A Life in Travel

3 minutes reading time (672 words)

Be informed. Read the label.

Our first Argentina wine tour tasting was one of the most informed enoteca experiences I've ever had. We started at the Bonfanti family vineyard walking through the vines with Alejandro Bonfandi, one of two sons who own and operate their estate winery. Roberto, their father, manages the vineyard; Sebastian, one of the sons is the winemaker; and Alejandro runs the business side. Familia Bonfanti is a boutique micro-winery located in the Lujan de Cuyo in the upper Mendoza Valley. The estate dates back to 1915 when their Italian grandfather planted the first vineyard to Malbec and in 2005 they completed their state of the art micro winery.  Situated on a beautiful property olive trees are intermingled in the vineyards, colorful red roses bloom at the end of trellised vines with views of the Andes in the stunning blue sky on the horizon.

We're ready to help harvest grapes on our Argentina wine tour
they're not quite ready. Pray for no rain!
On this trip we are visiting boutique vintners who produce just a few thousand bottles per year and several other well known more commercial brands that produce over a million bottles. A main difference among the boutique vintners such as Bonfanti is harvest and production is done by hand on the estate. So Alejandro proudly started our visit in the vines then through the production facilities where grapes are treated gently and hand stirred in the fermentation tanks, then into the cellar to see the casks, and finally the tasting room.
The skin on these malbec grapes are just about ready for harvest.
He is so knowledgeable, friendly and well-spoken, open to any questions, especially this bing our first estate visit. He obviously became more engaged in the conversation facilitated by queries and demonstrations in the field from David and Ruth who have been on many professional wine maker tours. Harvent has just begun in Mendoza and the Bonfanti family is hoping to reap the plump purple grapes hanging off the vine next week. It’s a great opportunity for us to taste different varietals on the vine, break open the grapes to assess their structure, the juice and pulp, and most importantly the skin that contains the tannins, color and flavors that make up the essence of the wine.

Alejandro's final message was be informed and read the label
to pick your favorite wines!
Anticipation is in the air in Mendoza. These are the days when the winemakers are in the fields everyday using their taste buds and high tech instruments to measure sugar content, acidity and other factors to determine the prime moment when the grapes are to be taken off the vine. Despite all the technical considerations and careful expert assessment by the winemaker, Alejandro looked up to the heavens and reminded us that estate winemakers are just like farmers anywhere, “We get just one salary per year and it totally depends on the skies above.”

Back in the tasting room, Alejandro insisted that we not pick our bottled wines at the store by the name of the grape, but that we learn to carefully read the technical details provided on the label and ask the retail wine seller for further details. He introduced us to many of these factors all of which contribute to the character and taste of every bottle. After leaving Bonfanti we were well equipped to better assess all the wines we would taste not only by how they looked and tasted, but by considering the site where the grapes were grown including the soil type, alcoholic content, the mix of varietals, the conditions at harvest for that vintage, time in oak and if it was French or American oak.
Roses glorify the vineyards and serve as the canary in the coal mine by
giving farmers an early warning if a fungus is on site as it shows up first on the
rose petals in which case growers react quickly to quash the outbreak.

keeping it wild,

Kurt Kutay

Want to travel to Argentina? Check out Wildland Adventures trips to Argentina
"Just how do they get those aromas into the wine?"
Mendoza a la boca!

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