We woke up at a reasonable hour and started walking from San Carlos to Eugenio Bustos, across Route 40. Our first destination was within walking distance. Before we arrived at the winery we stopped to have a cup of coffee at a local coffee shop. This is the kind of coffee shop that you see in the movies, old men sipping at their steaming hot coffee talking it up with the owner and coffee maker. I love it. Without asking, we received a plate full of small pastries. Not only are these people good and generous, I also think part of the reason for all this generosity is that they just don't get many tourists here. This kind of place just makes me want to walk into more small local places than the usual tourist hot spots.
We arrived at the guard post of Finca La Celia and were given guest tags to wear around our necks. Leonor greeted us with a mighty handshake. She gave us a small tour of the grounds as well as explaining about the special wine making machine that produces the winery's kosher wine. After the tour we went into the wine tasting room. A simple looking room with loads of wine bottles, such a beautiful sight. We tasted 2 wines, a Chardonnay 2007 and a Malbec 2006. The Chardonnay had a great golden color with exotic flavors of peach, apricot and grapes. The Malbec had berry and cinnamon aromas with an oaky dry aftertaste. Both wines were just good. At the end I offered Leonor to trade the bottle opener, but the minute Tim said that I was collecting them, she just gave it to me (my 11th). What a great woman. We expressed our gratitude and walked to the end of España Avenue. We turned right on Los Indios and started walking. After a lot of walking and some hitch hiking we finally arrived at our destination.
We arrived at Bodega O'Fournier a few minutes after noon and were met by Natalia. We left our backpacks in an office and started the wine tour. We walked through an amazingly designed cement building with what looks like a helicopter landing pad. They also have a big impressive wine cellar. At the end of the tour we received a tasting of a Torrontés 2007. The wine had a golden color with aromas and flavors of lichee, lemon, and peach. Overall I did not enjoy myself that much. O'Fournier is considered a high class winery, but gives average wines tastings. If they have better wines than the Torrontés, they should not forgo the generosity to let their guests taste them. I felt that we were hurried off (I think it was because we were just 2 people and not a bus load). We thanked Natalia, and after 5 minutes of walking one of the bodega's workers stopped for us. He was on his way to San Carlos, so he dropped us off at the central bus station in Eugenio Bustos.
Luckily we just caught the bus that we would take us to our next winery. It took about an hour to arrive at Finca Abril – Bodega y Viñedos in La Consulta. The bus driver let us off and we walked up to a wooden fence. We were early so we contemplated whether to go in or not. In the end we went in and sat in the shade until we were met by Sergio and another girl who I forget her name. After a small introduction to the bodega's history and business, we were taken on a small tour of the winery. It wasn't such a big place, it had a space with about 10 big stainless steel tanks, another small temperature controlled storage room, and a hidden wine cellar. Sergio started us off with 2 tank tastings. The first was a Cinzau 2007 that had a red clear strawberry color. It amazed me with the ripe cherry and fresh wheat aromas together with flavors of cherry and light spices such as ginger. The second tank tasting was of a Rapsodia Malbec 2007. Its aroma had a small hint of vanilla with flavor of ripe plum and a smooth body finish. Even though these wines were just a few months old, we both enjoyed them. Next we walked out the front entrance and walked into what looked like a deserted garage. Only when our eyes got used to the dark and walked towards the end of the room did we notice the steep stairs going down. We arrived at the winery's cellar, which consisted of 300 oak barrels. Every time I walk into a wine cellar with barrels I get the same old feeling of just wanting to put one on my back and take it home. Down here we tasted a Once Acres Malbec 2007. What a great wine even though it was real young. The wine already had some oak and leather aromas and flavors, together with a strong oaky aftertaste. We definitely tasted the potential in this wine. At the end of the tour we decided to buy a bottle of what Sergio had on hand, a Once Acres Malbec 2004. We thanked Sergio and the girl and started walking towards the end of Ejército de los Andes Street. According to the map we were in the right place and caught the next bus to our next bodega.
We arrived at San Polo – Bodega & Viñedos 45 minutes early. Mauricio greeted us and invited us into the wine tasting room. The air conditioning felt good as Mauricio poured a chilled Piuquenes Chardonnay 2007 into wine glasses. The Chardonnay had a clear golden color with aromas of lichee, pineapple, and peach. Both Tim and I indulged in another chilled glass before we moved on to the red wine. Mauricio poured us an Auka Malbec 2005. This Malbec had a strong alcoholic smell with a hint of plum and oak. It also had flavors of plum, oak, and black pepper together with a full body and hard dry aftertaste. It wasn't very good. We tried to learn a little about the winery but Mauricio didn't know much. He said he was helping his cousin for a few days and therefore did not know all of the information about the winery. We thanked Mauricio and caught a bus into the center plaza of La Consulta.
This is where Tim and I go our own ways, but not until we drink our bottle of wine. We found a hostel for Tim and sat down to open the bottle from Finca Abril. We invited Daniel and his son Andres, and after a few minutes they produced a plate with some crackers and pastrami. Good people. After talking our way to the end of the bottle, Daniel offered to take me to Tunuyán's bus station since he was going that way anyway. I said goodbye to Tim, thanking him for the wonderful time and great trip that we shared. Daniel dropped me off at the bus station and by midnight I was back in Mendoza drinking another bottle with my dinner. What a great adventure. I was so happy to finally meet somebody (Tim of course) who liked to travel like me, by just winging it and whatever happens, happens.