The uncommon rainstorms in Mendoza weren’t enough to keep me from enjoying what myself and every other traveler visits Mendoza for, the wine. I read a great blog about doing wine tasting in Mendoza on a budget which meant taking a bus to the Maipu district south of the city. Paul, Ian, and I were meant to rent bicycles to get around but we missed the bus stop for the rental shop. Not wanting to wait in the rain for the bus to return we decided we’d do our wine tour on foot, in the rain. Welcome to the no frills wine tour of Mendoza. Where the bus dropped us off happened to be near a small olive oil tasting room. I’d never thought this was something I’d want to taste outside of a meal but the smell of fresh baked empanadas drew us inside. We tasted four distinct kinds of olive oil. I never knew olive oil could be so good and that I would enjoy tasting spoonfuls of it. When I get home, I vow to never buy the cheapest bottle of olive oil Trader Joe’s offers.
Looking at our rain soaked map we headed down a side street to our first vineyard of the day which would be the oldest and largest winery we visited. Trapiche has been making wine since 1883 and has become the largest producer of wine in Argentina. I won’t pretend to be a wine expert so I’m not going to attempt to describe the varietals. There was one wine that stood out amongst all the others, not only for how good it was but for the context of this wine. After tasting a few malbecs, cabernet sauvignon, and a white, we tried a wine I had never heard of before, cabernet franc. It was my favorite of the day but unfortunately I haven’t been able to find it in stores. The host of the tour talked about how they believe Cabernet Franc will become more popular than malbec in a few years.
The Mendoza region isn’t just for wines. A short walk down the gravel road from Trapiche is the small eclectic beer garden of Cerveceria Artesanal Pirca.
I couldn’t think of a better way to spend one last day with Ian and Paul than walking around Mendoza drinking wine and beer, and eating empanadas and steaks. I don’t even remember how long we’ve been traveling together now, two weeks, or three. From riding at over 16,000ft in Bolivia passing herds of llamas and flamencos, wiping out on sandy roads, riding over mudslides on the highway, camping out under the stars, to enjoying the best steaks and wines in Argentina. Buen viaje, amigos!