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Published: July 21st 2014
Alta Vista, a hundred years of history
This was a three-winery day!
A short bus ride brought us to Alta Vista
, a modern winery based on old traditions, situated in rolling countryside. The guide showed us the traditional part first – even back then it was huge. Long concrete structures faded into the distance: they are the old fermentation tanks, now lined with epoxy. (Wine must have had an odd taste in the “olden days”.) Down we went into the deep underground cellar. The wines are stored in French or American oak, according to the taste of the wine maker. Inside the oldest part of the “cave”, with walls three feet thick, as seen through a submarine-type porthole window, is their most prestigious wine. Bottles of “Alto” are priced at almost $200 per bottle. The wire cage in which the bottles are kept is locked!
Up we went into the very new and sophisticated wine-tasting rooms. We weren’t invited into the serious room, but we did peek through the glass door at the long, wide counter with about ten sinks for spitting wine after tasting - these were for serious buyers. We perched on stools or stood by a long bar, behind which our guide led us
Appetizers with diagram
Ruca Malen exposes their kitchen process
through tasting a white and a couple of reds. Then she announced that we could sample “Alto” at ten dollars a glass. At first this seemed outrageous, although in a restaurant it would have been normal. Then one wine lover decided to try a taste, then another. Kathy and her sister started searching for the right number of pesos, and I offered the difference. Suddenly, we were sharing one glass of wine – smooth, deep and worth the cost of a taste. Not sure if a bottle would be worth the cost because the first tastes are the best to the brain. We had fun taking pictures and giggling. No wonder we weren’t invited into the serious room!
Final fun, for me, was buying their expensive chocolate to take home. Supposed to be very good, according to Martin.
On to lunch at Ruca Malen
and a special wine tasting. Five courses of haut cuisine were formally served with carefully chosen wines. Or rather, as the chef explained afterwards, five wines were selected and he decided on dishes to highlight the wines. As a bit of whimsy, a variety of tiny appetizers were served on a square
Gratitude to the Spanish founders of Argentina
glass plate to which was affixed underneath a photocopy of the chef’s design for the arrangement, usually a guide only for the kitchen staff. He was quite delighted when we carefully unstuck the design-paper and kept it for a souvenir. Our main course was perfectly seared filet mignon.
Back in Mendoza, in a break from eating and drinking, Jan and Theo and I went out to photograph the five large squares of Mendoza City
: Italia, España, Chile, San Martin and Independencia (the main one). This was a pleasant pursuit through quieter streets in the slightly warmer afternoon air. As the time passed, more and more people came out to the plazas and streets. We attempted a bit of shopping but gave up to enjoy the stroll on Independencia Avenue – reserved for pedestrians and restaurants. On the Square itself was a small craft market. I fell for the simple silver rings decorated with chips of blue and green stones. This cost the last of my pesos (37), about US$8.
Our evening was magical. We drove into the countryside to Andres Antonietti
’s family vineyard and garden. He greeted us warmly. In his dirt-floored winery, he toured us through his traditional production
Concrete Fermentation Tanks
Andres Antonietti makes wine the traditional way.
techniques and then he showed a (very) homemade video about the winery’s history. He was so proud of everything! As darkness fell, he invited us to his covered patio where he and his wife and two staff served a home cooked dinner. We started with a lively sparkling wine and beef empanadas made by their neighbor – delicious! With the main course of beef we had his own Malbec
wine, one of the best Malbecs we have had (usually they aren’t full-bodied enough for me). Andres was a charming host at our table; conversation went long into the evening based on his long, personal stories of wine making.
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