Zig-zagging through the vineyards of Mendoza…

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Eye on the prize: Sophie checks out the grapes

“Rich aromas of pine and oak with hints of treacle and cinnamon gently coming through to caress and tickle the back of one’s throat,” salivates the pretentious Swiss woman.

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“Tastes like fermented grapes to me.”

“Excellent, now you,” says our host, turning to me. “What can you taste in this Malbec, Phil?”

I consider playing the game for a moment, but I really can’t be bothered.

“Hmm, reminds me very much of fermented red grapes,” I reply with a grin.

The Swiss Miss raises an eyebrow in disgust and shakes her head.

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Drinking to Mendoza

Who cares? I’m on my sixth vino tinto of the day at a quaint little vineyard on the outskirts of Mendoza and I’m as happy as an alchi in, well, a vineyard.

Now, I appreciate a glass of plonk as much as the so-called connoisseur, but unfortunately either my palette is rotten or I haven’t yet quite refined the ability to speak twaddle.

I suspect the answer lies somewhere in the middle.

After sampling another wine, a rosé(reminiscent of slightly sweeter fermented grapes), Sophie and I hop on to our pushbikes to seek out another vineyard.

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Sophie wobbles down the road after a couple of vinos

We pedal past fields lined with row upon row of shoulder-high vines decorated with plump bunches of deep purple grapes.

It could be the south of France.

The next stop on our little bike and wine tour is at a wine farm which dates back to the 19th century.

In the dimly lit bodega, or wine cellar, beside acres of vines are the enormous brick tanks that were originally used to ferment grapes.

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Dusty old wine bottles at the bodega near Mendoza

Today they are now considered a pristine historical example of part of the 19th century wine-making process and have been named a heritage site.

Dusty, dog-eared photos give an insight into some of the early pioneers of wine-making in the region.

They discovered that the soil and climate were perfect for growing Malbec and today there are more than 1,000 vineyards in the vicinity of Maipu, a small town on the outskirts of Mendoza.

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Fresh olive oil

I am forced to sample more wines before we continue on our journey to a small chocolate and olive-making business.

It is now taking considerably longer to make progress as our cycling styles have taken on a definite zig-zag quality.

When we finally arrive we listen to some spiel about different types of olives.

It washes right through my now drunkenly glazed eyes, until finally the friendly lady gives up and points us in the direction of the free samples.

Sophie and I dive in. They are delicious.

There are plenty of olives, breads, sauces and pastes to keep us busy for a long while.

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“Now which one shall I try first…”

We are offered the chance to try one of a dozen different flavoured pisco shots made on site – because we could really do with more alcohol at this stage. I opt for a pisco beer. It’s disgusting.

Finally we head back to Hugo’s store to drop off our bikes.

When we arrive the silver-haired owner greets us like long lost friends and offers one final fat tankard of wine ‘for the road’.

“What do you think?” he says to me.

“Hmm, hints of melon, cranberry and lime, smooth and velvety,” I reply, trying to play the game.

Hugo lets out a huge laugh,“Really? The good stuff went a few hours ago, this is all I’ve got left now, the cheap rubbish. Tastes like vinegar to me!”

I guess I’ve still got a long way to go to make it as a connoisseur.

But it is a lot of fun trying!

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Salud!

About travellingtoothbrushes

We are a couple of journalists with restless toothbrushes. Our teeth scrubbers seem unable to leap out of their respective washbags to take up a permanent residency on the bathroom shelf. So, we've decided to let them live the way they want to and take them on a trip around South America...
This entry was posted in Tacuarembó, Words of wisdom (teeth) and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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