Friday, 15 August 2014

Drinking wine in Maipu

Straight from the barrel!
One of the best ways to enjoy the vineyards around Mendoza is to spend a day in Maipu, hire a bike and cycle from one to the next, sampling the local produce as you go. We liked it so much that we went twice!

We hired a bike from Mr Hugo’s bike company, who also gave us a map and some discount vouchers for some of the vineyards. (He also gave us a free bottle of wine when we returned the bikes – an extra bonus!)

Sampling wines in the wine shop in Maipu
The area is very well set up for visiting amateur wine connoisseurs. You pay for tastings at the vineyards, but not very much, particularly given how generous they are with the amount they give you.

This tasting included a "pinguino" - so called as
the grapes are crushed with your feet (and people look like penguins
 as they move from side to side to crush the grapes)
In most places you can also to redeem the price of the tasting against a bottle of wine if you do decide to buy a bottle.

Mmmmm wine
Some of the vineyards have restaurants, where you can enjoy a delicious lunch sitting on a veranda, overlooking the vineyard, with a good bottle of wine of course!

Olive oil, flavoured liquors and jams are also made in the area and there are also tastings to be had in the small family run businesses making these products.

Our top highlights from our two days out in Maipu were:

The Tempus Alba vineyard. The wine in this vineyard was particularly tasty. I particularly enjoyed the syrah and the rosé. The setting for the tastings was also perfect, up on a platform with a beautiful view over the autumnal leaves at the vineyard.

Enjoying the sun and wine at Tempus Alba
The wine museum “La Rural”. This vineyard was the founding vineyard of Rutini – La Rural wines, first planted in 1885 by Italian immigrant Felipe Rutini. It is now a working museum, where you can take a guided tour to see how the wine is made today, as well as how wine-making has changed over the years.  Our guide around the museum was very knowledgeable and the tour was worth the price, especially as we were able to redeem the museum entrance fee against a bottle of wine in the shop at the end.

There was of course the obligatory wine tasting at the end of the tour! 

The Beer Garden. If somehow you become sick of all the wine (is this actually possible?), this beer garden has a small but tasty menu of artisan beer to cleanse the pallet! They also serve tasty empanadas to help soak up all that alcohol!

And if you're missing the vineyards when you're back in town, you can always head over to the Vines of Mendoza Tasting Room for more! You can even create your own wine in the mixing room while you are there. We stuck to the drinking!

At the Vines of Mendoza Tasting Room

Some practicalities:
The 173 bus from the street La Rioja in Mendoza gets you to Urquiza street in the Coquimbito area of Maipu, where there is a concentrated collection of vineyards. Only the 173 goes to the right place in Maipu from La Rioja. Other Maipu bound buses go to the wrong part of the town.

Mr Hugo is so well known that if you say Mr Hugo to the bus driver, he’ll tell you when to get off. If by any chance, the driver doesn’t know Mr Hugo, saying Coquimbito and Calle Urquiza will get you there.

When we were there, it cost AR$70 for bike hire from Mr Hugo’s. He gave us a basic map, which helped us get around.

Tastings cost us between AR$50 and AR$70 and it was AR$70 for the La Rural wine museum tour. There are regular tours in Spanish at La Rural. English tours can also be arranged – we just turned up and were able to get a private tour in English.

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