Feb. 5, 2015, Though the high temperature of the day may have been 89 F, the day was pleasant as long as you stay out of direct sun. There was rain in the mountains but not in town.
A vacation is when you are in a really interesting place but you do NOT feel that you have to get up and rush out to visit six places in order to take full advantage of the visit. We had a leisurely morning, visited a winery, prided ourselves on returning home relatively rapidly on a desirable route, having a delicious dinner (lamb cutlets, sauteed leeks with chopped green olives, delicious Argentine wine), and a stroll around the neighborhood for ice cream. Does life get better than that?
Having been out late, we slept in and then went to the main Mendoza market. We found that this is not a market that sustains the city, but a market for people having lunch and for tourists. The street, Las Heras, is also for tourists, full of travel agencies and souvenir stores. Since we didn’t need a mate cup, silver straw, blankets, ponchos or other items, we looked but purchased little–some olive oil and fruit. We decided against taking the “Wine Bus” Bus Viniviticola. While it would save us driving, we would have to be ready for pickup at 8am at a nearby hotel. By sleeping late we would be able to go out for a winery visit at 2 pm, but only one winery. In that case, we decided to take the car. We ran out of phone time in the middle of trying to get a reservation to visit Norton winery, so among our errands was to top up the phone.
After lunch back at the apartment, we set off for Achaval Ferrer, a winery we’d heard of that seemed to not be very picky about reservations, and we could not find a phone number for them. We arrived around 3 pm, and were greeted cordially. They had both English and Spanish tours about to begin, and we joined the English group. A couple from Boston were there with friends from London, all very pleasant. Our guide, Cecelia, spoke English pretty well and was very knowledgeable about the vineyard. Unlike some others, Acheval Ferrer was begun by a consortium of 5 people who purchased existing vineyards and rehabilitated or reoriented their production. They own vineyards in three different zones, the area east of Lujan de Cuyo, the area we visited in Lujan de Cuyo and a slightly higher altitude vineyard that also is affected by volcanic ash. Most of their production is Malbec and we tasted a malbec from each of the three vineyards, two from barrels (pre-bottling–the wines age 12 months in bottles), one malbec blend.
What we tasted:
Quimera-blend of 40% malbec with varying amounts each year of Cabernet sauvignon, Syrah, Cabernet franc and Petit Verdot
They bottle a small amount of each of the varietals that go into the Quimera and sell those separately. After telling us how exceptional the Cabernet Franc was, she noted that it was sold out.
Malbec Altamira, from the barrel, lots of tannin,
Malbec Bellavista from the bottle
Malbec Mirador, from the barrel, lots of tannins
All of the wines were quite expensive compared to what we have had in Mendoza, from 350 to 1300 pesos per bottle or more.