Places and Travel

Long weekend with wine

Returned yesterday from three days in Argentina’s wine country, the area around Mendoza, at the front range of the Andes. We were three: Holly and me, plus an old foreign service friend we first met years ago in South Africa. We stayed in a 2-BR cottage on the grounds of Casa Glebinias in the village (a little south of Mendoza) of Chacras de Coria, in the area of Lujan de Cuyo — heart of the wine country of Argentina. The front range of the Andes rises steeply as the backdrop (reminiscent of the Rockies behind Denver, but higher); everything else is vineyards (miles and miles of vineyards), the houses (and sometimes hovels) of vineyard workers, the upscale houses of people making a good living from wine, and the mansions of those who own large vineyards. Every narrow road is lined with tall, old poplars and sycamores. There is welcome and necessary shade everywhere there are not vines — it was well over 100 degrees F this past midsummer weekend, spiking up the sugar in all those grapes.

A few photos from where we spent the weekend. Click on any picture to enlarge to full size.

Looking from the kitchen toward the stairs to the second bedroom.

close up of the beautiful stairs and detail of the brick construction

Our bungalow; there are four of these on the estate grounds

view of our courtyard through the kitchen window; a large swimming pool is behind the hedges

We visited three wineries, took one winery tour, ate two winery lavish lunches where each course is matched with the appropriate wine, and one of the wineries had such wonderful wines, and is so small that there is limited production and distribution, that we are having three cases shipped to us — scheduled to arrive tomorrow, so come on over.

Here are some winery and vineyard photos. Again, clicking one makes it bigger.

vines and mountains, photo from Belasco de Baquedano winery

View across a tiny portion of the vineyard toward the Andes from the restaurant within the Belasco de Baquedano bodega

a glass of the justifiable famous Argentine Malbec

Typical of the tree-lined roads in the Lujan de Cuyo region

Working on lunch: Argentine grass fed beef tenderloin, goes well with Malbec

Lunch at Bodega Clos de Chacras

We bought three cases from the Bodega Clos de Chacras: one merlot, one medium Malbec and one (bust the budget) premium Malbec. This small, nearly tiny, vineyard was built by an Italian in the late 1800s; when Argentines were drinking mostly table wines and not premium wines, he abandoned the vineyard but kept ownership of the property. in the later 1980s, the granddaughter of the original owner brought it back to life and is running it as a family operation. Don’t miss this bodega if you are in the area.

In the cellar at Clos de Chacras with our tour guide from the winery. I thought she spoke English quite well, but with an odd accent. When I asked where she was from, she said: Tennessee.

The Bodega Belasco de Baquedano has one of the rare “aroma rooms,” where you can sample many of the different aromas that a wine might produce, from great to horrible. Bodegas commonly have a tasting room, but this is the first aroma room we have ever encountered. That alone (although the lunch tasting is fantastic) is worth the trip.

No, we're not puking in a bucket. We are trying to guess the source of aromas. Some were easy -- especially fruit and spice smells. Some we couldn't figure out until reading the label.

Not all aromas produced by wine are all that pleasant

Okay, I could lie and say I'm working by the pool, but I didn't write a word for four days. Just reading the NY Times.

Back home now, and with this blog post done, I’m off to the café to see if I remember how a writer writes.


7 replies »

    • That’s impossible to answer. I have favorites, but they usually change when I change places, depending on what’s easily available. I drink wine everyday, usually a bottle, some with lunch, the rest with dinner. I drink whites when it’s hot or warm, reds when it’s cold. Then it also varies with food — reds with red meat, regardless of weather. I drink whites sort of the way people drink beer — just sitting around, no special food or occasion. Reds always go with food for me.

      By variety, I prefer saugivnon blanc in whites and malbec in reds. The malbec affair began when we began living in its homeland.

      In a few months I’ll probably be switching my daily bread to tequila and beer.

      I expect you to come down then and sample with me.