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Published: August 3rd 2017
After another enormous breakfast, seriously, we were picked up at the hotel by our Ampora escort for the day, Sabrina. Sabrina is a literature teacher, although she is currently working full time as a tour guide for Ampora. She's also a licensed Sommelier, and very passionate about wine. I do believe that we have to credit her company for how extra special our tour was. Once more, she spoke perfect English and had lived in the United States. I liked her immensely.
Uco Valley is a more recent addition to the wine production areas in Mendoza. From the story we were given, Mendoza was an area of high wine production for a very long time, but mostly table wines that were consumed in large quantities locally. It wasn't until some of the wineries decided to enter and compete in the world market that the production of wine became a lot more sophisticated. A lot of the wineries in this area are owned and operated by foreign interests with long histories in winemaking who realized the potential for growing top grapes in this area, due to the high altitude, the soil, and long growing season. The region has had an
unprecedented amount of rain this year, but the alluvial quality of the soil has helped to keep fungus and other problems away, so far.
Our day was overcast, with some light rain on and off. Sabrina was distraught because we would not able to appreciate the beauty of the spectacular surrounding mountains to the full, but the sun was out enough that we were able to appreciate the landscape.
As soon as we arrived at our first stop, Domaine Bousquet Estate in the Tupungato area, we realized that we were fortunate to have Sabrina as our escort. It was immediately apparent that, not only was Ampora given special considerations, but that Sabrina herself was held in high regard. Our wine guide at Domaine Bousquet, Marianela, was obviously an old friend who not only added wines to our tasting, but replaced one of the wines we were supposed to taste for their very top of the line Malbec. I don't think I need to tell you, it was divine! Domaine Bousquet is a Certified Organic Vineyard. So much so that their wines qualify as Vegan. Sabrina mentioned that a lot of Argentinians still think that these wines
must not taste as good as regular ones. I can assure you, they are lacking nothing in taste and complexity.
We were given a chance to explore the winery in detail. We climbed above the vats, and looked inside of them. Marianela was thorough in her explanation of their wine making methods, but she was also very laid back and fun, and was obviously enjoying playing hostess with her friend there.
Our tasting was in a nice and isolated glass-walled room under the winery, with cellars full of barrells around us. One fun fact about their wines. One of their lines is called Henry, and it was explained that the owner's name is Enrique but, when his wife is upset with him, she calls him Henry. It was a very good wine, and we chuckled to know the private joke behind the label.
It was a very fun experience, and we were in the best frame of mind when we set out for our second stop, Gimenez Riili, although perhaps it was just that Sabrina's excitement to going there was contagious. She obviously considered it something special, and once we were able to experience
it for ourselves, we had to agree.
Gimenez Riili is a boutique winery in the Tunuyan area of Uco Valley, with such a small production that they don't even export, although they do ship. One of many business enterprises owned by the same family of father, mother, and five sons. This particular vineyard is owned and operated by the eldest son, Federico Gimeniz Riili, CEO, who came out to welcome us soon after we arrived at the winery. Adriano, our very knowledgeable and passionate wine guide, was waiting for us and we were once again served a delicious Espumante while he explained to us in detail the origens of the valley, and what made it such optimum grape growing country. The day was too overcast to appreciate the mountain view clearly, but there was a picture of what it looked like in a sunny day, and the clouds opened up enough for us to appreciate it.
There were several high points during this tour, two of which were being able to try their Torrentes from one of the vats, and also a Malbec right from the French Oak Barrell. The third treat was the pairing that
Adriano conducted during out sit down tasting, in the small, rustic wooden front room of the winery. He told us that everyone does pairings with foods that go well with the wines, but he wanted to do the opposite and show us foods that we shouldn't have with a particular kind of wine, so that we can always enjoy the wines as much as possible. We tried cheeses, nuts, raisins and membrillo, as well as a sundried tomato. It was quite interesting, and I wish I had made notes. Just when we thought we were all done, they brought out freshly made beef Empanadas for us. Wow! I think this has to be the most special of the wineries that we visited.
One cute event at the end of our tasting, was when Federico Gimenez Riili, Owner and CEO, came back in to see how we had liked everything, and he had his young son with him. The boy's eyes lit up when he saw our glasses, and asked his dad for some. Apparently, he had already been given some, because his dad served him a little bit, but told him not to mention it to his mother.
LOL! Apparently, he's already decided that he will be the next generation of Gimenez Riili wine maker.
From there, we proceeded to our last stop, Bodega Andeluna. Here, as the day before, we didn't do a tour but sat down to a gourmet lunch in their large lodge style restaurant next to the impressive winery building, by one of the windows that offered unobstructed views of their beautiful grounds and landscape.
Seven courses, seven wines! Including the extra chocolates that came out with the coffee and the delicious dessert wine, red this time. I absolutely adore the habit in Chile, and specially in Argentina, to bring chocolate with the coffee.
So, once again, we got back to the hotel in no doubt that we were not going to be able to sit down to a dinner and were happy with the canape and glass of wine at the hotel bar before calling it an early night since our pick up the next morning was for 8 AM for the Aconcagua Experience Tour.
All in all, I am really exceptionally impressed with the high standards of the tours, the service, and the professionalism
of the guides.
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