Well, so we arrived in Mendoza hungover (if you have to ask, it had to do with an upgrade on our flight and too many hours spent in the lounge). In retrospect, not the best way to start a three-day wine-drinking spree… Our “airport pickup” car rental turned out not to be at the airport but actually back in the city center where we had started, already late. A few hours later, after mastering a traffic system rife with unwavering drivers and absent of stoplights, we were happily on our way to wine taste in Maipú valley. Having only time for one winery, we visited Trapiche, where an 18-year old girl gave us our first lesson on Mendoza wine with the self-assuredness that only youth can provide. She would use words like “solemnity” to describe the feature Malbec and, at my suggestion that the wine tasted like asparagus, replied with a simple, “No. No, it does not”. Damn you, Sideways.
Feeling much more energized the next day, we hit the road early and drove an hour south to the Valle de Uco. Vineyards were much more spaced out here, placed alongside rolling hills of aspen farms and fields of flowers with the Andes providing a picturesque backdrop. Much more impressive than Maipú, which had all the suburbanness of Palo Alto and vineyards where the Baja Fresh should have been. The vineyards required advance reservations and the Spanish tours were one-on-one giving ample opportunity to learn about their wine-making process; unless of course you were Tia and, despite understanding very little and having picked up a cold, you obligingly listened and carted your husband from vineyard to vineyard. Does David Yurman have a line of jewelry for such an occasion? I hope so.
The day ended back in Maipú at Catena Zapata, world-renowned for its Malbecs, where we rolled up to an Aztec temple that served as its tasting room. No res. They could obviously smell class in our cargo pants. Anyway, our tongues were too numb and lips too purple by then so we retreated back to the city center to enjoy some well-missed haute cuisine. Definitely a fun place and we wish we could have spent more time there.