I was introduced to the Argentine city of Mendoza through its wine. I bought it for no particular reason, but enjoyed it so much I decided to discover more about Mendoza. Reckoning that if they could produce such good wines there, then it should be worth a visit.
Mendoza is the name of both the capital city and the Province in which it is situated.
Unusual for a great wine growing region, Mendoza is actually situated in quite a dry desert. Thanks to its location at the foot of the Andes, the city is very well irrigated, so doesn’t actually look like a dry desert town. It is this irrigation which helps to make Mendoza such a celebrated wine growing region.
I’ve always understood that wine drinking and mountain climbing are two activities that should be separated, but as Mendoza is located close to South America’s highest mountain, Aconcagua, the two pursuits may have some crossover.
Aconcagua itself is a very imposing mountain, being the highest mountain outside the Himalayas, and something of a magnet for climbers. I am reliable informed, as I have not tried it, that Aconcagua is not a very technical climb and it is arguably the tallest non-technical mountain in the world, since the northern route does not absolutely require ropes, axes, and pins.
But I’ll leave Aconcagua to the experts, and head back to wine country.
Mendoza has a good reputation for its Malbec-style wines and there are four distinct wine growing regions in Mendoza Province
The High Zone of the Mendoza River which ranges from 800 to 1100 metres in altitude and where the Malbec is the most popular variety. The Northern Zone is lower, from 600-700 metres, and this is where they tend to produce some very good fruity whites and lighter reds.
The Eastern Zone is located at a similar altitude to the Northern Zone, and is an abundant producer of good wines, whilst the Uco Valley vineyards can be found as high as 1400 metres where the temperature is much cooler, and the wines more acidic.
It is easy to tour many of the wineries by bicycle, or by hiring your own car and driving yourself, but if you actually want to swallow the product then it is best to book onto a wine tour to let them do the driving while you do the imbibing and enjoy the best of both worlds.