Yesterday, as promised to ourselves, we made the bike and wine self guided tour, arriving at the shop by 10 am. Nico welcomed us warmly in perfect English and perfect Spanish. He grew up in Maryland, son of a US dad and Argentine mom. Because he sees so few tourists from the US, he gave us a discount on the bike rental.
The bikes were comfortable, for me anyway. Charlie has tender nalgas. No comment about mine. It’s always when I’m writing that I think, I should have gotten a photo! In this case, of the bikes lined up; of Nico; of Charlie on the bicycle. This is something I must improve.
It was interesting to ride bikes on the same street we walked the day before. This is the street with the opulent homes – photos I posted earlier. Kind of a deja vu moment, only without the mystery.
The roads we traveled for the wine tour were pretty well trafficked. Not in line with my vision of bucolic, quiet and breezy country roads. Didn’t matter. It felt good to be rolling along instead of walking for a change.
Our first stop was to an olive oil producing facility, Pasrai. Argentina is the largest producer of olive oil in the Americas and the eighth largest in the world. Most of it is virgin or extra virgin. Our guide informed us that the virgen, EVOO, or just plain olive oil versions have to do with acidity and therefore taste. The lower the acidity, the better the olive oil. Look for between .01 and .08. If that is even listed on the label.
Did you know that you can become certified as an Olive Oil Sommerlier? The International Culinary Center has a course this May 13-18 in New York. The January 20-25 course in London sold out. How much might this cost, I wondered. Level 1: May 13-15 from 9 am to 4 pm: $1400. Level 2: May 16-18 from 9 am to 4 pm: $1400. Wow. ~ $466.00 per day. I believe it would be interesting. Probably worthwhile for professionals in high end restaurants and retail. And life changing if you care about food. So they say.
It was an in depth tasting. In addition to olive oil on bread cubes, we were treated to tastes of their own hummus, black bean, and green olive dips, as well as some of their green and black olives. Yes, we bought some and are looking forward to enjoying it before we get home.
Murals from Pasrai:
The granite stones used to grind the olives on the right. On the left, I don’t remember. But up front, that round tray is called an esportine and will hold ~ 4k of olive mash which will then be pressed. The esportine was orginally made of horse hair.
The golden olive oil you see below is from the ripe, black olive.
Onward to Cecchin Winery! This is a smallish, family owned organic vineyard.
The bike ride in to this vineyard lived up to my expectations.
The aroma of ripening grapes under this arbor was sweet!
Our guide, Cecile is from the Bordeaux region of France. She is passionate and knowledgable, taking the time to really teach us and talk with us about the wines: how to first hold it to the light or against a white paper or your palm. That the first sniff of wine is just to ensure that it has not turned. Then you swirl and sniff again. I was amazed at how the aroma changed with the introduction of oxygen. When you take a sip for a tasting, do so with an intake of air. It’s a little noisy; a little slurpy. But that’s how you get the full mouth feel and flavor. We bought a bottle.
At Trevento, the next winery, the experience was completely different. Well, for one thing, we didn’t take the tour, opting for the tasting only. It is a modern complex. Where at Cecchin we walked into a building from 1878, stone and adobe and latillas, Trevento was glass and steel and leather. We sat. Three bottles were brought to us; a short introduction to each was given. We were left alone with our tasting. At least they were generous pours. We didn’t buy.
Our serious consideration of the wines was brought up short when we were joined by Gerhardt from Vienna, Austria who sought companionship and conversation. We obliged and had a thoughtful conversation ranging from travel to politics to language and history.
We had planned on visiting a third winery after lunch at a local spot recommended by Nico. We didn’t find it. By this point, we were wine high, hungry, and hot, so headed back to turn in the bikes and return to Mendoza for dinner. I was so wiped out when we returned to the hotel, the most I could manage was a cool shower and a crash into bed.
A bus ride through the Andes took the better part of the day (Thursday, 8 feb.). We left Mendoza at 9 am and arrived in Santiago, Chile around 4:30. What a ride! The Andes, from a distance don’t seem like much. But, oh, in the midst of them! I’m just going to post a bunch of photos and hope you get the idea.
I look at the photos and I don’t think they really do get at the height and grandeur. They do give a glimpse into the varying geographic land forms, though, at times reminiscent of New Mexico.
Time to call it a day. Big hugs, Paula
I especially like the picture of the Chile border entry. Good job!