A horsey break in the mtns of Cordoba,Los Potreros Estancia, Argentina
“I think it’s gin o’clock, don’t you?” said my hostess and trail boss, Louise (Lou) Begg. After a rough two hours on the trail ( not really, the horses barely broke into a trot) we were back at the estancia in time for a pre-lunch drink. I was spending a few days of R&R between all my visits to various wineries at the Estancia Los Potreros in the province of Cordoba, in the central/northern part of Argentina.
Los Potreros has been in the Begg family for 4 generations but it originally started out as a farm to breed mules for the Peruvian silver mines back in 1574. It was bought by the Begg family in the first quarter of the 20th century and today the fourth generation of the Anglo/Argentine Begg family (Kevin and his wife Louise) run the estancia as not only a working farm, breeding award winning Angus cattle but also as a country retreat for horse lovers. Horse day trips, working with the gauchos, playing polo, golf, winetastings, trekking, bird-watching or just laying by the pool are all options on the ranch. If you’re a horsey person, this is the ideal retreat.
Now, The Winesleuth is not really that much of a horse person but I was game and after the first ride, I was hooked. Lou and Kevin adjust to each rider’s level which means if you’re a beginner like me, there’s nothing too strenuous or long.The two-hour twice daily rides we took were just long enough for me. I asked Lou if they ever get people who don’t want to or can’t ride a horse and she replied that it is actually quite common. Often a partner or child doesn’t want to ride which is why they have plenty of other activities on offer. Of course, if you want to go racing up an down the hills, they cater for that as well.
The landscape is just gorgeous, big hills rolling out as far as the eye can see. It reminded me of ocean swells, flowing on into the distance. We went out for rides everyday but other then that, we just spent time reading, writing, relaxing, a lovely retreat from the hurly burly of Buenos Aires and the rough and tumble of travelling by bus around Argentina. All the meals were family style and a mix of European and Argentine cuisine,nothing fancy, just good, hearty, healthy country food. It was also a great way to get to know Lou and Kevin as one or both of them ate with us at lunch and dinner. The estancia only has a capacity for about 10-12 guests so it is in intimate holiday. Accommodation is comfy but not deluxe, no high speed internet in the cottages (but not to worry, they do have wireless internet in the main house) or digital flatscreen tv’s, which I have to say was a relief. They have guest cottages as well as rooms in the main house.
Being the ‘Sleuth, I did find wine. As a matter of fact, Cordoba produces it’s very own wines. While they are not of the same calibre as Mendozan wines, the malbecs that are the house wines of the estancia do a very good job of going down with the evening steak. Made by Bodega Cayonese, located about 50 kms from Cordoba, it was an easy drinking red, medium bodied and fruity.
Luckily, it was also Kevin’s birthday while I was there and to celebrate, we had a delicious selection of Kevin’s favourite wines. One of my favourites was the malbec from the Bodega El Esteco, Ciclos 2006, full of fruits, a big, muscular wine, typical Argentine malbec, it was excellent with the osso bucco.For dessert, we had a sweet white from Familia Zuccardi, Malmado, a late harvest viognier from Mendoza, sweet but excellent acidity kept it from being cloying.
After 3 days at the estancia, it was time to head back to Buenos Aires but if you love horses and are thinking of visiting an estancia, Los Potreros is fantastic. They offer various all inclusive packages. Check out their website for all the skinny on the ranch. In the meantime, I was rested and ready for my trip to the vineyards of Uruguay.