Fields, wine and meat - these are three words, best of all characterizing Mendoza, a city and a wine region in the western part of Argentina. Mendoza produces the greatest part of Argentina's wine. Although it cannot be compared with alpine villages of Australia or Switzerland, mountains are pretty close there. While exploring vineyards, cast a glance in the distance and perhaps you will spot outlines of Aconcagua, the highest peak in America. Closeness of the Andes lures to Mendoza neighborhood not only wine enthusiasts. It is much favored by those who are fond of mountaineering, trekking, rafting or skiing, too.
Malbec wines are the major pride of Mendoza as well as the whole country. Mendoza is definitely the place to visit if you wish to savor and discover Malbec again and again. Argentinean winemakers like to play with tastes as they are not bound by strict traditions and laws, as it is in Europe. Do not search for so called single vineyard wines there. They prefer to blend several grape varieties, grown at different altitudes above the sea and to use the latest technologies, gradually displacing the traditional winemaking methods.
Yes, and speaking about meat - Argentina is often called a vegetarian's nightmare. Absolutely everything, taken from cattle, is put into use there, including livers, kidneys and a lot more. And everything is cooked the way it is impossible to refuse! Don't worry if the local cuisine leads you into temptation - you will not regret it!
A construction, featuring a huge glass cross, letting into the wine cellar just as much of natural light as it is necessary. Something like that you can see only at O. Fournier winery, about 130 km from Mendoza city. Owned by Spanish family, Ortega Gil-Fournier, a boutique-style winery is a true state-of-the-art and will impress even the most seasoned wine connoisseurs. It features a hypermodern design, as never seen in the Old World, combined with the most advanced wine making technologies. An architectural solution joining administrative and production premises is really ingenious. The office people are literally seated on top of the wine! After harvesting, using specially built ramps, grapes are delivered one story above the ground. They ferment in cement tanks, travelling down to the barrel room, and the gravity force, instead of pumps, helps the wine throughout this process.
Yet, that is not all! The owner of the winery seems to have a passion about astronomy, too, as a part of his fine wines are named after stars in the Southern Cross. Light, coming from the ceiling, marks a cross on the floor of the huge wine cellar, too, and numerous barrels are lined around it. It is a pretty mystic sensation, I must say. Moreover, O. Fournier winery serves as an exhibition venue for modern art, mostly paintings.
The fact that you are the only guest at the moment, with no other tourists queuing behind you, makes O. Fournier's visit even more enjoyable. And the owner himself, if he has a spare moment, gladly comes out to greet you.
Familia Zuccardi winery is located just a half an hour drive from Mendoza city. For seasoned wine enthusiasts, however, it is worth a visit not so much for its wine excursions as for its restaurant. Featured by a respectable wine guide like Decanter, Familia Zuccardi winery with its excessive commercialism still may bring a slight disappointment. Organized wine excursions are largely mass tourism-directed and a real wine connoisseur perhaps will not learn anything new there. Whereas a meal at La Casa del Visitante restaurant is remarkable! „Vegetarian nightmare", of course, reaches its acme there - black pudding, variety of sausages, steaks and other meat treats - and everything incredibly delicious! On a guests' request, a meal can be served in the wine cellar, too.
Although not measuring up to Alex Miles culinary classes at Burgundy Les Roches Chambres d'Hôtes guest house, Zuccardi Family has its very own trump and her name is Chacha. Argentine mama does not know a single word in English, yet bakes the most fabulous empanadas. The process takes places straight in the winery's garden and the "classes" have to be booked in advance. Under Chacha's guidelines, guests knead and roll dough and fill small pasties with meat, cheese and onions. When they are put into the oven, guests can savor a glass of local wine, waiting while the tasty stuff is ready. Without Cacha's pasties and an appetizing meal, Zuccardi Family would be very much like a typical Californian winery, for example. If you are a beginner, however, it is a good place to start acquiring wine knowledge as well.
About 40 years ago two American guys - Michael Evans and David Garrett - set off to search for the best wines of Mendoza region. Today, their endeavours can be seen and savored in a unique Tasting Room, featuring an impressive bouquet of Argentine wines. Guests can enjoy six various wine flights, starting from the most common Malbec wines down to genuine masterpiece of small wineries, rarely to be found anyplace else. About two and a half hours of completely personalized wine degustation guided by advice of a competent sommelier. At Vines of Mendoza homepage you will find addresses of fine wineries, superb restaurants and prime hotels. A very useful handbook, in fact!
There you can savor the pride of Carmelo Patti's winery - his legendary Cabernet, produced according to the old European traditions.
Vines of Mendoza Tasting Room
Espejo 567 (between Chile and 25 de Mayo)
Argentine Phone: +54 261 438 1031
U.S. Phone: 707/320-2699
A quiet small-town-life, naturalness and family warmth - all that can be found at Lares De Chacras. Owned by the Day family, the small hotel is located just 15 km outside Mendoza, providing much easier access to the nearby vineyards. Light rural interior, a fabulous tranquility and an exceptional service. The hostess herself carefully follows that guests receive as much pampering and comfort as possible. It seems that the hosts of Lares De Chacras know their guests very well - if you do not have any particular plans, you can safely trust the Day's advice. They know almost all and everyone in Mendoza and can swiftly settle and arrange everything for you. What is more, Lares De Chacras takes pride in a very good wine cellar, a delicious breakfast on the terrace and a priceless feeling of privacy (only 25 guests can be accommodated there). A marvelous restaurant, La Bourgogne, is located just 7 minutes drive from there.
A superb spot for wine enthusiasts who, aside from Mendoza's vineyards, wish to enjoy a swarming life of a big city. Sommeliers' competitions take place there, the best ones compete for desired Argentina's awards and every doorman can enlighten you about the current wine tours. Park Hyatt chain hotel, although a bit touristy, is a pretty enjoyable alternative to some countryside lodgings - if you prefer to stay in the city. Located in Mendoza business and banking centre, it features Spanish 19th-century colonial style façade with Plaza de la Independencia just in front of it. It offers a very good bistro as well.
Prices starting from 710 ARS (Argentine peso)
A dazzling place, designed by the same architect that designed the already mentioned ultramodern O Fournier winery. It features a first-rate hotel and a wine cellar, both appearing on the pages of design books. Unfortunately, Bodega Salentein is among those wineries where tourists flock in large numbers and it is hardly possible to be an exclusive guest there. Yet, being located about 40 minutes drive from Mendoza, its hotel is an excellent choice if you wish to stay away from hurly-burly of the city.
A restaurant belonging to Finland´s Honorary Consul in Argentina, Carlos Pulenta. It is situated a winery, which he built in 2002, in the very heart of Vistalba region - just 20 minutes or so by taxi from Mendoza, and you are there! Moreover, it is advised by Jancis Robinson, a world-renowned wine authority. And not for nothing - La Bourgogne was nominated once to be the best restaurant among the wine capitals. It features a breath taking panoramic view of the Andes, everything being modern there - including its interior and a French cuisine with an Argentine touch. Do not leave without tasting sweetbreads - a peculiar liver and bread mix. And, of course, wine! Mr. Pulenta's greatest pride is Vistalba Corte B, offered for a dreamlike price for a restaurant - just $27.
Roque Saenz Peña 3531, Vistalba, Lujan de Cuyo
Phone: (54 0387) 498 9421
Created by a legendary Argentinean chef Francis Mallman, 1884 is sited at Bodega Escorihuela winery. And what is more - it is among the most favored ones in the whole Argentina! It has amplitude, elegance and a subtle ambience, making it a perfect spot for diner. It features marble flooring, high ceiling, gentle music and a flawless service. It is worth arriving there a bit earlier, however - before you start feasting on already habitual in this country meat dishes (perhaps at this point it might seem a bit too much already). Savor a glass of Argentine champagne in the garden, particularly magic when night is drawing on...Not the less wonderful is the champagne itself, for a very favorable price, too. And in the course of dinner you can enjoy a whole bouquet of rare Argentinean wines.
Another Francis Mallman's restaurant, Patagonia Sur, is located in Buenos Aeries.
Francis Mallman's 1884
Belgrano 1188, Godoy Cruz, Mendoza, Argentina
Phone: +54 261 424 2698
More than a hundred years old estate, combined with an absolutely modern interior. Club Tapiz, located just a half an hour drive from Mendoza city, it presents a perfect dining spot. Aside from the restaurant, Fincas Patagónicas offers an exclusive lodging, surrounded by 24 acres of vineyards, offering only 7 elegant rooms.
- Harvest time in Mendoza is near the end of February;
- Daytime temperatures are pretty high there - up to +30oC and even more, yet nights use to be chilly. Because of the intolerable heat, tops of vines are tied together (commonly known as a pergola system), in order to protect grapes from the scorching sun.
- Being in Mendoza, it is worth visiting also nearby Salta, Luján de Cuyo and some other wine districts.
Keywords: Mendoza, Argentina, wine, winery, hotel, guest house, shop, store, restaurant