We decided to take the Vitivinicola bus wine tour in Mendoza Argentina as prices of upwards of $150 per person for other wine tours is expensive. The reviews were quite divergent ... some good some bad ... but we decided to take the chance that our tour would be good.
Vitivinicola bus runs 4 different tours in different areas and visiting different wineries - Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, Thursday and Saturday and Sunday. We had run out of days and defaulted to the Friday tour.
The bus costs about USD30 per person and after the last pickup in Mendoza at about 9 am returns to Mendoza at about 6 pm.
A long day! But good value!
On Wednesday and Friday there’s a choice of four out of six wineries. After some research we decided on Chandon, Susana Balbo, Casarena and Terrazas leaving out Zozo and Septima.
We walked through the gardens and went through the winery. This winery is owned by the LVMH Group and is one of the Chandon Wineries around the world making sparkling wines. In the style of champagne but not being able to use the name which is the trademark of Champagne in France.
Unfortunately our tour was in Spanish but we were assisted by a number of people and the guide who answered our questions.
The tour ended with the tasting of 3 sparkling wines of different labels.
Tasting price per person AR $ 200 (USD 7.50 per person)
Arriving at this winery we were given a glass of Torrontes. This is a varietal that Susana Balbo has “made her own”. Hers is a blend of these grapes from the Salta and Mendoza regions and results in a wine with a unique character. Very refreshing and a varietal I’ll definitely look for in future.
Susana Balbo’ wines are constantly being innovated with regard to target markets as well as the wine making process. For example she uses barrels of different shapes and materials.
After a short guided tour of the winery it ended with a tasting of a reserve Malbec. The red varietals include Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Pinot Noir. These are blended in differing combinations depending on the year. The premium Malbec is not made every year. If the grapes are not considered a high enough quality the vintage is omitted.
The full tastings are normally ARS $ 350 per person but the charge appeared to be waived with a purchase of wine.
We chose Casarena for lunch. They had an interesting vegetarian option and the price was more reasonable than the other wineries. As we the lunch included complementary wines we didn’t do the tasting … as it turned out there was no time … our long and lazy lunch lasted about 2 hours.
The actual menu turned out quite different from what was advertised .
Gastronomic services Casarena by Chef Lucas Bustos.
- Mushroom terrine, applesauce and fennel - CHARDONNAY 505
- Ricotta - ROSE 505
- Croquette of goat cheese, potatoes and pickles - RAMANEGRA MALBEC
- Cheese mousse, spiced, honey - RESERVE CABERNET SAUVIGNON RAMANEGRA
- Main dish: Pasta stuffed with squash - CASARENA SV PETIT VERDOT
- Pre-dessert: Granita Kidron, cucumber
- Dessert: Ice cream of caramel, meringue - RAMANEGRA CIDER ESPUMANTE
Coffee with Petit Fours
The actual meal was just 4 courses with the beef filet main course being replaced with the pasta.
With a 10% service charge the lunch cost was AR $ 825 (USD30 per head) - good but expensive!
The winery offers a visit with a unique tasting while the winery is visited and its wines and techniques are discussed.
The price per person for the visit and tastings is AR $ 200 (USD 7.50).
Our last stop of the Vitivinicola bus was at another LMVH winery, Terrazas – with the late start and the delays during the day it was late. This winery specializes in mainly Malbec “flat” wine.
Located in the heart of Perdriel and in front of the imposing Cordón del Plata we had a quick tour through this old traditional winery.
The tasting was 2 of the Reserve line and 1 glass of Single Vineyard premium line. Price per person AR $ 250
The winery also offers a more expensive premium tasting … but there was no time and also by this stage we were “wined out”.
The two estates we didn't visit were Zozo and Septima.
Vitivinicola Bus Wine Tour Wrap-up
- A good choice – we’d do it again.
- It was difficult to book online so we went to a travel agent.
- The user interface on the Vitivinicola site is not easy to follow. I translated it and still spent some time working out what we’d do and when.
- There was a delay at the beginning of the tour to wait for 2 people who appeared to have been left behind.
- The advertised vegetarian meal at Casarena changed – but what we had was delicious.
- We were the only English speaking people on our tour of about 30. Although both the guides and the other guests were helpful with translations we missed some of the information at Chandon.
- The total cost for the two of us was about US$ 130 – including lunch.