Mendoza, Argentina - Wine Tasting and Rafting
Jan 24, 2006
|The coach to Argentina was rather luxurious, with huge reclining seats with footrests and a host (or possibly the driver if he put the coach on autopilot?) who served breakfast and drinks. The border crossing took ages but was hassle free. The journey took 8 hours in total and we arrived at our booked hostel at 5 pm. The hostel was good as well, clean and friendly, good for 3.50 pounds pppn.
Joined in the hostel bbq on the night for 3 pound each and consisted of 5 courses of meat including a black sausage and normal sausage 1st course, 2nd course of intestines and cow glands, 3rd course of ribs, and two final courses of steak, not forgetting salad and egg and potato salad during the meal - we were a little full!! Helen had a tiny piece of intestine but it was so chewy and fatty that it stayed in her mouth too long and so she couldn't swallow it. Still not bad for the price.
Had a walk around the next day and found Mendoza to be laid back with wide shady sidewalks, which kept the heat off you in the morning before we returned to the hostel for our afternoon siesta. It seems Mendoza is the baby capital of Argentina as every woman that you look at has a baby in her arms or is about to give birth.
Rafting today! Got there after a couple of hours drive to find a very professional outfit running the show. Our guide was a 23 year old Peruvian named Sergio. He'd only being rafting on this stretch 6 weeks and managed to flip the raft in his first week - thankfully he told us this afterwards.
We all got kitted out with Helen looking particularly fantastic in splash vest and pants and Paul played a blinder by putting his life jacket on back to front! Not a good start!
We had a practice at diving to each side of the raft to stop whichever side might tip over also to get inside the raft if we were about to flip and had a little practise paddle then we were off! Paul was at the front with the other guy on the trip and the 3 girls sat behind with Sergio steering at the rear.
The boys had it tough and bore the brunt of the waves and the work (it wasn't helped by Paul paddling backwards when we needed to go forwards!). We went through Grade 1, 2 and finally 3 rapids that seemed tame but looking at the photos on the CD the organisers did for us there was quite a bit of action going on. Survived with only a few scratches.
The location of the river was beautiful with mountains above us and blue lake below, although we were rafting on the muddy glacial waters. The river was particularly high because they had had a lot of snow that winter and so once melted it created grade 4 and 5 rapids that we couldn't go on due to the danger factor.
Had a guided tour of three Mendoza wineries the next day we were hobbling about because we ached from the rafting. The first winery was a hundred years old and had been bought by a German guy named Weinert when Argentina's economy collapsed. He brought different grapes with him along with huge French oak casks making his wine very sought after. We sampled a few at the end of the tour and it just tasted like every other wine to us!
The next winery had been bought from the Argentineans by French folk; this was a more modern winery that had stainless steel fermentation casks for the white wines and young reds and concrete casks for the fermentation of older reds. These were then stored to age in small barrels that are replaced every 3 years after which another winery buys them to store their cheaper wines. Sampled their wines, which were actually quite nice.
The third visit took us to a winery that didn't have an on site vineyard but had them dotted all over Mendoza. Here we learnt how to use our 5 senses to sample the wine, they all seemed to smell fruity and taste dry. A feast followed the tasting were we tried different foods that complement the wine that we were drinking, among which was the worst pate that we have ever tasted.
Relaxed on our final day in Mendoza in the 40oC heat.