If you´re eager to get out of the heat and crowded streets of Buenos Aires, a cheap flight to Mendoza for a weekend of tranquility and Malbec wine tasting is the perfect escape. Rather than staying in Mendoza itself, high-tail it to Chacras, an adorable and quaint town just a few kilometres away. Casa la Galeana Hotel and Cavas is the perfect hideaway for those looking for some peace and quiet. Located just a few blocks outside the main „hub“ of Chacras, it`s a one story ancient stone building, with gorgeous gardens, an outdoor pool, sauna, and terraces spilling off the building to soak up the sunshine. I stayed in Room 1, next to a lovely reading room where you can curl up with a tea and book. The best part though, is that the hotel is happy to equip you with a bicycle, helmet, lock, and saddle bags for $10 a day, all you need to explore the nearby vineyards and make your own bike and wine tasting tour. Just a short ride away down sun-soaked roads is Luigi Bosca bodega.
Luigi Bosca is a massive operation, a white warehouse surrounded by lush flowering bushes and creeping vines. We went through the fermentation rooms and barrel rooms in a similar fashion as most wine tours in Mendoza (some other options here, here, here, and here). While the wine is processed on site, the grapes come from vineyards scattered around Argentina. The standard tasting includes four wines – a young Chardonnay, a Malbec, a blend, and a brut sparkler. After a morning tasting you´ll likely be hankering for lunch – if you don´t feel like a classy vineyard lunch try cycling over to a roadside Rotisseria, a classic Argentina staple, where you will find no frills, cheap-like-borscht roast chicken, greasy pizza, and empanadas. Thoroughly revived, it was on to Altavista vineyard up the road, the afternoon heat getting more and more intense.
Altavista greets you with a lovely lawn, set up with picnic baskets and dining tables for those having lunch there. It is positively idyllic, with grapes stretching out until the mountains in the distance.
The 2nd of their 3 tier pricing option includes a taste of their signature Alto red blend, something I highly recommend splurging for. The tasting includes five wines, a lovely sparkling pinot noir-Chardonnay, Torrontes, and red blend, followed by two very special wines, a single vineyard Malbec and the Alto. Altavista was the first vineyard in Mendoza to work with single-vineyard wines, a very in-vogue concept these days, along with single origin chocolate. The sommelier cracked open a bar of 70% Venezuelan chocolate so we could taste the wine with the chocolate, a positively delightful idea.
The finale, the Alto wine, was definitely all it was cracked up to be – an impossibly smooth, rich, deep wine, although the bottle price was a bit rich for my blood.
Altavista is a lovely in all respects – location, staff, and wine. They also have vineyards in France and Hungary – more information at the website here.
With the sun getting lower in the sky, I hopped back on my chariot to pedal home to Casa la Galeana. Even if you don’t stay at the hotel, dinner at the restaurant is highly recommended, set in the most lovely garden littered with grape vines, trees, and lanterns. Dining under the stars is never a bad idea!