Like all good things, our Chile and Argentina trip had to come to an end. But we made sure to finish it on a high note! Our last two days in Mendoza were jam packed with activities including white water rafting in the Mendoza River and a full day excursion to Enzo Bianchi in the Uco Valley.
A fourth generation family-owned winery, Bodegas Bianchi has been making wine in San Rafael since 1928 and just recently acquired property in the Uco Valley in 2016. With nearly 100 years in business, Bianchi is a leading producer in Argentina running a huge operation producing an astounding 11 million liters of wine a year from their San Rafael winery alone! The operation is simply massive in San Rafael. They have two production lines that can pump out 9000 bottles an hour! There are three fermentation rooms with a total of 350 stainless steel tanks as well as a barrel room that holds 800 French and American oak barrels. The winery also is home to a sparkling wine cellar which can hold up to 800,000 bottles.
We had the pleasure to visit their recently established winery in the Uco Valley where Bodegas Biancoi’s icon wines are produced. Smaller in comparison to their San Rafael estate, the winery is still very impressive with a winemaking capacity of 400,000 liters and the barrel room currently holding 689 full barrels. In 2021, they purchased 5 ceramic amphoraes (clay containers) to age some of their wine in. The clay acts as a natural way to control the wine’s temperature during fermentation and makes for more environmentally friendly production. During our vineyard and cellar tour with winemaker Silvio Alberto, we were even able to sample wines directly from amphorae and barrels.
Before heading in for our proper sit down tasting, we took a tour of the vineyards which seemed to go on for days. The scenic views were simply gorgeous and it was fascinating to see vine plantings of different ages. Some had only just been planted a few months prior to our arrival and were barely a foot high.
What makes Bianchi a real standout in Argentina is simply the fact that they produce so much wine under multiple labels! From their young wines bottled under the labels Elsa Bianchi and Los Primos all the way up to their premier icon labels like Enzo and Particular, Bianchi wines all a common theme - terroir-driven with excellent structure and complexity. With 15 different varietals planted, there really is a Bianchi wine that fits everyone's taste!
During our tasting, we sampled 16 wines from their Famiglia Bianchi, Particular, Gran Famiglia, IV Generacion, and Enzo lines and were joined by winemaker Silvio Alberto as well as Rocio Campoy Morist, Bianchi’s International Marketing Manager, and CEO, Rafael Calderon.
After the tasting we were given some down time to explore the vineyards on our own before being treated to a scenic food and wine lunch in the afternoon and a wine-themed magic show to close out the day. The lunch was prepared for us at their outside cooking station and we enjoyed the home-cooked lunch in the gardens just outside the private house on the property. Everything was simply amazing. The wine, the food, the olive oil, the atmosphere, the company. We even tasted three reds from their new organic line during lunch which are supposed to hit the market this June. They were delicious and are sure to make the perfect summer barbecue wines! It was a great way to end our time at Bianchi.
Before heading out on our evening flight we squeezed in a quick white water rafting adventure! Not only did we get great views of the mountains as we drove to the rafting spot, but the views from the river were gorgeous! I was quite nervous as it’s been quite some time since I white water rafted, but our guides quickly put me at ease. It was such a fun and thrilling 45 minute excursion! Paul’s face in the picture below really says it all!
At the end of the day, we packed our bags and headed to the airport. It was sad to have to depart after such an amazing experience, but at least we got a good parting view of the mountain peaks as we headed back to Chile for a quick layover before our 9 hour flight back to cold New York. Be sure to stay tuned for more travel blogs as Paul and Kristina head to South Africa in April!Check out the three Bianchi reds that caught our attention here! We feel these wines best represent what Bianchi is trying to achieve in terms of terroir, structure, and quality at different price levels. From a food-friendly organic Malbec to a premium blend only produced in the best vintages, these Bianchi wines are sure to impress.