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Mendoza - Wine Country Argentina !

The next day, it was off to Bodega Weinert, a smaller winery just outside the main center of Mendoza. A friend of a friend in the States had mentioned that if in Mendoza, go to Weinert and visit with Hubert. It turned out to be the best advice possible!  When I and Dustin got there, we were met by Hubert, with whom I had traded many emails but had yet to meet and did not know exactly what position he held at Weinert.  It just so happens that he is the winemaker and is responsible for nearly every minute detail that goes into the process.  He then proceeded to take us on an amazing tour of both the winemaking operation and the cellar, which dates back to 1890. They harvest all their grapes by hand as all the grapes are selected while they are being picked.  They also cask age all their wines as opposed to using barrels.  This is an older technique and as Hubert told us, it adds a different flavor. These casks are huge and made up of different types of oak depending on what part of the cask they are to be used. They range in age between 80 and 120 years old and take 2 men one year to make. After the tour, it was time for the tasting, one I will never forget.

Hubert started us off with white Carrascal, which is the wineryís low-end label and made with 100% Sauvignon Blanc. But to my surprise it was bright, dry and very smooth. Not the citrus and crisp ones Iím used to in the States, but a bit more elegant in flavor with only the mildest hint of sweetness.  Next was one of my favorites, the Rose.  While many people still donít make room for Rose in their cabinets, this is a perfect summertime wine. Mostly Cabernet and Malbec, with a little Cab Franc and Camay, the color is brilliant and different flavors come out depending on the temperature once poured in the glass. Another favorite, the 2006 Tempranillo Pedro de Castillo, a Spanish grape growing in popularity in Argentina and the name refers to the man credited with settling Mendoza.  Then came the 2006 red Carrascal, which is comprised of Merlot, Cab and Malbec, and the 2006 Merlot. The Carrascal was a nice blend and the Merlot was delicate and rich, but Hubert let it be known that it needed another 2-4 years in the bottle before it reached its best. The sixth wine of the tasting brought out some bigger bottles. We tried the 1997 Merlot Gran Vino, showed how much a little more age can really add to the flavor.  Much more complex and the vineyards high-end line, the best Merlot Iíve ever had from South America.  Then on to the Malbec! A 2005 to start, which we were told was a great year weather-wise and had been aged in the cask for 3 years before being moved to bottles. Classic spiciness mixed with dark plum and tobacco notes really highlight the grape, which is the most planted in Mendoza. At this point I thought we were done, however, Hubert seemed to be enjoying himself as much as we were and broke out the 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon. Just starting to hit its stride, it was a classic Cab that gave me a much deeper respect for Argentine grapes. Then out came the philosophy wine and an excellent blend of Cab, Malbec and Merlot, similar to that of the Carrascal, but these are the prime grapes and it is aged 3-4 years in the oak casks. Hubert actually told us his process of making this wine and compared it to creating a symphony. At this point, we were all in a very good mood and when one of us asked in what year the first wines were bottled, Hubert replied in 1977. I joked that was the year I was born and out of nowhere, Hubert asked which í77 I wanted to open. I couldnít believe it! After a little prodding from Hubert, I relented and asked for the Cavas de Weinert. He dusted off a bottle, no label, and opened it, poured it, and we waited while it opened up. Again, to my surprise, it opened rather quickly to which Hubert said, after tasting, that it could have stayed in the bottle another 10 years or so.  We each had a taste and Hubert gave me the bottle to take with me.  As we each picked out a bottle opener and got ready to pay we said our goodbyes to Hubert and he disappeared back to work. But he had one last surprise, the wine, openers, tour and tasting were all on the house! Thank you Hubert and Bodega Weinert! If I wasnít traveling around the world, I wouldíve bought a bunch. So for you Stateside, rest assured, they sell some of their wines in the US and you can have anything shipped. www.bodegaweinert.com

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