Tag Archives: tempranillo

Mendoza

Imagine yourself at a table in Mendoza city. Food is terrific and tasty. The dishes in front of your nose are a myriad of delights: regional cheeses; salmon, trout; baked beef served with chimichurri sauce; locro, a dish of maize, beans, and pig’s feet; fried empanadas; tomatican, cherry tomatoes cooked with spring onions and eggs; Figassa butter bread; carne a la olla, meat and white wine stew in an iron pot; and spicy humita en chala sauce.

All of these tasty and hearty dishes are served with the finest wine of the province. Home to two-thirds of Argentina’s entire wine production, Mendoza has steadily been climbing the ranks of the finest wine regions of the world. Nestled in the foothills of the Andes, in the shadow of Mount Aconcagua, these vineyards cultivate acres of Criolla Grande, Cereza, Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo, and Chardonnay. These vines arrived with the Spaniards and share a common ancestry with the grapes in Chile and Peru.

The city of Mendoza herself has no end to sights and attractions. Explore one of the many parks, Mendoza Museum of Modern Art, the beautiful Plaza Espana. Just 14 km of town is the historic 1890 Casa de Fader, once home to the famous artist Fernando Fader. The heart of Mendoza is easy to navigate; you can walk or take one of the many affordable taxis around town. Stay at a downtown hotel for easy access, near the Plaza Independencia, a fantastic four blocks teeming with hustle and bustle. Wander down the nearby Sarmiento road, plop down at a café, watch the locals meander by while you sip on 6-peso-espresso.

Like all wine regions, the Mendoza province is best sampled in a private car—which gives you the flexibility and freedom to visit winery after winery. Keep in mind to book ahead well in advance, perhaps even with a professional—many wineries prefer if you arrive on a tour. For the best convenience and bang for your buck, you can fly from Buenos Aires and book a guided tour that will show you around. Wineries are still establishing themselves as an industry in Argentina, so your vineyard tours will likely be informal but with plenty of tastings. Many businesses don’t have the infrastructure or roads to handle too many tourists yet, so it’s best to organize a tour beforehand with a travel agent. Just remember: don’t drink and drive!

Want to sample the best of Mendoza’s Malbecs? Speak with our agents at Willamette Intl Travel for more information and suggestions for your Argentine itinerary. Call us at 800-821-0401 or email info@wittravel.com.

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My favorite recipe for chimichurri

1 bunch flat leaf parsley

8 cloves garlic, minced

3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1 lemon wedge (juice of)

1 tablespoon diced red onion

1 teaspoon dried oregano (optional)

1 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt

 

Directions:

1.       Pulse parsley in processor to chop.
2.      Add remaining ingredients and blend.
3.      Separate sauce into equal parts.
4.      Use half for basting or marinade, and half for table service.

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Filed under Argentina, South America, Travel by Taste

Travel Tips: Bringing Home Wines from your Vacation

You’re outside on the porch of a charming tapas restaurant in La Rioja, enjoying the aromas and sultry flavors of the best tempranillo you’ve ever had. There’s a faint air of melancholy over your head—you will be returning home in tomorrow, and mourn your last drops as they gradually trickle down your throat. If only you could ship bottles home without hassle! Many a traveler has had this very dilemma—but despair not. Willamette Intl Travel offers some tips to avoid weighing your suitcase down or breaking those precious bottles.

–          Pack well: To avoid the risk of breakage, stuff your bottles in a sock and store in a water-tight plastic bag. Smothering with clothes will protect it from shifting during the flight. Make sure the outer shell of the luggage is hard—no duffel bags.

–          Share with your friends: If you have traveling companions, talk them into dividing the bottles among you—but beware! Don’t give your wine away to a fellow oenophile, or you may never get it back!

–          Weigh the bottle: A bottle typically weighs three pounds, so consider this when you are sticking them in your already overstuffed suitcase. There’s also the price: if you bring more than 1 liter, customs tend to require payment of 3% in duty tax.

–          Invest in a wine suitcase: For the frequent traveler/oenophile, consider buying a wine suitcase with a stainless steel shell that protects and withstands extreme temperatures. This can be a considerable investment though, so think before you buy.

–          Check the distributor list: Maybe, just maybe, that perfect blend you found in Mendoza ships to the USA. Do the research, and you won’t have to do the hauling.

–          Avoid wineskins: These containers have some benefits–and might be a great protective container for land travel–but the downside is that they are not resealable. WIT Agent Nancy has had the repetitive experience of wineskins being opened by the TSA and resealed with duct tape! “At least they didn’t drink the wine,” she says dolefully. “There has not been a time this hasn’t happened.”

–          Ship it: laws governing wine shipment differ state by state, but it’s definitely worth it if yours does. Some wineries will even waive shipping charges.

–          DO NOT attempt to stick it in your carry-on: Since 2001, TSA safety regulations prohibit liquids larger than 3.4 oz past airport security checkpoints (unless purchased in duty-free stories beyond). They’ll just confiscate your bottles, and you’ll have to say goodbye then and there!


Good Luck and A Votre Santé!


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Filed under Travel by Taste, Travel Tips