TBT – Mendoza 2008 . . . On Two Wheels

Once again in honor of TBT, we want to take a trip back to what we consider a second homeland for us:  Argentina.  While we did not live in Mendoza but rather in Buenos Aires, it was Mendoza that first piqued our interest in moving to this amazing South American Country.  Step back with us to 2008 on our first day in Mendoza staying in the city proper.  We only stayed there two days before heading off to Chacras de Coria, a small village located just a few km from the city of Mendoza, to stay at Casa Glebinias.  Highly recommended for everyone.  Both the town AND the lodging.

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What to do,what to do? Apparently doing biking around Mendoza is a very common thing to do.  Who knew.  But sadly, we arrived at the bike rental shop a little late and got stuck with whatever was left in the shop..  It was obvious we were not the only ones thinking a bike ride around Mendoza was the thing to do.

Twenty minutes later we were saddled up and ready to hit the road. All was good. Um, not so fast.

About 40 minutes later my bike gears started shifting and grinding and making strange noises. Mike, a very knowledgeable cyclist took a look and realized something was wrong, . . . very, very wrong. Figuring out what was wrong with the bike was much easier than figuring out how to call Gerardo at the bike shop on our cell phones with a Buenos Aires phone number. After 4 or 5 tries adding and subtracting various numbers (city codes, country codes and God only knows what else), I suggested that Mike go into the gas station (that we were very lucky to break down in front of). After another 3 or 4 tries by a local, Mike finally reached the shop.

IMG_3246After explaining the problem, Gerardo told Mike he would be by in about 10-15 minutes to help.  Unfortunately all of the bikes from the shop were rented for the day so he couldn’t even bring me another one. Instead, he told us we had to go back to the shop so he could replace the tire. After trying endlessly to get a taxi to pick us up, but to no avail, we ended up walking the bikes the 20 minutes back to the shop for repairs.

About 20 minutes later they told me I was good to go. I hopped on the bike and immediately realized something else was wrong. The tire they replaced on my bike was flat. Back to the shop I went so they could fill it with air. Once again I was told I was ready to go.

Back on the main drag I started to hear a clicking noise and all of a sudden my water bottle fell out of its holder along with the holder itself falling off the bike. I figured that must have been what I had heard. I picked up the bottle and kept riding. Unfortunately the noise didn’t stop. Mike and I switched bikes thinking he might be able to figure out what was wrong. But unfortunately, this time he didn’t have a clue.

After a few more blocks we realized how unsafe this was and we didn’t really want to get too far away from town with a bicycle that would most likely break down again.

Uno ves mas!! One more time back to the shop we went. But this time was to return the bikes and get our money back. We tried, we really, really tried to do something physical and not just stuff our faces with food and wine. I guess it just wasn’t meant to be. My response at this time was basically . . .F*ck it, let’s get a drink!!

Earlier in the day we had thought we would get sandwiches and a bottle of wine and have a picnic in Parque San Martin. From where our hotel was it was quite a hike on foot but it would have been a breeze by bike. We didn’t want the day to be a total waste so we thought we would continue on with our original plan (but this time on foot) and start our way to park, pick some sandwiches and a BIG bottle of wine along the way.

But unfortunately, if we thought the town was dead on a Saturday it is worse . . . 100% worse, on Sunday. And it was Mother\s Day to boot. ABSOLUTELY nothing was open to get sandwiches to go and those restaurants that were open were all crowded with large families.

In the end. . . while not a total bust (we did drink some great vino as usual later on), it was time to put this one in the books and head over to Chacras de Coria ASAP!!

We wrote about our first day of Mendoza wine touring in an earlier post and now we are on to Day Two of the Evron Wine Tour. But no driver today. Instead we were on two wheels.

After the debacle of renting bikes in Mendoza centro, I was a bit hesitant about repeating the performance, but while Mike was persistent and with wine as a prize, I relented. Thankfully Alberto and Maria Gracia took care of the rental with a very reputable company.

Armed with map and a couple of helmets we were on our way.

IMG_3481A few days earlier we had an awesome bottle of Cavas de Weinert Gran Vino 2002 when we had dinner at Azafran in Medoza centro. We were thrilled to find out that the bodega was very close to where we were staying.

We arrived with no reservation and they were about to close for siesta when we got to the gate, but after tossing around the name of Casa Glebinias, they graciously took us in for a quick tour and tasting.

Ileana was our tour guide and we tasted a couple of their Carrascal’s. A 2008 Savignon Blanc/Pinot Noir blend and a 2005 Malbec, Cabernet and Merlot blend as well as a non alcoholic Moscatel Rosado.

We ended up buying a bottle of the Cavas de Weinert Gran Vino 2002 that we had at the restaurant!! Not a shabby a way to start our day.

IMG_3489But our ultimate destination for the day was Bodega Vistalba which is located in the aptly named Vista Alba region of Mendoza. It is a boutique winery that was started by Carlos Pulenta to create amazing wines in an amazing setting. As the pictures hopefully show, he succeeded.

Also on the grounds of the bodega is the restaurant La Bourgogne which features the cuisine of Jean-Paul Bondoux, the top French chef in South America.

“Applying classic French techniques to the best Mendoza products, La Bourgogne exemplifies some of the finest high-end dining in the region.”

Or so we were told by The Vines of Mendoza. Some pretty high expectations.

After a few mishaps . . . me falling off my bike and landing in an irrigation ditch (thankfully a dry one), stopping for directions and Mike still riding right past the bodega having not seen it and leaving me in the dust, we finally reached the “”pearly gates”” of La Bourgogne.

While we didn’t have a reservation, we once again threw around the name of Casa Glebenias which we were learning seemed to have some pull in the area, as they offered us a table on the patio. We were thrilled!!

Time for lunch. As this was not pre-arranged, we ordered a la carte off the menu. Just the way we like it!!

IMG_3501_001IMG_3499_001To start, I chose the grilled octopus on brioche toast marinated in olive oil, with orange and red bell peppers while Mike chose the mushroom carpaccio with pate, herbs ensalada and dry ham vinaigrette. The main courses were the Black Angus tenderloin with rosemary and mushroom gratin in a red wine sauce for me while Mike opted for the Risotto with mushrooms, fennel and topped with a French white fish.IMG_3504_001

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IMG_3509This was all washed down with a bottle of the Vistalba Corte B 2004 (which turned out to be one of our favorites).

IMG_3510I don’t want to forget about dessert which was a chocolate and hazelnut volcan with ginger sorbet. A perfect topper to an excellent meal.

They were also kind enough to allow us to join the next English-speaking tour that was starting shortly after we finished lunch. Our tour guide Cecilia was awesome as was the winery, the tour, the restaurant and most importantly, the wines.

If ever in the area, Vistalba and La Bourgogne are definite MUST SEES!

For us though the day wasn’t over. We still have to bike back to the Villa. I was a bit concerned about biking after such a heavy lunch but I have to say, the wine sure helped. I guess going down hill did too!

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