We couldn’t come to Argentina and not taste the wines of Mendoza, so we booked a tour to visit 4 wineries in the sub region of Luján de Cuyo. It ended up being a private tour as it was only the 2 of us, a very good guide and our driver.
It was really interesting to understand the history of the city and the evolution of the winemaking process. The region is a desert. The Mendoza river formed in the very near Andes range has been used for ages for irrigation. The Incas had taught this technique to the local nomad populations so they could settle and create a new city. By the way, the highest peak of the whole America continent, the Aconcagua (6 959 m), is very close to Mendoza.
At the beginning, the production was done for high volumes and with law quality. The local population was drinking a lot of wine as, mixed with the water, it was used to kill the bacteria. It seems that even children were given water with wine! It was called the Vino de Mesa (table wine).
Today, habits have changed, less Argentinian drink wine and when they do they want good ones! Also a huge part of the production is exported which requires better quality too. The production process has changed a lot! Grapes are selected before being smashed and sent to epoxy-protected fermentation tanks. In the past the tanks were just made of ciment. Depending on the type and the desired quality, the wine will directly be bottled or kept in barils for 6, 12 or 18 more months. The barils are purchased from either Europe or USA, and the flavors between the 2 are really different.
The huge variations between the “New World” (USA, Chile, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa) and the “Old World” (Europe) are:
– the fact that the vineyards can be irrigated in the New World. It is forbidden in the Old World and this explains why we have Millésimes which depend on the weather conditions of each year.
– the fact that in the New World a lot of blending are done to reach the flavors that are thought to be appreciated by the customers when in the Old World wineries have to respect the traditional style of each wine and it’s not always allowed to “fix” a wine by blending it.
So, during our tour we had a wonderful tasting pairing with food, we sampled wine directly out of a fermentation tank, we prepared our own blend and left with our very own bottle (“La Cuvée de Marie”, a subtle blend of Petite Verdot 2017 and Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 of which I will keep the proportions secret!), we had a superb lunch with no less than 6 different wines and we finished the day a little bit tired in a very peaceful and beautiful winery.
We have discovered Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Bonarda and blends for the reds. Chardonnay, Semillon and Sauvignon blanc for the whites. And Malbec rosé.
What a delicious day!