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21. Wine tasting in Mendoza and a police escort

Mendoza, Argentina

sunny 25 °C

13th November 2011

It's a beautiful day, and the sun is shining. Femke and I have decided to take a bus out to the wine region of Maipu and hire bicycles when we get there. At the bus stop, we meet two other girls who had the same idea. We hire our bicycles and with our map set off for the furthest vineyard 15kms away. A couple of kms out of town and vineyards open up all around us. It's very pretty. We stop at Di Tomasco, a family run brewery, where we eat a rustic home cooked meal and take our first wine tour. We're shown the fermenting process and the storage tanks but happy to finally try the wine we've come to try. We sample the white Torrentes - unique to Argentina. It's crisp but refreshing. Next is a red Malbec, a Cabernet Sauvignon and then a Rose. They are all good, but with a full day of wine tasting ahead of us, we decide not to rush the purchases. We move on to the next vineyard, an ultra modern one, with a gallery attached.

At our fourth vineyard, we select a bottle of wine rather than take a tour, and sit out on the terrace in the sun. Here, we meet a group of twelve people doing the same. We join them and before long we order another bottle. It's 5.30, and we decide we have just enough time to get to another vineyard before it closes. At this last one, I pick the wine tasting menu again and I'm given five half glasses of various different red and whites. I purchase a nice bottle of red and put it safely in the basket on the front of my bike. We sit on white leather sofas on the gorgeous terrace that overlooks the vineyard and watch the sunset. This is the life!

We are all sat enjoying the wine and having a good laugh when the owners tell us that the police are waiting for us outside. We are puzzled but think, in our tipsy state, that it is amusing. Apparently the vineyard closed an hour ago and the owners are getting pressure for still serving us. It appears that the police go round and check all the vineyards at the end of the day. We are informed that we are the only tourists left on the wine route and that it is too dangerous to cycle home alone. Presumably what they mean is that we are a danger to ourselves, since there are sixteen of us and we are still 10kms out of town. We are told this is not the case. Doubting this, but deciding not to annoy the South American policemen we jump on our bikes and head home. We set off, giggling. Sure enough the police car escorts us, lights flashing, all the way. We even have outriders!

I hit a bump at speed and my lovely bottle of red jumps out my front basket and hurtles towards the ground before I have even realised. It smashes all over the road. I pull over but one of the outriders stops and tells me to leave it and keep going. We make it back to town unscathed but with one less bottle of wine. Oh well. The only thing we can do is to head to a bar in the hope of finding a similar bottle...

Posted by Jayne Breckon 22:26 Archived in Argentina Tagged mendoza wine_tasting_in_mendoza argentina_self_wine_tour maipu_winaries maipu_cycling maipu_wine_tour; things_to_do_in_argentina; things_to_do_in_mendoza;

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