Eager for some bodega-hopping in Mendoza, Margaret and I woke up 7:45, ate some breakfast at our hostel, and asked hostel staff for advice about traveling between bodegas.
First of all, you may be wondering, “What is a bodega?” This is an important clarification, as a number of mendocinos corrected me when saying, “Vamos a las viñas.” We weren’t going to the vineyards –as I had mistakenly stated– rather, we were going to the bodegas. According to Word Reference, a bodega is a “lugar donde se guarda, cría o fabrica el vino.” A place where wine is kept, matured or made. The vineyards, or viñas, are the yards of vines, if you will. The place with the growing grapes, if we want to be informal.
Now that we understand the distinction between bodegas and vineyards, back to our morning. Margaret and I had a list of vineyards we were hoping to “hit up” throughout the day, but we wanted to double-check with hostel staff to ensure that our goals were feasible. We hoped to adventure through Maipú in the morning via bike then make our way to Valle de Uco to visit the famous Catena Zapata. Unfortunately, our hopes were quickly shattered because 1) There was no easy way to travel from Maipú to Valle de Uco, 2) Catena Zapata requires reservations, and 3) The big-name bodegas were closed for the day due to workers’ huelgas (strikes).
Regardless of the strikes, Margaret and I made our way to Maipú by bus. We found Mr. Hugo’s bikes (recommended to us by a friend), and rented bikes for $50 (ARG) each. Mr. Hugo greeted us personally, his wife gave us advice and a map of local bodegas, and his what-I’m-assuming-to-be-son gave us bikes. Essentially SIX DOLLARS for this quality service. Needless to say, everyone should experience Mr. Hugo’s bikes. Here are some pictures of Mr. Hugo’s setup.
Our first stop was Domiciano, a relatively-new bodega boutique that opened in 2005. Our guide, Yael, greeted us with Chardonnay, which was surprisingly refreshing and delicious. We also met a guy from Australia who had just spent a month in Ann Arbor doing research because the Hatcher Graduate Library had some publications from a famous author he’s writing a book about. Small world. Here are a couple pictures of the bodega.
Take a second to admire how many people visited this bodega by bike. Mr. Hugo is a popular dude.
One of my favorite details about Bodega Domiciano is their logo; it features a man, 5 stars, and their name. Why a man and stars? Because Domiciano is known for harvesting their grapes at night. How cool is that?
Domiciano Part One: Grape-tasting in a few rows of vines
I hesitate to use the term vineyard, since the grapes at the bodega existed solely for the purpose of showing tourists. Domiciano’s actual vineyards –with the grapes that produce their wine– are located off-site, in Barrancas. Since mid-March falls right during harvesting season, Margaret and I had the opportunity to try Malbec and Shiraz grapes from the vines. We both liked Malbec better and assumed it was probably because it was the one we tried first, and there’s just something special about that.
Domiciano Part Two: Fermentation Station + La Cava
After falling in love with the vines, we headed indoors to see where the wine spends its life maturing.
Domiciano Part Three: Bottling
Once sufficiently fermented, the wine moves from epoxy cement pools (or French Oak casks) to glass bottles. We had the opportunity to watch the bottling process. Pretty cool!
The tour at Bodega Domiciano only cost $40 (ARG) per person, and I would highly recommend it to anyone else who decides to make a visit to Maipú!
After our tour at Bodega Domiciano, Margaret and I headed to another bodega; Tempus Alba. We weren’t aware during our time there, but the bodega had been closed earlier in the day due to the workers’ strikes. Turns out we were lucky we had the chance to visit! At Tempus Alba, we enjoyed free 5-step self-guided tour ending at a terrace overlooking the vineyard. Here are some pictures from our visit.
Hello, Tempus Alba. When entering these doors, visitors see 6 frames displaying the bodega’s dogma in Spanish. I thoroughly enjoyed it, so I made sure to take note of it to share with others:
Somos el génesis de un modo nuevo de hacer vino, queremos que nuestra pasión por lo que hacemos se beba y se traduzca en un idioma universal.
Vivimos a la par de nuestros viñedos, creciendo, sufriendo, gozando con cada nueva cosecha.
Criamos nuestros vinos como quien prepara un hijo para la vida: honesto, noble, complejo, único.
Por ello, damos fé de nuestro trabajo y compromiso a que nuestra bodega cumpla este dogma.
Todo proyecto deberá ser sustentable, dando un uso inteligente a los recursos teniendo en cuenta siempre a la tierra, la vid, quienes la trabajan y quienes disfrutan del esfuerzo de producir vino.
Toda bodega tendrá un Malbec como icono de nuestra tierra para el mundo.
Todo emprendimiento no superará los 300,000 litros de producción a fin de garantizar el mayor de los esmeros en la elaboración del vino.
Todo vino que surja de esta bodega será elaborado con uva proveniente de viñedos propios, pues esta es la única forma de garantizar a través de los años la cualidades propias del terruño.
Toda bodega aspirará a tener la mejor tecnología para la producción de sus vinos dando muestra permanente de innovación y espíritu de superación.
Todo aquel que elabore vino bajo este dogma honrará a su familia, su sangre, pues hacemos vinos para nosotros, para nuestros hijos y para los hijos de nuestros hijos. Todo cuidado de la vid será intensivo, toda tarea será dedicada.
Toda botella tendrá un valor, más allá del económico, por lo cual jamás se regalará un vino nacido del dogma.
Toda producción aunque tenga por destino el mercado internacional deberá tener presencia en el mercado nacional, a fin de devolver a hacer parte al consumidor argentino del fruto de la pasión y el trabajo de la bodega.
Toda bodega será siempre atendida por sus dueños.
Toda innovación en los canales de distribución será valorada.
Todo intercambio franco de ideas entre cotegas y competidores será promovido, pues es base de este dogma cooperar para competir unir para crecer.
Legamos este Dogma como base para el desafío de hacer vino de un modo diferente: cerca de la tierra y a un paso del cielo.
En la certeza de estar creando individuos que hablen de pasión, esfuerzo y coraje a todo el mundo en el idioma universal del vino.
Somos lo que hacemos.
Enjoyed this perfect weather.
Loved the style of this wine bar.
Checker board with wine corks. I want to make this.
Olive trees at Tempus Alba. I had never seen an olive tree before, so this was quite an exciting moment for me.
After Tempus Alba, Margaret and I made our way to our third and last bodega of the day, Mevi. We sat on the patio y tomamos el sol por un rato, but then decided to head back to town, since we had dinner reservations. Here are a couple of pictures from Mevi!