Grand Cru of the Andes
The Argentinean project from the team behind the gre...
From the spectacular high-altitude vineyards of Mendoza and Salta, to the Pinot Noirs of Patagonia and the restaurants and bars of cosmopolitan capital Buenos Aires, South America’s second-largest country is a winelovers’ paradise.
For many people, Argentine wine is synonymous with one region, and one grape variety. Located in the west of the country, and extending high up into the Andes and the border with Chile, Mendoza, one of the most spectacular wine regions in the world, accounts for some 70 percent of Argentine wine production, and is home to much of the world’s finest Malbec. No wonder, then, that it is here that so many wine-loving visitors begin—and end—their tour of the country’s vines.
But before planning a visit to the country, it’s worth at least considering making a voyage to two other regions which, in their very different ways, also contribute to the increasingly varied and vibrant modern Argentine wine scene: the arguably even more spectacular—and certainly higher in altitude— Calchaquí Valley in the far northwestern province of Salta, and the less immediately impressive but, with its vast skies, still rather beautiful, landscape of the low-lying Patagonian regions of Río Negro and Neuquén.
Visitors to Calchaquí generally begin their tour in the attractive, tourist town of Cafayate. Patios de Cafayate (www. patiosdecafayate.com), a grand, faithfully restored farmstead surrounded by vineyard in the grounds of El Esteco winery, is a handsome and comfortable place to stay, with chef Martín Garramón’s La Rosa restaurant providing sustenance after visiting the El Esteco winery or the agreeably rustic El Porvenir (www.elporvenirdecafayate.com) just off the town’s main square. Further afield, you’ll need a 4x4 vehicle to make your way up to the world’s highest (between 6,000 and 10,000ft) vineyards at Bodegas Colomé in Molinas. Owned by Swiss businessman Donald Hess, the estate no longer offers accommodation, but has a fine art museum and lavender garden.
Art is also part of the attraction at Patagaonia’s Familia Schroeder estate, with a museum devoted to work by local artists. The estate, some 52km (32 miles) from Neuquén city, also draws visitors to its dinosaur cave, an archaeological site where the remains of a 70 million-year-old dinosaur were found during the winery’s construction. More conventional offerings include the chance to join in either the harvest or pruning, or to spend a day touring the vineyards and enjoying lunch and a tasting. Set among Malbec vineyards, the modern 18-room Hotel and Spa Valle Perdido Wine Resort is the place to stay while planning your visit to celebrated wineries such as Neuquén’s Noemia (www.bodeganoemia.com) and, in Río Negro, Bodega Chacra (www.bodegachacra.com), both of which are by appointment only.
Mendoza, however, is the indisputable wine tourism capital of Argentina, with an ever-improving tourist infrastructure making for an impressively wide variety of places to stay, visit, and eat. The city of Mendoza is very much at the heart of the action, with accommodation ranging from the grand five-star luxury of the Park Hyatt Mendoza to the more intimate Heuntala Hotel (www.huentala.com) and Bohemia Hotel Boutique (www.bohemiahotelboutique.com). For eating out, restaurants include top chef Francis Mallman’s 1884 Restaurant (www.1884restaurante.com.ar), effectively a fine-dining take on the Argentine love of the grill; the French-inspired Anna Bistro (www.annabistro.com); or the stylishly retro food and surroundings of Fuente y Fonda (www.fuenteyfonda.com.ar).
Beyond the city, there are numerous ways to explore the vineyards of the various sub-regions of Mendoza wine country: you can take a hire-car or join a group tour, hire a bike, or, most romantically, but not all that unusually in gaucho country, go on horseback. Tour companies such as Ampora Wine Tours (www.mendozawinetours.com), Heuntata (www. transporteshuentata.com.ar), and Kahuak (www.kahuak.com.ar) can offer tours tailored to your preferences, while website www.welcometomendoza.com is a useful database of information on accommodation, transport, visits, tours, and maps.
It’s now much easier to stay in wine country for the entire duration of your trip in one of the impressive new hotels and guesthouses that have emerged in the past decade. For tours of fashionable Uco Valley, the coolest part of Mendoza at altitudes between 3,280 and 5,250ft (1,000–1,600m), the cleverly designed, sustainable, ultra-modern Casa de Uco, set beside a lake amid the vines on a 320ha (790 acre) estate, has a kitchen with a seasonal menu that draws on the hotel’s own organic garden.
The hotel offers free horse riding in its extensive grounds, and can fit you up with your desired mode of transport to Paraje Altamira, where the Zuccardi family opened its Uco Valley project in 2016. A worthy winner of a “Great Wine Capitals” award for Architecture and Landscapes, the impressive building uses local rock, water, and sand, its design blending into the surroundings. Tours of the winery and vineyards are available with a reservation (www.zuccardiwines.com), and the Piedra Infinita restaurant is open for a set four-course menu, at lunchtimes from Wednesday to Sunday.
In Lújan de Cuyo, 50 minutes from Mendoza city, the most stylish place to stay is Rosell Boher Lodge, a cluster of three deluxe villas, each with its own wine cellar, hot tub, and outdoor fireplace, and with stunning floor-to-ceiling views of the Andes. In this part of Mendoza, Bodegas Renacer, a specialist in Amarone-style wines, has one of the most creative approaches to wine tourism, offering visitors a choice of three “experiences”, from making your own blend, to bottling your own wine, to a “high class visit” where you’re accompanied by a sommelier.
Depending on your tolerance for crowds, and if you’re prepared to arrange your accommodation well in advance of your trip, one of the best times to visit Mendoza is at the end of Feburary and beginning of March, during the harvest festival (Fiesta Nacional de la Vendimia), when Mendoza plays hosts to a series of music and dance concerts, processions, fireworks and other events (www.prensa.mendoza.gov.ar).
Historically, the area around Argentina’s capital has not been known for its wine production. But with more than 100ha (247 acres) now planted in Buenos Aires province that is starting to change. Trapiche’s cool-climate Costa & Pampa project 3km from the Atlantic coast been critically acclaimed, and a trip to the winery (www.trapiche.com.ar) is a pleasant addition to any visit to the resort of Mar del Plata, a four-hour drive from Buenos Aires city.
But if the capital has not hitherto been known for making wine, it has always been a great place to buy and drink it. Most visitors to Argentina will find themselves in Buenos Aires for at least some of their stay. Shout Brasas & Drinks in Retiro, La Cava Jufré in Villa Crespo, and Aldo’s in San Telmo, are just three of the city’s many fine wine bars to look out for, while Happening in Costanera Norte and Puerto Madero, Cabaña Las Lilas in Puerto Madero, and Oviedo in Recoleta, are all restaurants that have earned the highest three-star award from The World of Fine Wine's World’s Best Wine Lists awards.
Grand Cru of the Andes
The Argentinean project from the team behind the gre...
Part of an ambitious project featuring 1,500ha of Uco Valley vineyards, The Vines boasts 22 luxury villas, a restaurant run by top chef Francis Mallmann, and a team of gaucho guides.
Ruta Provincial 94, km 11, 5565 Tunuyan, Mendoza | +54 261 461 3900 | www.vinesresortandspa.com
Beautiful, sustainably designed boutique hotel amid the vines with a restaurant featuring seasonal produce from the kitchen garden, and a range of activities including horse-riding.
Ruta 94, km 14.5, 5500 Tunuyán, Mendoza | +54 261 476 9831 | www.casadeuco.com
With the grounds of El Esteco winery, this classical colonial 19th-century farmstead in Cafayate in Salta province offers a fine restaurant and cosy rooms in a tranquil setting.
Ruta Nacional 40, Cafayate, Salta | +54 386 842 2229 | www.patiosdecafayate.com
Another of Mendoza’s new-wave of luxury modern boutique hotels, Rosell Boher Lodge features a cluster of private villas with their own patio, hot-tub, and outdoor fireplaces.
Entrada Ruta 86, 5509 Luján de Cuyo, Mendoza | +54 261 339 9989 | www.rosellboherlodge.com
Luján de Cuyo is a prime location for these luxurious private villas, close to Mendoza but with onsite spa, where guests can benefit from wine therapy.
Costaflores s/n, Luján de Cuyo, Mendoza | +54 261 410 6927 | www.cavaswinelodge.com
Smart boutique hotel with one of the best restaurants in Salta Province, with local ingredients—llama, goat—and a wine list featuring the best of the region.
Ruta Nacional 40 Km 4340, Cafayate, Salta | +54 386 842 7000 | www.gracehotels.com
Not in the wine lands, but an impeccable wine list is one of the attractions in this world-class country hotel, which is surrounded by polo fields, perfectly manicured lawns and glamorously decorated interiors.
Ruta Provincial 41 and 31, San Antonio de Areco | +54 232 645 4895 | www.labambadeareco.com
Francis Mallmann’s flagship central Mendoza restaurant showcases his refined skills with the open grill with tables set around a courtyard garden.
Belgrano 1188, Godoy Cruz, Mendoza | +54 261 424 3336 | www.1884restaurante.com.ar
One of Mendoza’s best winery restaurants is housed in one of its most spectacular pieces of modern architecture; the award-winning contemporary Spanish-Argentine food is pretty special, too.
Calle Los Indios s/n, La Consulta, Mendoza | +54 261 467 1021 | www.ofournier.com
Traditional Argentine home cooking is given a stylish modern twist by the talented chef Pablo del Río in a central Mendozan town house filled with charming retro details.
Montevideo 675, Mendoza | +54 261 429 8833 | www.fuenteyfonda.com.ar
For more restaurants with award-winning wine lists click here.
One of the great names in Argentinian wine, Catena Zapata welcomes visitors to take an expert guided tour of its remarkable Mayan-style temple of wine in Luján de Cuyo.
Cobos s/n, Agrelo, Luján de Cuyo 5509, Mendoza | +54 261 413 1124 | www.catenawines.com
One of Argentina’s oldest wineries boasts what it claims are the highest vineyards in the world at up to 10,000ft, as well as a fine art gallery and some fine Tannat and Malbec.
Ruta Provincial 52 Km 20, Molinos 4419, Salta | +54 386 849 4200 | www.bodegacolome.com
A fine old Mendoza winery that mixes 19th-century charm with modernity and offers a range of touristic experiences from taking a photographic safari, to being a winemaker for a day.
Ruta Provincial 15 Km 23.5, Luján de Cuyo 5509, Mendoza | +54 261 490 9700 | www.norton.com.ar
A Patagonian winery that has done much to attract wine tourists to the region, and boasting a dinosaur cave and art gallery as well as wine tasting opportunities.Calle 7 Norte, San Patricio del Chañar 8305, Neuquén | +54 299 489 9600 | www.familiaschroeder.com
One of the most important wine producers outside the Mendoza region, Callia in the bright sunshine and desert-like conditions of San Juan province is a specialist in Shiraz and offers an illuminating, extensive 1-hour tour of its modern facilities.
José María de los Ríos s/n, Caucete, San Juan | +54 264 496 0000 | www.bodegascallia.com
With restaurants and visitor centers in Maipú and the Uco Valley, Zuccardi takes wine tourism very seriously, with balloon rides, tasting and cooking courses, classic car rides, and much more.
Ruta Provincial 33 Km 7.5, Maipú, Mendoza | +54 261 441 0000 | www.familiazuccardi.com
Another of Mendoza’s most established producers, Trapiche welcomes visitors to its restored Florentine-style mansion in Maipú and its exciting new venture near Mar del Plata on the Atlantic coast.
Nueva Mayorga s/n, 5513 Maipú, Mendoza | +54 261 520 7666 | www.trapiche.com.ar
Along with Cavas Weinert, Bodegas López is one of Mendoza’s best traditionalist wineries. A free tour of its beautiful, atmospheric winery, set around a Mediterranean style courtyard, is a visit with a difference.
Ozamis 375, 5511 Mendoza | +54 261 497 2406 | www.bodegaslopez.com.ar
Dutch-owned Salentein offers an award-winning gastronomic and cultural Killka Space, featuring art galleries, a restaurant, and an auditorium, as well as a guesthouse and stunning winery architecture.
Ruta Provincial 89 s/n Km 14, Localidad de los Árboles | +54 261 441-1000 | www.bodegasalentein.com
A Mendoza winery specializing, among other things, in passito wines, Renacer has one of the best and most varied wine tourism programs going, offering visitors the chance to blend and bottle their own wines.
Brandsen 1863, Luján de Cuyo 5507, Mendoza | +54 261 524-4416 | www.bodegarenacer.com.ar