Getting up at 3:30 AM in pitch black is uncivilized but we had to do it. We had to catch a 6:00 AM flight from Buenos Aires to Mendoza and that was even cutting it close. With just two days in Mendoza, a place I’ve been dreaming about for years, we had a lot to squeeze into 36 hours.
Still bleary eyed, our driver headed towards our first winery. An hour later, we got out of the car in the middle of some kind of vineyard dreamland. Surrounded by vines with the majestic snow-capped Andes as the backdrop, this was our first chance to see why people talk the way they talk about Mendoza. Immediately, I could see it was more a state of mind than anything else. Was it my lack of sleep or was I in a trance?
Renee, Lauri, Barbara and I walked towards the showroom/tasting room of Cheval des Andes, a much proclaimed winery owned by Cheval Blanc of Saint Emilion in Bordeaux.
No ordinary winery, this blonde wood-framed glass room with 360 degree vineyard views make Opus views pale in comparison. We walked the four steps to get inside and already we all looked more beautiful. All the glass doors were open to the breezes, vines, polo fields and I had the sense that I didn’t know if I was outside or inside.
And who is that half stallion/half man wearing faded jeans, soft blue plaid shirt and summer scarf draped deliberately haphazard around his neck? Yes that one, the one strolling across the polo fields? There was no tango music but I swear I could hear it.
With tired, burning eyes, I couldn’t take my eyes off this scene, probably one of the sexiest images I've seen in my life. Why would I think any differently? After all, this is Mendoza, Argentina.
I had an incredible urge to run to the bathroom and touch-up my lipstick which I am sure by now was well faded. Oh, why didn't I wear that Giada-like top I had packed in my suitcase? And then he climbed those four stairs. I could hear his cowboy boots with each step.
And for the next couple hours, Nicolas Audebert, chief winemaker for Cheval des Andes, entertained us. He poured us his deep cherry colored ’06 Cheval des Andes Malbec Cabernet blend, which hinted of floral notes mixed with cedar, tobacco, red fruit jam and chocolate. It was well balanced with long and elegant sweet-silky tannins on the finish. Am I falling in love? With the wine, I mean!
“Grab your glass, let’s sit outside!” Nicolas said. I’ll do whatever he says, I thought. And I had no intention of putting my glass down either until every ruby drop was gone. Sitting on white couches outside, surrounded by vines, I was caught in an Argentine moment.