Our love of red wine is so absolute that our South American trip wouldn’t have been complete without a visit to Malbec country.
After biking around Australia’s Hunter Valley, a tour of Mendoza’s wineries felt a little bit rough and ready in comparison. Think bumpy roads, stray dogs and exhaust fumes.
We also covered far more ground than in the Hunter, where you can visit 5 cellar doors within a few kilometres of each other. We probably covered 30KMs this time around the Maipu area, the closest vineyards to Mendoza city (£10 in a taxi).
Biking around is the transport of choice, and local legend Mr Hugo is who you get them from.
How he keeps a beaming grin on his face whilst dealing with hammered westerners on a daily basis is beyond us, but he and his equally amazing wife Norma were such warm, lovely people, despite us barely being able to communicate with them, returning our bikes late and more than a little bit worse for wear!
We visited 4 wineries during the day; unlike the Hunter, all charged for tasting (around £3-5 a time), and most insisted on a tour, which is great the first time but unnecessary thereafter.
Bodega Domiciano‘s tour of their vineyard, giant wine vats and underground oak barrels was well worth an hour of our time.
We stuck mainly to small winemakers. The wine was uniformally great, as you’d expect.
One of the bigger producers – Trapiche – rubbed us up the wrong way with its security guards on the entrance and an insistence on a factory tour, so we meandered on to a smaller winery nearby.
Our day though will be remembered for our encounters with two very contrasting sets of Americans.
First – a Californian couple in their 70s with a comical ignorance of the world around them.
Highlights included asking us whether Brexit means we’ll have to go back to our old money, whether our home town of Birmingham is where the Beatles came from and a spurious and offensive comment about the number of Muslims in the UK.
Throw in a few inappropriate sexist slurs from the husband and we left while our tongues were still bitten.
Then, we bumped into Rebekah, Sarah and Suzie and our faith in Big Sam was restored!
Three fabulous, intelligent, witty American ladies who we spent most of the afternoon with getting increasingly sloshed. The bike ride back to Mr Hugo’s included being flanked by special tourist police who stop pissed foreigners veering into oncoming traffic!
We spent the evening with our new mates as well, and we’ll definitely be seeing them again in San Diego and Chicago when we head to the States.
So, once again and with so many other experiences during our trip so far, the people we shared it with made it for us. Salut!