3000 metres up, 3000 metres down, the Andes can be beautiful if not a little troubling. After being at the beach, we set off to visit the local bodegas by bike, while enjoying the picturesque surrounding of the Andes. Simple enough; catch the bus to Maipu and away you go. So it seemed anyway. Knowing better as we always do, we got the bus to Maipu Central, however, Maipu Central is an entriely different place from the wine region, damn wrong bus again. Oh well, we decided to make the most of the situation and decided to visit the wineries we saw from out the bus window by foot.
For once we got a stroke of luck and ended up at Argentina’s oldest winery (and the original home of Argentina’s finest box wine, Vino Torro) as our first stop. No longer a funtioning winery, Vino Torro only provides grapes for other brands, they do however, run a first class wine mueso. The bored looking attendant was so happy to see us and to practice her English, she provided us with a tasting (full glasses) of 7 different wines from the region, $5 pesos, our mistake had turned into a truimph and it wasn’t even lunch time. After some advice from the museo staff and some photos with the mascot we were off the winery number two, the classy Bodega Lopez.
This winery offered a more up market experience with amazing grounds and the most over dressed staff you’re likely to meet, after one look at us we were offered the free tasting. We decided on the $25 peso tasting of their three finest reds. The waitress a little shocked brought us our drinks, left the tasting notes and put us in a corner at the end of the bar. This tasting came with a cheese and nut plater that included something as rare as gold in Argentina, good cheese. Sadly for Rach, I got the only piece of Cheddar. I´ve since been told this is the only thing she will hold against me forever, it was worth it. After passing our professional opinion on the wines; two very tasty and one that had a hint of paddock, we were in dire need of the baño. This was an unlikely highlight, we were told to go downstairs where we promptly got lost and enjoyed an unoffical tour of the winery, that included photos with giant wine bottles. Once discovered, we were politely showen the way to the toilets which we were pleased to find were in fact the finest toilets in all of South America (to date), you could even flush your paper, what a treat!
With the first two wineries out of the way we were feeling a little more merry than intended for so early in the day, so it was off to the local shops for a hotdog. On arrival we were greeted by a cheery chap who turns out had lost his job just that moment, we were asked to join him for a beer with lunch, why not. After three more beers and a few hotdogs the whole shop was enjoying chatting to their new NZ friends. The wine from the morning made this our most successful spanish conversation to date. (Rach was quite a hit with the rambling old man in the corner, still got it).
Lunch out of the way the final stop for the day was Baudron Bodega was our last stop. We arrived to find noone around so took the time to take photos on a tractor we found (20 points in tractor factor). A further search found us in a room clearly being prepared for a large tour group, after the initial shock of seeing us, the pleasant staff took the time to offer a free tasting and empanadas to accompany the wine. As the group arrived we were ushered into the street to end a very eventful and enjoyable day that went wrong.
The rest of our time in town was spent enjoying the local wines in restaurants and a bottle in the park, entertained by local market folk and a breakdancing father.
Next stop Cordoba, a city that both of us decided we could comfortably live in. On our only night in town we meet three delightful gents from southern Brasil who entertained us with stories from their previous night out. The best of which was their trip home where Ricardo decided to give a loveable stray a hug only to be bitten on the hand to the delight of his two friends. After a good night and a few less drinks than Mendoza we booked our bus for Igauzu Falls.
Next stop Igauzu and then Brasil.
Author: Stephen Bird