We arrived in Mendoza at 2:30am in the morning, after an original arrival time of 7pm. Yeah Argentinean airlines are just as bad as the US airlines. Luckily Javier our guide and driver was waiting for us, what a guy!
We pulled into our hotel Casa Glebinas which was really a small estate. Roberto the owner was waiting for us. Roberto is a retired scientist; he is a specialist of examining glacier core samples to gain information about historical temperature changes and atmospheric conditions.
He bought an estate in a nice neighborhood and has built four beautiful bungalows. Our room was amazing, see pics below. All built with reclaimed wood, doors and windows. The grounds are absolutely beautiful.
Each morning Roberto’s wife goes to the local bakery and picks up fresh pastries and sets them inside your room, check the pics below again. There is no way any two people can eat that much food in one sitting. We hit the ground running the next morning, well maybe crawling is a better way to describe it.
Javier picked us up and we headed towards our first winery. As we drove he explained that Mendoza is really a desert and that the local river is diverted into aqueducts all over the city. The irrigation department works to channel water to different areas of the city so grass, trees and vineyards will grow. All the trees in Mendoza were transplanted from other parts of the region and the world. All the wineries in Mendoza have the Andes as a beautiful backdrop to the vineyards.
We started with Salentin one of the better wineries in the Uco Valley. The Malbec (translated as “bad mouth”) grape was originally thought to be a wine that was unpalatable until it was grown in Mendoza where the perfect combination of soil and climate created this area’s premier red wine. The winery was beautiful, the wine was really good and they had a really nice art gallery. Javier held us back after the regular tour finished as he got us some tastes of some of Salentin’s premium wines.
Next stop was La Azul, a “garage wine” in Javier’s terms, what we would call a boutique winery. Here we got to taste some more great reds and once again after the normal tour left Javier got the winemaker to let us taste their premier malbec right from the oak barrels. It helps to have a really good guide.
Then it was off to a small winery for a really great lunch. We had really taken our time so by the time we hit lunch it was almost 3pm; fat and happy we decided to forgo more wineries and go back for a short siesta before dinner. Most Argentineans don’t even think about eating dinner until 9pm and our dinner was planned for our second “closed door” restaurant.
We arrived early in downtown Mendoza to do a little shopping before dinner. Trying to find the “closed door” restaurant can sometimes biggest challenge. We knew we were close as four Chilean diners arrived with us. Finally Martin the proprietor and chef came down to rescue us.
The dinner was in his apartment was cooked by Martin and served by another Martin, three Martins in one room was a first for me. It ended up being Lou and myself and six Chilean tourists on holiday. Martin number two began to serve us a truly authentic Mendozian menu.
Los Chocos Menu – www.loschocosweb.blogspot.com
(Six Course Dining Experience)
- Home made goat pate, black olives marinated in garlic paste and bitter greens over a small flat biscuit.
- Mendocinian Empanada
- Tapa from Cuyo: Braised butternut squash in “jarilla” butter, fresh goat cheese with citric notes and onion marmalade in Malbec served over a crunchy “ sopaipilla”.
- Tomatican: Burnt tomatoes topped with Leek Confit, black sausage paste (which is congealed pig’s blood), “Pepato” grating cheese and poached egg yolk .
- Goat Roll slowly cooked with sweet potatoes puree, dried pears rehydrated in Arauco olive oil and green leaves with Torrontés wine sauce.
- “Algarroba” moist cake, burnt fruit and creamy Cedron sauce.
- Coffee and a wide national and international tea selection with petit fours.
The evening was a real cultural experience as Lou and I were the only ones who did not speak Spanish. The Chilean group was very nice and stopped often to translate the conversation into English.
They told us about the chilling experience of living through one of the strongest earthquakes ever recorded. The earth shook for almost 3 minutes, they said the noise was deafening and their children terrified. Maria Pass said that she thought they were her last moments on earth.
This group was all disappointed in their president’s response, see the earthquake happened just before a new president was about to be inagurated. The old president was trying to show how self sufficient Chile is so she denied any international support and then ignored a tusnami warning that came from the Hawaian islands. So no warning was given to the people and many more died because of her bravado.
By the end of the night we were all friends, had a wonderful meal and were looking for a wheelbarrow to roll us home. What a day and a night!