¡Otra Botella de Vino Tinto Por Favor!

Bodega SottanoWe were pretty sad to leave our friends and BA behind, but fortunately we were on our way to the perfect place to drown our sorrows. We began on the bus with red wine and champagne. Our very polite bus attendant approached us just after we left the terminal and questioned us in Spanish. Unfortunately we couldn’t understand, and upon my polite ‘¿Hablas inglés?’ he said ‘A little… let’s play bingo’. A minute later he handed us a bingo card, grabbed a microphone and off we went!

We arrived not so fresh at 8.30am on Wed and jumped in a taxi to our B&B. Unable to check in for a couple of hours we stepped out to check out the area and see if we could find a wine bar. Unfortunately the town was still pretty sleepy, so we had a coffee and some medialunas and looked around for a wine tour for the next day. Later that day we found a great place and booked on a bit of a posh tour, and as a bonus they gave us a voucher for a free glass of wine! Happy at last, we made our way to The Vines of Mendoza and ate cheese, drank wine and chatted to the staff who were all too happy to begin our vino education.

We dragged ourselves out of bed the following morning, ready to be picked up at 9am to start ‘tasting’. Already in the bus when we arrived were Bill and Mark from DC. Lovely guys who had already done a tour with the same company only two days before, a good sign! Mark is a Spanish teacher so it was pretty interesting having him around. Soon after, we picked up Walter, a Brasilian guy who was VERY into his wines. Needless to say, we felt a little like children amongst the grown ups! However, I was to discover towards the end of the day that Bill and Mark didn’t take it too seriously, when I commented that one of the reds smelled like washing up liquid and they chuckled along with me!

We visited some truly beautiful wineries and tasted some sensational wines, surprisingly alongside the Malbecs and red blends, there were a couple of good whites too! We also learned a lot about the region and wines in general. For lunch we were at a place called Ruca Malen where we ate five courses with 6 ‘paired’ wines. Delicious food, great wine and a view of the Andes to boot, we were very happy! Throughout the day we saw and tasted wines that are produced in the old wooden containers (Mendel) or concrete vats (Alta Vista) and those that are produced in the new steel ones (Sottano). We found out that the ‘reserva’ wines from the region have been stored in new French (and some 20% American) oak barrels for at least 12 months. Not such a fascinating statistic until you realise that the best of the best oak barrels from France cost 1200 euros a piece and are often only used once for the gran reserva wines!!!! We also got to see some wines being bottled at Sottano, a pretty interesting process to see. Fortunately we were dropped at our door at the end of the day and managed to sober up a little before heading out for empanadas for dinner!

The Andes

Didn’t do a lot on Friday, slept in, tried to do some sight seeing and book bus tickets, but we seemed to be thwarted at every turn by the incredibly long siesta that seems to run from midday until 4pm! So we mainly hung out in cafés and had our own long siesta in the afternoon! We did find a great place for dinner, but freaked the staff out by walking in at 8pm, I don’t think they were expecting anyone until at least 10!

On Saturday we braved the local buses to get to Maipú to hire bikes for a day of cycling around vineyards. There were a couple of Scandinavians trying to get on the bus in front of us, but they hadn’t bought the ‘Red Bus’ card that you need to pay. As we were all tourists, the driver seemed to think it only fair that Anthony and I pay for them using our card! Given that it was all of about 2p we decided to be charitable. It was nice to have some company on the way to the bike shop and at least there were four of us looking like idiots as we jumped up and peered out the window every time we saw a sign! We got the bikes from Mr Hugo, who rather surprisingly for someone who runs a roaring tourist operation, speaks practically no English, and were on our way. We visited La Rural/Rutini, Trapiche (where we had a great tour… in Spanish), Familia Di Tomasso and a great place that makes chocolate, dulce de leche, olive oil and spirits! Rather bravely Anthony tasted the 75% Absinthe (only legal in Argentina and Czech Republic) first. I decided to pass when I saw the look of pain on his face and the girl doing the tour told me she blistered her mouth when she had it! The dulce de leche was great though! On arrival back at Mr Hugos, we were greeted with another glass of red wine, it was almost getting too much, but only almost…. when we returned to Mendoza we went back to The Vines for some half price happy hour fun.

Sunday we were up early to check out and to try the gallery we’d been wanting to visit, it was closed again! So we spent most of the day wandering around the beautiful park and drinking coffee in cafes. After another meal that we turned up for so early we think we were actually eating with the staff before their shift, we headed for the bus station for our overnight bus to Córdoba.

Alexandra Written by:


  1. Linda
    July 31

    Makes me want to drink wine and I don’t even like it! xxx

  2. Morldrens
    July 31

    Sounds rubbish. Wouldn’t you have much rather enjoyed the gallo wines available at my house last Saturday?
    They were stored in a week old blue “beer bucket” filled with ice and water to keep the wines at the correct temperature.
    Tasting started at 1pm and went on until 1am.
    Also available was a selection of beers and ciders for those not quite so partial to grape.
    Entry was free to those on the guest list!

  3. Janna
    July 31

    It all sounds EXTREMELT familiar!!!!! I am 99% sure I rented the bikes from Mr Hugos too and remember peering out the bus window looking for his place.
    Beautifl photos, once again.

    • Alexandra
      July 31

      Thanks. We’re thinking of going back again on our way south. So much fun! You should come join us 😀

  4. Heather
    August 1

    Hey guys,

    amazing pictures again. Al and i really fancy this part of your trip, we love the cycling bit. Drink some wine for us and eat nice cheese!

    lots of love xxxxxxxxx

    p.s we expect you to be the wine expert and find some nice wine here for the roast beef when you come home

    • Alexandra
      August 1

      No problems there, although we only know about Argentine wine! Can’t wait for that roast beef.

      We are drinking enough wine and eating enough cheese for the whole of England! It’s fantastic 😀


      • heather
        August 3

        Al would like to challenge you on the cheese front….

  5. Annika
    August 10

    I think we should have waited with our wine order for the wedding until after this write up! We won’t have Argentine wine on the menu but you are welcome to use it for your tost!

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