Holidays and Other Excursions

Tag: Mendoza

South America – 3 – Argentina – Mendoza

Thursday 30 November 2017

A different bed so we do not sleep perfectly and we are up and about for a busy day.  Our protest over morning wine tasting has achieved nothing and we head out of town for a 30 minute drive to the Matervini winery.  Whilst a young winery it has vines going back to 1938 and the owner has a history of producing some very high quality Malbec – and when he sold the original winery he retained ownership of the older vines as part of the new winery.  The best wine we taste is US$90 per bottle and the volumes are such that they only sell direct from the estate.  They also hope to be eco-friendly and take steps to utilise solar generated energy.

The other winery we visit has Chilean owners but they have huge Italian heritage with the estate modelled on a Tuscan style.  This is the Renacer winery.  It is working towards much higher volumes than Matervini and buys in grapes from local growers to achieve those volumes.  A very different approach and using blending of wines at the final stages to achieve some consistency.  The grapes used in both cases come not just from close to Mendoza but also from the Yuco valley and from other locations with only the top wine from the Matervini bodega being an estate wine.  Renacer are also experimenting with a Chardonnay!

Photos of the morning tour are here.

We return to Mendoza for a break and a sandwich before the afternoon city tour.  In reality Mendoza is a working city with agriculture not the main industry – that is oil.  And olives are as important as wine to the local economy apparently.  Mendoza is the fourth largest city in Argentina and there is nothing of great age as earlier buildings were all destroyed by an earthquake in 1861.  Experts were brought into prevent another similar disaster and the older part of town featured a main square and four lesser squares set apart by a few blocks to allow people to be in the open in the event of another major earthquake.  Additionally the city was protected by a huge park to prevent rock slides into the city itself from the edges of the hills.

Our tour ends at the top of the San Martin park where there is a monument at Glory Hill to the Army of the Andes which was led by San Martin and achieved the independence of Chile and with other forces achieved independence for Peru.  Although a revolutionary leader San Martin was often at odds with his fellow freedom fighters as he wanted to install local monarchies – his fellow revolutionaries generally sought presidential led republics.  There is no arguing with his resolve in achieving independence for three countries (Argentina coming before Chile and the Army of the Andes with Peru later).  General José San Martin had a busy life – reading that linked entry tells a complex but compelling story – he bestrode the continent in the first half of the nineteenth century like a colossus!

The afternoon tour photos are here.

As with Santiago we have a good guide looking after us – knowledgeable and informative.  His dinner recommendation leads to perhaps the least exciting meal of the holiday – but who knows, we might have chosen the wrong food!

It has been sunny and warm today.  We managed a couple of hours in the sun when we get back to the hotel before dinner.  Time to move on again!

South America – 2 – Argentina – Mendoza

Wednesday 29 November 2017

Wednesday afternoon is spent hopping over the Andes to Mendoza.  This could have been an 8 hour bus journey at one stage of planning this holiday but the flight is under an hour, mainly spent going up and then down as the distance between the two cities is not huge – merely the Andes are in the way.

I drop off to sleep before take off and wake up about half way through the flight.  We had originally been seated separately but Jackie’s neighbour had moved so I was able to occupy the empty seat.  With some turbulence seat belt signs are on and so there is great need for the toilet on landing.  The queue for the passport check more than quadruples by the time we emerge from the toilets but the delay is not of “Luton” type lengths.  The taxi driver taking us to the hotel cannot speak English and luckily it is only a short drive into town – although the road feels surprisingly rough (oddly no more poor roads experienced in our later local journeys)!

Park Hyatt Hotel Mendoza is a modern corporate hotel and lacks the charm and style of the hotel in Santiago which was very nice.  It is not helped by an apparent belief when we arrive that there is no room booked for us and no real acknowledgement that they might be in the wrong – even when it turns out that they have booked someone else into our room (allegedly with my first name – how about checking surnames seeing that everywhere takes a copy of the passport? – even more amazed that another visitor has the same first name!).  Having settled in we check the hotel dining options – and decide on the rather nice Grill Q – Parilla for a little later.

First we need some cash and think the casino might be able to change pounds into local Pesos (it was impossible to obtain Pesos at home).  No – they can only really change dollars and if they must then they might change Euros.  When did sterling cease to be important?  We attempt to use the adjacent cash point but that seems to want a passport number, so as there is no urgent need we abandon the cash hunt for now.

We partake of a drink sitting in the evening sun, Jackie is getting attached to Pisco Sours to start the evening and I am drinking local red beer as it seems to be most acceptable .  We decide on eating a plate of parilla (sometimes known as Asado) which is served for two people.  It is an enhanced mixed grill consisting of two different steaks, short ribs, black pudding (in a sausage shape), a sausage, and a huge piece of chicken, some kidneys, all barbecue grilled exactly right.  With all that meat a bottle of locally sourced Malbec seemed appropriate.  We did order some vegetables but these were not the high point of the kitchen’s ability!

Time for bed.