From family winery to mountain view vineyard.

Trip Start Mar 07, 2013
Trip End Mar 25, 2013

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Where I stayed
Club Tapiz Hotel

Flag of Argentina  , Cuyo,
Monday, March 11, 2013

After breakfast of jamon and cheese, yogurt, toast with all sorts of marmalade, our group of 14 board the comfy bus. Of our gang, 3 or so are very new to wine. The idea of tasting wine at 10 am brought surprised looks. Discussion follows about the benefits of fresh taste buds in the morning being key to wine judges and wine makers
The concept is easier to adapt to on arrival at our first bodega. We meet one of two brothers at Bodega Familia Bonfanti. These two are the 4th generation to run the winery. To begin, Alejandro leads us into the vineyard, between rows of Malbec to stand in the welcoming shade of an eighty year old olive tree. He describes the growing of the grapes and pull grapes off of bunches hanging nearby for us to taste. He also crushes the grape skin inthe palm of his hand, and the magical red hue that is released hints of flavors to come. After these flavors in the vineyard, the tasting that follows in the winery is easy to enjoy. This truly is a family bodega, with everything done by the brothers, their mother and father.
Our next winery stop is a complete contrast. Across the valley we arrive at Belasco de Baquedano. A large facility with tasting room, multiple floors of tanks and barrel rooms and the really amazing Hall of Aromas. In this room are vertical plexiglass tubes about 40" high and 6" across. The lid of each one has holes in it. On the wall above each one, all around the room, is a descriptor if what sent is in the tube. It is a great exercise for all to go from one to another to sniff and guess through floral scents, fruit scents and even wine faults. Leaving this room, we are lead to a private tasting room with huge windows looking over the vineyards. This interesting tasting starts with a floral Torrontes made with fruit from north in Salta. Then things get very interesting with 3 different Malbecs, all from this winery. First is a what is called a "young wine" meaning it is made in tank, and meant to be drunk sooner. Then two more each kept in oak longer and carrying inkier color and denser flavors. For the first day full of tastings before lunch, the group is enthusiastically discussing the similarities and contrasts in the glass, beginner and expert wine lovers alike.
After such a morning, our lunch stop still manages to take our breath away. Bodega Ruca Malen is located closer to the Andes. On arrival we are lead to a open-air cabana with white cloth covered tabled and 5 wine glasses at each place setting. We are here for a 5 course meal paired with each dish. The flavors of the small bites in the courses dance wonderfully with each wine. The chef comes out with each one, to help serve and talk about the creations. With dessert it is time to sing happy birthday to Duke who says this is the BEST birthday he has had.
When this astounding meal is finished and we ride back to Club Tapiz to swim and relax, the lunch is still the topic of conversation. Our entry into Mendoza and Maipu wine tasting has been a great one.
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