Another day of rain, but no worries about the weather for us. Mendoza is malbec country, and we had signed on for an all day, four vineyard plus lunch tour by Trout And Wine Tours. Since we were staying in Chacras de Coria, south of Mendoza and on the northern end of the wine country, we were the last of the 8 guests to be picked up in the morning.
Our first stop was Alta Vista Vineyards, right in Chacras de Coria. At Alta Vista we were treated to a complete winery tour including the fermenting vats, barrels, and storage areas. The winemaker/guide at Alta Vista explained some of the reasons that the local industry is on edge for the 2014 vintage. It has been a warmer than usual growing season, sometimes with temperatures in the low 40s C, and lately they have had much more rain than usual.
The day of our tour was the second day of rain in a row. The week before, they had three days of rain where they measured as much rain in those three days as they usually get in one month, and now they were getting more. The harvest season is just around the corner and the wine makers and growers are all concerned about the grapes.
The informative tour was followed by the tasting. We sampled three wines; a sauvignon blanc, a malbec and a cabernet blend. My favorite was the 2009 Alta Vista Alto that sold for 650 Argentine Pesos or about US $65. The best vintages for Alta Vista we were told were 2005 and 2006. The day before at Clos de Chacras we were also told that 2005 was a very good year.
Our second stop on the tour was Catena Zapata, established 1902, and still in the same family. The winery was built to resemble a Mayan Temple on the exterior and very beautiful on the interior. The tour started with a short video about the property and the family, and included a trip to the top of the pyramid. On a clear day you would have a very good view of the Andes, but not today. Our guide at Catena Zapata was the most helpful and came across as very knowledgeable about the wines and tasting. We tasted 4 wines: a chardonnay, a cabernet, a 2010 malbec and a 2009 Angelina Zapata. I liked the 2010 malbec that sold for about $40.
At our third stop, Finca Decero, we had lunch. Another beautiful property, we did not tour the facilities but were ushered up to our lunch table and served four wine tastes with lunch. The food was stellar, but I can remember only one wine, the syrah. For lunch I had a corn textures appetizer, beetroot pasta filled with goat cheese and herbs, black olives and lemon dressing, and pistachios, and for dessert a lavender crème brulee, biscotti and chocolate truffle. In all honesty, I could have stopped at this point, but we had one more winery on the tour.
Our last stop was the Vina Cobos Winery. We tasted four wines; a 2013 Felino chardonnay, a cocodrilo, a 2011 Bramare Appellation malbec ($21) and a 2011 Bramare Marchiori Vineyard (single vineyard) malbec (US $43/bottle.) The last one was my favorite.
My sister who has done many more tastings in many more countries than I asked all the questions and discovered that the wine industry in Argentina is less regulated than in France. This did not surprise us, as the laws in Argentina seemed to be treated more like guidelines in other areas as well, particularly where it comes to crosswalks and stopping for pedestrians. I felt like I learned a few things about tasting, tannins, where in your mouth you taste things, the wine’s finish, etc. I also know that you like what you like. It was a fun day.
You would think that being driven around all day tasting wine and eating great food wouldn’t be tiring, but at the end of an 8 hour day and about 16 samples, we were exhausted. Too full and tired to even go out for dinner, we called it a day, our last day, in Mendoza.