Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Wine Tasting in Maipú (Mendoza)
I didn't really have any fear about taking the night bus last night from Buenos Aires to Mendoza. With past experience taking the bus in Chile and Peru, I knew that it was a totally different story from Ecuador, and I did not expect my experience to be replicated in Argentina. The worst thing I was looking at was the length of the trip. as 14 hours can drag on and on, especially if you can't sleep.
When Kristine and I got to the terminal for our "7:20 pm" bus we discovered that it was really leaving at 7, and we had made it just in time. Things moved more smoothly here, with actual security checking bags with a metal detector before getting on the bus, and we took off promptly. The bus was nearly empty, and aside from a few other stops to pick up a passenger or two, we had the top floor almost entirely to ourselves. We sat in shock at how luxurious the bus was, with plus, comfy seats that reclined far back. With a front row view, it was like watching an IMAX as we moved out in the dark to the west.
After a lousy movie and a dinner of fried country steak, some other sides, and 3 servings of cheap wine in a Styrofoam cup, the lights were turned off. At first we both fell asleep easily, but even being in the higher class doesn't change the fact that you're on a bus. You hit bumps, make sudden jolts, and have street lights coming into your face. Around 4 am we discovered that we could extend the seats all the way to a 180* angle, and from then on we slept a little better, though we were cold and under dressed. We were surprised to be woken up for breakfast and quickly there after arriving in Mendoza. It was the quickest 14 hour bus trip ever. We actually got in a little early.
The travel agency I work for arranged a taxi to pick us up and take us to Club Tapiz, the hotel we are staying in tonight in the small town just outside of Mendoza called Maipú. Maipú is known for its many wine vineyards and olive oil factories. We showered and changed, checked out the grounds, and then headed out in complimentary bikes from the hotel to tour some of the vineyards.
Together we biked around 10 kilometers, stopping along the side of the road for some cheap ham sandwiches and olives. The people were very friendly, and after talking to them for a bit they offered us some wine for free and gave us a discount on the food, giving us the olives for practically nothing. It was cold and overcast, but the day was going great so far.
Continuing on we went to the first vineyard recommended to us, Carinae. Carinae is a French influenced wine that is rich in taste, but isn't generally available in the United States. After a short tour for 15 pesos we sampled three types of wine and moved across the street to the Olivicola Laur, an olive oil company where 10 pesos got us a short 10 minute tour and then a large plate of bread with different types of olive oil and condiments.
We were tired but continued on to Familia di Tommasso, the oldest vineyard in the area. There for 10 pesos we had a tour of the facilities and were given four samples of different kinds of wine. We liked the Malbec so much that we got our own bottle for 18 pesos and will enjoy it tonight from the jacuzzi in the hotel. Tomorrow we'll be moving on to more vineyards and a different hotel, then getting ready to leave Mendoza for the mountains of Córdoba.
Above: Touring wine vineyards in Maipú