Wednesday Feb. 4, 2015, 32 C (89F) It doesn’t feel as hot as 89, probably because it was overcast most of the day.
We decided to visit the thermal springs in Cacheute, outside Mendoza. When we arrived around noon, the place was packed with hundreds of cars and people. After a walk around to look at the situation we decided this was not what we wanted to do, so we cruised back toward Lujan de Cuyo and I called to see whether we could get a tasting at Chandon. They don’t answer their phone, butI was able to contact their neighbor, Dolium.

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After only getting lost for a little while we arrived at Dolium and met Ricardo, the owner, son of the original builder of the winery. It’s distinction is that the facility is completely underground, or rather 2 meters deep and then built and covered with earth for passive cooling. There is a visitor center and tasting area above ground. It’s a small vineyard with small production, fewer than 10,000 cases per year.

Ricardo is very instruction-oriented, his first goal with visitors is to teach them to spit the wine out so that you can taste it without getting sloshed. We started out doing that, so saved him a lesson and got on his good list. We tasted two rose de Malbec, two cabernet sauvignons and three malbecs, a malbec reserve and a petit reserve (a smaller more select wine) and a late harvest Malbec that was excellent, even though I don’t usually like the sweetness of late harvest wines. This one had a big fruity flavor and sweetness but was not cloying. Ricardo pointed out that it has less sugar than most late harvest wines, and that may explain the difference. It proved a long afternoon, as we were at the winery from about 3:30 to 5:30pm, then took San Martin all the way home—the slow route in a straight line cross country.

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We put our feet up for an hour and went to meet Tom and Sue for dinner. We ate at Azafran, just around the corner from their hotel, the Diplomat. They are from Ohio, ran a health food store for a long time and are on an adventure even more extensive than ours. We chatted about wine and travel, it made a lovely evening. The problem is staying up for a while after eating a late dinner.

Wines tasted:
Rose de Malbec (2) This was to show contrast between years within a single area. One was more mineral-scented than the other, with different flaors
Cabernet Sauvignon (2) The contrast between these two bottles was even greater. One was more brick red, with caramel/vanilla scents, the other purple red with herbal notes.
Malbec (2) Again, the contrast was notable. The bottle from 2003 was funky, cheese/moss scents, something that would go with mushrooms. The bottle from 2012 was fruity in scent, though not in flavor.
Tempranillo. This was tempranillo with a small amount of sauvignon blanc intentionally to add a spicy flavor, which it did, almost a clove scent and peppery. Ricardo serves this at lunch with salami, and when we were interested, he sent us down the road to the guy he buys his salami from. We saw a row of salamis and hams air drying, and the pigs about to be roasted. In 25 wood fired ovens, this farmer can roast 100 hundred pigs. I wondered what holiday would call for 100 roast baby pigs. The two going in to the oven looked to be about 15-18 lb each.

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Malbec Petit Reserva. This 2011 wine has a short life. Ricardo pointed out the marmalade scent, caramel notes bordering on sherry-like. This means that despite its recent harvest, this wine is not going to last more than a couple more years. He doesn’t know why.
Late harvest Malbec. Delicious, see above.