Here we are in Mendoza Argentina for the fifth time in 10 years, myself, wife Flor and her two sisters are here for the annual month long Vendemia (wine festival ) which includes parades, wine tasting and seminars for vintners and growers from all over the world.
After the flight from San Francisco (18 hours including a 4 hour layover in Panama) , we arrived at midnight and a quick 45 minutes later were in our rooms at the Park Hyatt Mendoza ($137/ night because my sister in law has corporate connections ).
Because of the inflated peso it is cheaper here than two years ago- a 5 minute taxi ride is $1.45, fabulous meals in great restaurants are 1/2 price and we always order wine by the bottle instead of the glass because the wine is so reasonable.
We come to Mendoza mainly for the daily excursions to the wineries for tastings and excellent outdoor lunches. Our long time friend -driver,Pedro Morales,drives us all over the province for $70 per day. When we are not on our winery excursions we shop around town, stroll around the tree lined streets, beautiful parks and eat at our favorite restaurants and lounge around on the hotel balcony overlooking the grandPlaza Indepencia.
Ok, winery excursions, here we go:
Azul Restaurant and winery in the Uco Valley, a hour and one half drive from Mendoza. The rustic outdoor restaurant is plopped down in the middle of a wildflower strewn meadow with the mammoth, majestic snow capped Andes for a view. This is one of those special places like Monet’s garden or the south of France where the latitudes and longitudes intersect to create a unique ambiance of tranquility and beauty; everyone is happy and even the dogs are smiling.
After a warm greeting by the owner, we started our meal:
A corn pudding topped with sun dried tomatoes with sauvignon blanc, the bottle left on the table.
A plump, juicy house made sausage with a mini hot dog bun with a young, light estate Cabernet.
A beef empanada with chimichuri sauce with a young malbec.
Our choice of grilled rib eye, oven baked pork shoulder or asado chicken. This time a grand reserve malbec blend.
Wonderful ambience, soft summer wind, the smell of grass and wildflowers intermingled with the smoke from the asado grill made for a memorable lunch ($18 per person).
We purchased their wines, $2 for the young cab and $6 for the grand reserve blend.