I woke up early Saturday morning and had my quick hostel breakfast. I walked across Costanera St. and on to J. Vicente Zapata Ave. where I hooked a left onto Rioja St. and caught the number 174 bus to Maipú. After a 35 minute bus ride I stepped off in Coquimbito right in front of the bike rental shop owned by Hugo and his family. I walked into a small yard with tens of bicycles for rent. While standing and listening to Hugo give a speech to a group of tourists I realized that I would also get one if I didn't act fast. In my broken Spanish I talked to Hugo's wife who noticed that I already had a map and was on my toes to get the heck out of there and start my bike ride. She handed me a bottle of water and a bike for exchange of 15 pesos. I checked my bike from A to Z to see that everything was working, climbed on and started my wine tour.
I rode my bike for about 4.5 km on Urquiza Blvd. and turned left on Perito Moreno Road. After another kilometer I reached Bodega Tempus Alba but to my disappointment it was closed. I didn't expect my wine trip to start with such a disappointment. I continued down the road about 100 more meters and arrived in Bodega Viña El Cerno. For 15 pesos I received two tastings, a Malbec and a Cabernet Sauvignon, which could have been much better. I think they tasted better than they were because I was just so happy to just drink some wine that they could have given me vinegar. While I was paying for the tastings and my first wine bottle opener, Ricardo came over and offered another Cab from 2002. I would have to say this wine was definitely better, fruitier and rounder than the ones before. After feeling better from drinking wine I climbed back on my bicycle and backtracked to Urquiza Blvd.
After riding for about 2 km under a canopy of light green leaves I encountered another winery… such fun. I arrived at Bodega Familiar Di Tommaso. I parked my bike and a nice girl greeted me with a "Buenas Tardés". She showed me inside the building. I noticed right away that 3 teenagers were hard at work wrapping bottles in brown paper and laying them down inside a small circular brick igloo. I took some pictures and offered my help, but they refused and kept on working. Annabel sat me down on a long wooden bench and lined up the wine tastings (5 for only 10 pesos). While Annabel poured the wines and I started sniffing the first, she enlightened me with the bodega's history dating back to 1869. My nostrils exploded to the wonderful aromas that I experienced. Annabel told me that this wine is a Torrontés. This was my first encounter with the Torrontés and it was truly amazing. The wine itself was almost clear with aromas of fresh peach, pineapple and lichee. I tasted sweet green grapes with lichee and peaches with a sweet but alcoholic finish. My first Torrontés wine, a truly great experience. I also tasted a young Malbec and 2 reserves, a Malbec and a Cabernet Sauvignon. The Malbec Roble 2004 had aromas of strawberry, raspberry, and a touch of oak while in the mouth I tasted plum and a round smooth oaky finish. For "dessert" I had a shot of their Muscat dessert wine. I said "Muchas gracias" and continued on to Vintandes – Bodegas Y Viñedos. This winery was closed as well so I rode onto Aranda Road.
I found CarinaE – viñedos & bodega and rode in. I rode my bike into the winery's yard where a motion detector alarmed everybody of my presence. I parked my bike and entered a cooled white room where I was greeted by Brigitte. I asked to wash my hands and then sat down with the ventilator straight on me. One of the girls came over with 3 bottles of wine and a glass and placed them on the table. Seeing so many bottles of wine in front of me placed a great big smile on my face. With the owner's golden retriever Bella licking the salt off my toes, I started sniffing my first wine, a rosé made out of Malbec. While I heard the winery's short history, I tasted 2 more young low class wines, a Malbec and their "Octans" 2006 blend (which is only sold at the bodega). I paid my 15 pesos and had Bella escort me to my bike.
I stopped to look at my map, turned right on Ozamis Road and then a left on M.A. Saez Road and on to Bodegas y Viñedos Familia Cecchin, an organic winery. I walked into a big warehouse where they had big wooden barrels and old pictures covering the walls. I sat down on a high stool and was asked if I wanted to taste some wine. I smiled and said "Claro". I tasted a Moscatel de Alejandria, a Malbec and a surprisingly good Cab with aromas of toast and dried fruit. Here, I didn't have to pay for the tastings so I bought a bottle opener (my 2nd). I didn't have to peddle more than 500 meters before I "bumped" into Bodega Artesanal Roberto Boschi. Their sign was so worn out that I had to ride back a few meters because I missed the turn. I walked into a driveway that also substitutes for the family's playground. I yelled a low "Hello" and a man came out to greet me. With my broken Spanish I relayed that I wanted a small tour and some tastings if they had any. I was invited into a medium sized room with about 7 big stainless steel tanks and other winery equipment. I don't remember my guide's name but I found out that he is Roberto's son. I asked him where is Roberto and he pointed to the older man who seemed to be hard at work filtering his wine. I was glad to learn that the two girls helping him were his granddaughters. "Roberto Jr.", as I called him, poured me a half full wineglass of Tempranillo straight from the stainless steel tank. The wine had a nice peppery aroma and the same taste with a sour finish. Not a bad wine at all but Roberto Jr. told me that it will be better in about 6 months. This is the first winery where I truly felt the family undertaking of the winemaking profession. I peddled back to Ozamis Road and found a sign of my next destination, Bodega Antonio Nerviani. Unfortunately the bodega was closed so I started heading back to the bike rental shop.
I met Hugo in front of his yard and asked him if Bodega La Rural might still be open. He said I should try because it is just around the corner. I arrived at Bodega La Rural at a few minutes past five in the evening and the place was still stirring. I sneaked onto the end of a tour and blended in very well with my camera flashing everywhere. I tasted a nice chilled Chardonnay and smooth but real flat Cab. I said thank you to the nice group of tour guides and rode back to the bike shop. While waiting for my bus, Hugo wanted to find out exactly what I did and how many wines I tasted. As I climbed on the bus I bid Hugo a "Buenas Noches y muchas gracias" and sat down for the ride back to Mendoza city and my hostel. I had such an amazing first experience. Everybody was so nice and even though I didn't speak Spanish, I could tell that everybody tried their best to make me understand them.