09.03.2010 - 12.03.2010
Time to leave Buenos Aries with the big question being where to head first but with the apetite whetted with steak and wine, the wine region of Mendoza seemed the logical choice. The region is famous mostly for its Malbec grapes but also produces some solid merlot and cab sav's and sampling a few of these felt like a good way to spend a couple of days. Arriving here on the first day I met some American guys and we decided to jump on some bikes and cycle our way around the vineyards sampling the wines as we went. A day very well spent taking in about four wineries and sampling some very tasty gourmet steaks with a little bit of exercise in between to break things up. Despite some issues with the equipment (our British friend had one too many pieces to his bike at the end of the day) we all came back safe and sound. Leaving the valley it was impossible not to grab a bottle for the night complimenting the steak that we had at one of the better restaurants in town beautifully.
Good food was definitely a theme in Mendoza with the two American guys both liking food as much as I do so every meal we had was absolutely superb owing to the gourmet ingredients on offer. We managed to sample quite a few steaks with sauces made from mushrooms, blue cheese and the like. We also found some nicely done calamari and some smoked salmon lasagne of all things. One day after a particularly big lunch we managed to put together a pretty decent spread of assorted meats, cheeses, olives and fruits ourselves that went exceptionally well with the wine that we continued to sample.
The second day from such humble beginnings, looking like a complete flop at 11am actually turned out to be probably the best day there. Phoning a friend took us on a private winery tour where the guide opened the whole place up to us, going through the whole process in detail. He also showed us around the incredibly impressive cellar (if I ever get a cellar together this is my blue print without question) and tasting areas as well as their extensive library. After the thoroughly enjoyable tour the guide then spent about an hour with us going through the wines on offer, providing all the detailed tasting notes. After lightening their wine collection by a few bottles at a great price (probably not going to effect their yearly four million litres of production but every bit counts) we headed home and took in a couple of bottles and a quiet night.
The next day (my last in Mendoza) we decided to get out of city and into the foothills of the Andes. I came here thinking that the Andes were much closer and that some good hiking would easy to organise, sadly this isn't quite the case with most of the trekking being a few hours away. Nevertheless we found a place nearby that we could get some hiking in and spent a good few hours amongst the foothills around a quite spectacular looking river that wound its way through the valley. We also had the opportunity to break up the hiking with some repelling down a rock face right next to a very refreshing waterfall. It was definitely great to get away from the city and out into the country and with that on my mind I decided to head to Bariloche, the lakes district of Argentina with the last month of summer offering the perfect weather for exploring the outdoors.