Dan and I had been looking forward to our week in Mendoza for a really long time. We had decided back in Sucre to book ourselves a proper treat week, staying in a really nice Airbnb and sampling all of the great food and wine this vibrant city has to offer. The Airbnb we stayed in was a wonderful little maisonette apartment in a lovely quiet neighbourbood just outside of the town centre, complete with air conditoning, a fully equipped kitchen and – best of all – a fully stocked wine fridge!
The city of Mendoza itself really is fantastic. Every single street is lined with luscious, leafy green trees along with great shops, restaurants, cafes and bars, and the whole city is always buzzing with people out and about meeting friends, drinking coffee and wandering around the numerous parks and plazas. One park that is meant to be particularly impressive is Parque General San Martin, which luckily for us was only a 10 minute walk from our Airbnb. Unfortunately on the day of our visit there was a lot of construction going on around the park so many of the paths and walkways had been dug up or diverted, but we could see that on a normal day it would be a lovely place to wander around, enjoy the sunshine and maybe even take a picnic.
Naturally we had planned a list of restaurants that we wanted to visit ahead of time, so most of the week was basically spent trying them all! One day we visited Azafran, a restaurant that was recommended to us by a fellow traveler we met in La Paz where you can get an incredible set lunch menu for only £20 per person. This menu included 4 courses of the most delicious food – steak followed by dulce de leche creme brulee, anyone? – and a drink of our choice. However, it turned out that Azafran has its very own sommelier, so of course we had to choose a bottle of wine to go with lunch. Even then the whole thing including tip only set us back £60, so if you’re ever in Mendoza it is definitely a restaurant worth visiting.
We had another couple of restaurant recommendations from Belinda and Keith, our friends from the Galapagos. One was El Mercadito Friendly and Fresh where we went another day for lunch and had really tasty sandwiches – mine even contained brie which felt like the ultimate treat! The second was El Patio Jesus Maria, where we shared a kilo of steak between us along with vegetable kebabs which, true to Argentinian form, had lumps of steak wedged between each vegetable.
Of course, we couldn’t leave Mendoza without going on a wine tour. After doing some research we decided to go on a tour of the Uco Valley with Trout and Wine, one of the most highly rated companies in the region. On the day of the tour we were picked up at 8.30 by our guide, Ricardo, and the driver Marcelo, before heading out to the first of the 3 wineries we would be visiting that day. During the journey Ricardo told us all about the history of wine production in the region and how Argentina came to be a major world wine destination.
The first bodega on the agenda was Pulenta, where we were given a welcome glass of white wine before the tour even started – at 10am! We were then shown around the winery and told all about the production process there, as well as learning a bit about the owners – it turns out Pulenta is owned by a pair of brothers who are also really into racing cars, and there are even some car engines out on display there. After the tour we had the wine tasting where we tried our first ever Cabernet Franc, another favourite of the region.
After Pulenta we moved on to La Azul, a small and intimate winery where we sat out on sofas in the sunshine for our wine tasting. We enjoyed the wine there so much that we decided to buy a bottle to take with us, and would have bought more than one if we had room to carry them.
Our last stop was Andeluna, where we were treated to a stunning 6 course lunch with paired wines – and they weren’t stingy with the wine either, coming round to refill our glasses whenever they were empty! In the end our 6 courses turned into 7 as one of our tour buddies was celebrating his 67th birthday, so we got to have some tasty birthday cake to go with our dessert wine.
At the end of lunch we were all suitably sozzled, and I dozed off for basically the whole drive back to town. It was a really wonderful day and we would do it all again in a heartbeat, so if you’re ever in Mendoza and fancy doing a wine tour you should definitely go with Trout and Wine.
That night after our afternoon siestas we got together with the rest of our tour group for drinks. We were lucky enough to have met some really great people that day and we had so much fun in the evening chatting and swapping travel stories. Of course, going for drinks in the evening after a full day of wine tasting meant that Dan and I had pretty sore heads the next day. It was totally worth it though – we so enjoyed our day of wine tasting and our whole week in Mendoza, and we felt quite sad when it came time to leave. However, we had something big to look forward to: it was time to head to Chile to meet Jane and Steve!