I woke up early and arrived in Maipú by 9 o'clock in the morning. I said my "Buenas diás." to Hugo as I also asked for my personal bicycle. I said goodbye and started peddling south on my usual route. According to my map it was more than 40 km to my first winery of the day. Because I was already 45 minutes late for my first reservation I decided to continue on to my second. I passed the winery that I had my third reservation that day as well. All this time on San Martín Avenue, I finally took a right on Route 86 for about 9 more kilometers. I arrived at the winery at 11:45.
I walked into the main building of Bodega Pulenta Estate and into a clean white walled room. I walked over to the offices and introduced myself. Anna introduced herself as well and asked if I could wait for a few minutes. Of course I agreed and rested on a comfortable chair staring at their display of wooden wine boxes. Anna ushered me outside with a bottle
of white wine and a couple of glasses. Right outside the door, she opened the bottle on an oak barrel and poured the La Flor Sauvignon Blanc 2007. It was such a good wine. At my request, she carried out a short interesting tour. We then went down into the wine tasting room where the glasses were already waiting. I truly loved this room. It was right in the middle of the wine cellar, so as you look around out the huge glass walls, you can see all the wine barrels. Anna gave me an interesting explanation about the winery and the wines. I was going to taste 3 series of wines of different quality. All wines were amazing. We started with the La Flor Cabernet Sauvignon 2006. Even though it was a young wine it had a splendid fruity finish. The second wine was a Merlot 2005 which had nice oak and tobacco aromas, with berry flavors and a dry fruity finish. The final wine was a Pulenta Estate Malbec 2006. I enjoyed this wine immensely as it had aromas of fresh berries and dark chocolate. Its flavors of plum, wild berries and apples, together with a smooth fruity finish made it one of the best wines I have tasted. As all this drinking was going on, Anna and I had a great conversation about wine. As she poured some more Malbec she had decided to give me a special treat, another tasting. After a few minutes, a person walked in and handed her a 375 ml bottle of wine straight from an oak barrel. I would soon find out that this small bottle contained a big amazing wine. Anna explained that the bottle contained a future Pulena Estate Gran Cabernet Franc 2006. Now, I don't have any degrees or even courses in wine, but, when I tell you that this wine has potential, you have got to believe me. I have tasted this wine when it is considerably young, and the amount of potential it has is unbelievable. Aside from its amazing color, it had aromas of oak, leather, dark chocolate, and black pepper. It has amazing flavors of fresh red meat, cherries, and ripe plums, with a smooth round finish. It is such an amazing wine. As Anna and I exited the room she poured me some more PE Malbec for the walk back to her office. The 35 pesos I paid were a small investment for the amazing wines of this bodega. As if she hadn't given me enough, Anna also gave me a free flight tasting for The Vines of Mendoza. I expressed my enormous gratitude to Anna and took off for my next reservation.
Anna also did me another favor by calling Carolina at Bodega Tapiz, to tell her that I would be arriving a little late. I passed the guarded entrance and rode towards the big building at the end of the dirt path. Near the building's entrance stood a horse carriage with 2 beautiful brown horses. I went inside only to come out again with Carolina and jump on the carriage with her. She talked about the winery's history and its current status in Argentina. Carolina taught me a lot about the leaves as well as bunches of grapes and how to distinguish between varieties. The tour was really interesting. We continued on into the temperature controlled wine cellar, which was really impressive. The room also had a big wooden table with all of the winery's wines on display. I followed Carolina into the main room with countless stainless steel tanks and oak barrels in between. This is where I learned that it would be a joint tasting session with tank and bottle. Carolina opened the first tank valve and a real light fluid poured out, a Sauvignon Blanc 2007. It had a nice apple and pineapple aroma with a lemon pineapple flavor. Next was a comparison between a Chardonnay 2007 from a tank and a Reserva Chardonnay 2006 from a bottle. I could definitely smell and taste the differences between these wines. The age of these wines, even though just a year apart were certainly noticeable. The next challenge was even bigger. A comparison between a Malbec 2007 and Malbec 2006 from a tank, and a bottled Malbec 2004. The younger Malbecs had much more noticeable aromas and flavors whereas the more mature Malbec had refined its aromas and flavors while aging in the bottle. All 3 were extremely enjoyable with smooth finishes and evident vanilla aromas with berry and cherry flavors. This extremely knowledgeable tour didn't cost even a single peso, so I bought another bottle opener for my collection (my 13th). I thanked Carolina for the wonderful tour and continued to my next winery.
After a 10 minute bike ride I arrived at Bodega Dolium. I apologized to Juan about missing the morning reservation. He said it was no problem and he was glad that I was able to drop by anyway. As I walked in I noticed a beautiful work of art, a table and 2 chairs built from an oak barrel. I even sat on a chair during my tastings. Juan lined up 7 bottles of wine and explained shortly about each one. The wines I tasted were a Sauvignon Blanc 2007, a Malbec Rosado 2007, a Classic Tempranillo 2006, a Classic Malbec 2006, a Classic Syrah 2005, a Petit Reserva Syrah 2005, and a Petit Reserva Malbec 2006. The wines I enjoyed the most are the last two. They had more distinguishable aromas than the other wines. The Syrah exploded with all kinds of aromas, beginning with vanilla, nutmeg, oak and leather. The Malbec presented great aromas of oak, vanilla, cinnamon, and very surprisingly matzah. Both had a nice smooth finish. I thanked Juan for the tastings and paid my 20 pesos.
As I rode back north towards Maipú on San Martín Avenue, I stopped at the same gas station thrift store and bought another delicious bread. Before I entered Perdriel I turned left on Brandsen St. and rode to Bodega Filippo Figari. Unfortunately it was closed so I continued north. Other Bodegas that I rode past were Chakana, Chandon, and Terrazas de los Andes.
After the tens of kilometers that I traveled today, I arrived back at Hugo's bike shop totally exhausted. I sat down and rested. When I finally recovered a little I told him of my exploits in Valle de Uco, San Rafael and today. He was truly amazed at what I accomplished. I told him that this would be the last time I would rent one of his bikes. As I walked towards the bus stop, Hugo invited me back to Maipú and Mendoza whenever I could make it. I told him that I wish I didn't have to leave, but I knew that I had to keep on going. The bus arrived and I returned to Mendoza.