Thursday, April 21, 2016

Mendoza - A week of Malbec

Mendoza is a town in the middle of one of Argentina's most famous wine regions - in particular it is known for its Malbec, however there are plenty of other varieties produced too.
The wineries are easily reached by public transport - although there are plenty of overpriced tours available too.

There are two main areas with accessible wineries: Maipú and Coquimbito.

A tram ride to the end of the line gets you to Maipú and the Bodega Lopez is around 300 metres from the station.

Mendoza's Trams

Bodega Lopez runs free tours and basic tastings (there are also premium tastings for $Ars100 - approximately $A9). The tour shows people around the winery and explains tge history of the winery.

Stainless steel fermentation tanks

Oak barrels for ageing the wine

The big oak casks are for the Malbec

The bodega also has a very good restaurant that offers a three course set degustation with matching wines for $ARS420 (around $38).

Another delicious Argentinean steak

Also within walking distance in Maipú there is Bodega Giol which offers a wine tasting for $Ars70 (about $A6). 

Wine tasting

There are also other wineries accessible by collectivo from Maipú but sadly I spent so much time in Bodega Lopez (the wines were pretty amazing) that I ran out of time to visit them.

The other region that is easily reachable from Mendoza is Coquimbito. The No.10 172 or 173 collectivo both go to Coquimbito from Mendoza.

The best way of getting around Coquimbito is by pushbike and the town has built a 2km bike track along the main road to enable tourists to travel easily (and reasonably safely) to the wineries that are on side roads off the main Street.

There are many excellent boutique wineries along the route offering tastings and several larger wineries including the famous Trapiche winery.

The restored winery building

The bodega is built on the site of an old "Italian" winery and they have restored the old buildings to their former glory (for functions, etc). As with Bodega Lopez, Trapiche offers a tour and tasting. However the "tasting" of four premium wines is not free - $Ars100 ($A9) - but as with all paid "tastings" in Mendoza what they really mean is full glasses of wine (yes, not great on the bike).

As with Bodega Lopez, the tour gives the history of the winery and explains the production.

The Trapiche barrel room - with two concrete fermentation casks in the foreground

After the tour the wine tasting is conducted on their terrace - which has rather a nice view.

View from the terrace

Of course after drinking so much excellent wine one needs to cleanse the palate, and helpfully there is a craft brewery around the corner.

Stopping for a quiet Pale Ale

Thankfully it's only a short ride back to the main Street and the relative safety of the bike track...

In addition to the wine, Mendoza offers some other pursuits around the city to give a break from all the wine. 

Parque General San Martín is a huge park and recreation area just on the outskirts of the city. 

The ornate park gates

In the middle of the park is an artificial lake in which the local rowing team practice.

The lake in Parque General San Martín

Further into the park (about 7km) is Cerro de la Gloria. The hill is a popular hike with a monument to The Army of the Andes which was mobilised here by General San Martín before his trek over the Andes to liberate Chile.

The monument to the Army of the Andes

The hike up the hill is steep but relatively short and there is a reasonably priced kiosko at the top which serves very cheap cold beers (perfect after a hike).
From the top there are also several lookouts over the city of Mendoza.

Mendoza from Cerro de la Gloria

Mendoza with the foothills of the Andes in the distance

The view towards the Andes

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