Mendoza is world famous for wine, so of course we had to spend a day wine tasting while we were there. We first went to Tempus Alba, a 5th generation family owned winery, where we learned about the extensive scientific approach to growing Malbec wine. Mendoza has very low humidity and a near constant breeze which provides good ventilation to the vineyards. Because of this, there is naturally less fungal infections which are the number one cause of grape disease, necessitating less pesticide use in the region. There are hail storms, which is why the vineyards are covered in black netting to prevent crop losses. Five percent of the province is irrigated, which provides the most vital resource to the vineyards: water.
Tempus Alba spent thirteen years studying the various Malbec grapes in a variety of regions across the province to narrow the plants down to 16 mother Malbec plants for the vineyard. The vines are propagated by cuttings because seeds allow for too much mutation.
The color of wine comes from the skin of the grape, while the tannins come from the seed. The more sun, the more sugar in the grape, and the higher the alcohol percent. Mendoza wine is well known for its high alcohol content because of the greater than 300 days of sunshine per year it receives. The five stages of wine making are harvesting, crushing/pressing, fermentation, clarification, and aging/bottling. The oak barrels used for aging are the most expensive part of the wine making production costing 900 euros per barrel.
We learned how to do a proper tasting by analyzing the color, the aroma, and lastly the taste of the wine. And of course, the best wine is the wine you enjoy the most. Their famous wine, Vero, is the premier Malbec wine and stands for the names of their three kids.
We also toured Bodega Lagarde, the oldest vineyard in Mendoza. It was started by a Portuguese family in 1897 and is well known for its organic Malbec DOC, a selective type of Malbec only grown in the region from wineries over 80 years old.
We toured an olive oil factory called Pasrai and had a paired lunch afterwards at our final winery. Our brief stop in Mendoza was everything we had hoped for. Next up, Antarctica!