Wine tasting is exhausting work. Just look at us.
This was at Ernesto Catena, this amazing vineyard in the Uco Valley in Mendoza. All we wanted to do was stay in these hammocks, sparkling Malbec in hand, and doze off into siesta land. Alas, we had lots to do!
First up, lunch. We devoured these just-made empanadas with Ernesto’s yummy Chardonnay/Viognier Alma Negra V Blend, then fresh trout right from the river and carrot chimichurri with Alma Negra M Blend (a light, plummy Bonarda-based blend). They said they don’t really know the percentage of the grapes that go into their blends, choosing to just blend til they like it without keeping precise track.
Post-lunch siesta? No, no. We walked through the vineyards where we checked out their gorgeous rose garden, llama pasture, and a cool experimental wine room that I called the Willy Wonka room. (the vineyards are certfied organic and they’re going for biodynamic certification too, so all these places contribute to the contained ecosystem.) The experiment building reminded me of the room in the Wonka factory where he was experimenting with the candy that would physically transport you to another place and Mike TV gobbled it down to bad results. Instead of candy, though, we sampled some of the new Cab Franc fermented in concrete eggs, some Malbec fermented in specially designed pyramid-shaped tanks, and also an easy drinking rosé. And unlike Mike TV, we all remained in one piece; the only change was that we were a little happier.
Then we took horses through the vineyards. There were two carts but by the time I got to them they were full so I got to ride one of the horses with this guy Luis. I hadn’t been on a horse in years so Luis was a little more skilled than I was and we can leave it at that! But I did provide him with much amusement.
Ok so now we figured it was siesta time – but no! There were more wines to taste. My favorite was the super smooth Gran Misterio 2009 ($90), with a touch of cocoa powder and an elegant black currant flavor. It’s a mix of what they called “interesting” grapes – the best of everything in the vineyards out of their Bonarda, Malbec, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc, and Syrah – so I thought at first it might be a mess, but it was really well balanced and unique.
I never did get an actual siesta. But a few days later in Buenos Aires, I did get a package sent to my hotel: a box of their Siesta Wine, a blend of Malbec and Cab Franc. I’m pretty sure that was better than a siesta anyway.