounds, anywhere of your choice and they will accommodate.
I have a feeling that Kaiken will be included on future tours out to Lujan de Cuyo. Probably towards the end of the day. Pissed guests are usually happy guests!