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Source: Master Wine
By: Santiago Obarrio
May 2007

After 8 years of living in Brazil, I decided to return to Argentina. Even though I own 2 restaurants at Praia da Pipa, in Brazil's north east, with amazing blue ocean, permanent smiles, lots of sun and so much more, I noticed I was feeling nostalgic about Argentina's green landscapes and its mountains; whenever I spoke with my clients, I recommended them that they should travel to Argentina, specially to Mendoza, and make the wine road. Everybody saw my eyes shining, my love for nature, my taste for great wines and excellent food and looked at me silently while I recommended some great Malbec. Argentina is impossible to forget.

Rescued by a beautiful Argentine woman (there is no better reason than this), I returned to my country as soon as I had the chance, and as soon as I did I decided to do what I so much talked about when I talked about Argentina: the wine road.

The trip started in Buenos Aires where, along with Master Wine's photographer, we hoped on a powerful Citroen C5 V6 and started our pleasure journey. With decision but no hurry I took the direct road to Mendoza.

What joy I experienced with the only sight of cereal sowed countryside! How nice it was to gaze at the horizon, where blue or green are not important when what matters is the peace we experience, that lack of anxiety and confinement that's provoked by vertical grey…But I was reminded that the city hadn't been left behind yet by truck drivers who were making their 11th protest and cutting the road. I had heard of them. This was almost a tourist event for me. I know I missed lots of things when I left, but the truth is nothing we experienced amused my companion. Once in Mendoza I covered all the center area, noticed the hostel boom and that there are lots of young tourists of all around the world.

I felt finally home, new relationships, same sense of humor, advices that come along with a glass of wine…

After this first stop we continued our road trip visiting various estates in Agrelo. I must say that I was really surprised to see the huge investments that are being done by these no longer romantic nor bohemian but international and professional vineyard owners. I loved the wineries' architecture, the warm welcome to tourists, the great level of new chefs and above all the Malbec and other blends tastings.

I know Argentine people will not be amazed by this, but I saw it as any tourist would, and Argentina and specially Mendoza have nothing to envy to any other part of the world. It's already being said abroad that this is a place to live and that the best wines are produced here, and this is only the beginning.

I know lots of European people and much more Americans who are coming to live to this province, especially to Lujan de Cuyo and San Rafael. Sun 300 days a year and land 5 times cheaper than they cost in their countries are the reasons mostly heard. I made some research on the price of vineyards and noticed it has increased 500% in 8 years, but the perception of foreign friends who want to invest in this business is that in other places of the world where good wine is produced, land costs 5 times more. This increases the trend of new real estate projects concerning vineyards.

We slept in a really nice boutique hotel with spa in the area, and as I felt like staying a little longer and specially playing golf, we went to San Rafael on board of the incredible C5. We passed near Tupungato, where the mountains start to grow and the pictures at sunset are amazing. At night we arrived in San Rafael and went to Viñas del Golf Winery Lodge & Restaurant.

We left our luggage in one of the 3 bedrooms with which they have just opened their boutique hotel (they are planning to build 10 more rooms) and visited the star light vineyards on top of the golf cart. On our left, the golf course's hole 3 invited me to play the next morning and I silently accepted the challenge.

We arrived at the restaurant and had a delicious dinner. Fantastic. Of course it was all accompanied by a Viñas del Golf Grand Blend.

The next morning, and after a quiet breakfast, I went to the golf course. Luckily it was really early and there were not many players, because after so much time my 13 handicap missed the trip to San Rafael. But that didn't matter because I was calmly enjoying myself and my surrounding.

After that we went to the winery, it has a great view to hole 2 (that's for me the most beautiful). What a great project this of Ricky Jurado. What so many are trying to do now he made a long time ago. I've been told that lots can already be bought, with or without vineyards, beside the golf course. A complete development however you look at it. Really worthy of admiration, I found great pleasure in finishing the wine road there.

Before leaving, I tasted all the wines of the house, and without being an expert, I was really surprised by the Rose Grand Blend, the Bonarda and Merlot. I'm going to take them for my restaurants in Pipa.

From now on I'm only returning there to do the strong seasons because the quality of Argentine wine has no comparison, and not to say these relaxing little trips.

And when tourists ask me for another destination in South America I will go on saying Mendoza, Mendoza, Mendoza, and, if lucky, on board of a C5.

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