MENDOZA`S FREE MAGAZINE
Nº60 FEB - MAR 2013
The Gaucho Effect
Pato - Argentina’s National Sport Vendimia Edition
w w w. w i n e - r e p u b l i c . c o m
Alberto Antonini. Luxurious accommodations, regional gourmet
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contents NEWS REPUBLIC
Wine Pulp Fiction .............................................................................6 The Shipping News...........................................................................6 Art & Sparkling.................................................................................6 Night Classes....................................................................................6
Grape Expectations........................................................................16 Torrontes Wishlist..........................................................................20 Winery Profile: Melipal..................................... ............................28 Winemaker’s Profile: Marcela Alberto..........................................29
Vendimia Calendar...........................................................................8 The Gaucho Effect..........................................................................10 Argentina’s National Sport ...........................................................14 Love in Mendoza............................................................................18 Rescue Aconcagua.........................................................................22
Out & About
Interview Nick & the Shots.............................................................24 Bars...........................................................................................24 Dining Out......................................................................................26 Events...........................................................................................27
MAPS & TIPS
Useful Information........................................................................32 Map of Maipu and Chacras de Coria.........................................32 Map of Mendoza City Center......................................................34
Issue Febrary - March 2013 | ISSN 1853-9610 - 10,000 Copies Published by Seven Colors S.A. Address: Espejo 266, Planta baja. Departamento 3. Mendoza, Argentina Tel. +54 (261) 425-5613 E-mail: email@example.com Editor: Amanda Barnes Editorial Director: Charlie O’Malley Publicidad: Ana Laura Aguilera (155 018 874), Mariana Gómez Rus firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com Design: Design | Lab · María Laura Gómez · firstname.lastname@example.org Printer: Artes Gráficas UNION Contributing Authors: Amanda Barnes, Madeline Blasberg, Molly Hetz, Charlie O’Malley. Cover Illustration: Donough O’Malley, www.pencilrobot.net Contributing photographers: Amanda Barnes, Noelia Cona.
Opinions expressed in this magazine are not necessarily the editorial opinions of Wine Republic.
news REPUBLIC Wine Pulp Fiction
The relentless march of Malbec onto foreign wine shelves is a phenomenon that has boosted Mendoza hugely over the last decade. The story of how it all happened goes back to a handful of visionary winemakers in the 1990s who decided to pull the Argentine wine industry up by its boot straps and start making wine that would rival the best the World has to offer. This story is told in a meticulously researched book called The Vineyard at the End of the World by Ian Mount, the first book in English to give a very detailed account of the Argentine wine industry in a manner that is fascinating and enjoyable. Whilst the book is dominated by Malbec movers such as Nicolas Catena and Paul Hobbs, it also details just how the desert region of Mendoza became such an important winemaking region and includes descriptions of all the characters, enterprises and scandals that have shaped this province. Available at Trout & Wine Tours, Espejo 266. Price $200 AR.
By Charlie O’Malley
sparkling within arm’s reach as you explore this gorgeous property. Once the residence of one of Mendoza’s most famous modern artists, the sculptor Eliana Molinelli, the champagne house is now offering guided visits of the beautiful facilities. With a glass of their superb bubbly in hand you can admire vaulted ceilings, bare brick arches, spiral staircases and the artists cleverly designed studio. Visits run from 10am to 8pm and require reservations. Cost $10 US. www. casamargot.com.ar
The Shipping News
Standing recently in Mendoza´s main post office, I had to marvel at Correo Argentino’s lovely stamps celebrating Argentine wine. It was a display made more beguiling by the fact that the Argentine postal service is forbidden to ship wine, a petty regulation that frustrates countless visitors to Mendoza who want to bring some home. Well, frustrate no more. A slick wine specialist courier company called Wineflite is now offering door to door delivery from Mendoza to virtually anywhere in the World except North Korea and Utah. While a box of six is pricey ($165 US), the cost drops dramatically the more bottles you ship and unlike other courier companies, the shipment is fully insured. Packaging is free and there is no duty to pay if you are sending to the USA. On the subject of duties it is interesting to check out the duty list country by country on Wineflite’s very informative website. Alcohol loving Ireland adds a whopping 21% while Ontario tops the poll with an astronomical 100%. It seems when it comes to alcohol, there are daft laws everywhere. Wineflite, Belgrano 1093. (261) 510 3230. www. wineflite.com
Art & Sparkling
Amongst the ever crowded wine lodge scene in Mendoza, there is one place that stands out for sheer finesse and elegance, as well as originality. Casa Margot in Chacras de Coria is a “Hotel Champagnerie” which in physical terms means there is always an ice bucket of cooling
Often Sommeliers are described as culinary matchmakers or kitchen cupids as they combine wine & food into the most tantalizing proposals. If your pairing knowledge does not go beyond “white goes with fish right?”, it would be worth your while to drop into the marathon cooking classes currently run by Ceibo restaurant. As well as giving you a thorough grilling in local cuisine, the restaurant also offers the most eye opening and educational wine combinations and finishes the evening off with typical Argentine night caps such as Fernet, Campari or Mojitos. There are even cigars on hand for those who like their Malbec with something smokey. Cost $125 US per person.
Vendimia Calendar Madeline Blasberg sums up the busy Vendimia events calendar.
Vendimia is a time when Mendoza sheds its conservative reputation, raises a glass of red wine, throws melons into a jovial crowd and puts on a harvest celebration unrivalled in either hemisphere. This annual multi-month party incorporates the 18 districts of Mendoza province, and draws an international crowd of wine enthusiasts and travellers. Beginning in January, each district begins the festivities by selecting a Reina, part beauty queen and part wine ambassador. Wine tastings, plaza parties and live concerts culminate in early March with a grand finale of events, crowning the queen and celebrating 77 years of wine harvest. Sunday, February 26: Blessing of the Fruit “Bendición de los Frutos”: A ceremony organized with the Archdiocese of Mendoza to thank God for the fruits of the harvest, and to recognize both the hand of God and the hand of man in bringing forth Mendoza’s riches from the earth. Friday, March 2: Vía Blanca: Friday night, the main streets of Mendoza City fill with floats carrying the beautiful queens that represent each district. The 18 floats carry their beauty queens along the parade route. As the parade weaves through the city, the queens throw
fresh fruit into the crowd: melons, grapes, peaches and pears soar through the air into the outstretched hands of the crowd, and sometimes cartons of wine do too.
Vendimia Show Acto Central: In the Frank Romero Day Amphitheater, the main event takes place up in the Andes hillsides. The first half of the show celebrates Mendocinan customs and the second half showcases the election of the Vendimia Queen. It ends with a spectacular show of fireworks and a live music concert. The amphitheater seats nearly 25,000 spectators and another 20,000 scale the hillsides and watch the show with a bird’s eye view. Sunday, March 4: Second Night of the Main Event: Repetition of the Vendimia Show - without the coronation.
Saurday, March 3: Carrusel de las Reinas: Saturday morning, before the main event, the Queens of each region once again get together before nearly 250,000 spectators and parade through the streets of Mendoza city. The parade showcases Mendoza’s historical ties to the vineyard and celebrates the future of the wine industry in Argentina. Unlike the Vía Blanca, this parade incorporates a wider spectrum of Argentina’s traditions: the gaucho, folklore dancers etc.
Monday, March 5: Third Night of the Main Event: Repetition of the Vendimia Show - without the coronation. Saturday March 12 - Vendimia Gay, Arena Maipu: Not part of the official celebrations, but certainly on the calendar for most - the ‘alternative’ Vendimia where a gay or transgender queen is elected. Expect seriously camp and colourful celebrations.
THE gaucho effect Charlie O’Malley gives a shout out to the Pampas posse. Illustrations by Donough O’Malley · www.pencilrobot.net
When Carlos Menem decided to jockey for the presidential candidacy in the Peronist party in the late 1980s he was perceived as having very little chance. Menem was an outsider in the party, the governor of a poor, dusty province who had little leverage in the party hierarchy. Yet in July 1988 he trounced the party favorite and went on to win the presidency which he held for a decade. How did he do it? There is no doubt Menem was the consummate politician who traveled the length of the country shaking hands and remembering names. But he also had a secret weapon. With his thick sideburns and a red poncho, Menem harked back to a bygone era of gauchos and caudillos (strongmen). His cowboy getup made an impression and stirred something within the average Argentine´s soul. Let’s call it the Gaucho Effect - pride for the Argentine pampas spirit that honored bravery, honesty and self-reliance. Such reverence did not always exist. The word ‘gaucho’ was originally extremely derogatory and not something you’d say to a man’s face - especially one who always carries a ten inch blade. It means a very rough, uncouth individual, a loner, a scavenger, a cattle rustler, a drunkard and a fighter. Indeed, a national 10
embarrassment that needed to be suppressed and eradicated much the same as the Indian before him. So it is slightly ironic that nowadays the word has come to mean the opposite of what it originally described. His reputation has become almost mythical, the essence of ‘Argentinidad’. They - the original gauchos, must be chuckling in their graves - no doubt unmarked and forgotten, dotted around the pampas. “The original gauchos must be chuckling in their graves” It was the pampas where it all began. In the 1530s abandoned Spanish livestock began to flourish on the plains. Herds of wild cattle (called cimarron) multiplied rapidly, reaching an estimated head count of 50 million by the 18th century. There were numerous wild horses too. The cattle were exploited by the Europeans for their leather, but an increasing mestizo population began to salvage the meat, roasting it before it rotted, over large open fires - the asado was born. Those same wandering horsemen used Querandi Indian hunting techniques. Their favoured device was a boleadora, a rope with three heavy balls that would entangle an animal’s feet. They sometimes hunted in posses called vaqueros, but were commonly known to move around alone, sometimes with a woman in tow, but never more
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than a knife (a facon), a bola and a lasso for baggage. This, along with the cattle and horses, was enough to ensure a hard but embracing life, roaming the pampas, with a little time for gambling and drinking in the occasional saloon (pulperia) on the way. The gaucho’s strong attachment to his horse was somewhat literal with a reluctance to dismount even when bathing. Life in the saddle gave him an awkward bow-legged walk when his feet were on the ground - those same feet were more used to gripping stirrups by the toes. The gaucho was a forager, not a hunter. He traded hide and tallow for rum, tobacco and mate. When Charles Darwin encountered Argentine cowboys on his travels he was amazed how they survived on a constant diet of meat and little else. “Discriminatory laws were passed, treating the gaucho as a virtual outlaw” By the 17th century, the gaucho was a thorn in the side of the government. They perceived the gaucho slaughter of cimarron as depleting a valuable resource, threatening the prosperous trade in leather. The government clamped down. Discriminatory laws were passed, treating the gaucho as a virtual outlaw. Those unwilling to work could not travel freely. Failure to comply meant prison or military conscription. Despite their important role in the fight for independence (particularly in the province of Salta) the gaucho remained a second class citizen, marginalised and treated with contempt. The arrival of the saladeros (meat salting plants) compounded further their problems. Meat became an important commodity. Though the gauchos became valued for their expertise handling horses and cattle, the work was seasonal and many gauchos were loath to become a hired hand. Because of a wool boom, sheep began to replace cattle and large estancias spread across the pampas, fencing the land and forcing the gaucho to the fringes. With the railway came further European immigration. Friction arose between the gaucho natives and the Italian gringos. Some resisted stubbornly, but by the late 19th century the days of the pampa wanderer were over. Of course it didn’t end there. Just as the gaucho was becoming extinct, literatura gauchesca appeared. Works like “Martin Fierro”, an epic poem by José Hernández, and
“Don Segunda Sombra”, a novel by Ricardo Güiraldes, awakened a new found interest in the virtues of the gaucho - a doubly ironic development considering most gauchos were illiterate. Such public enthusiasm was not lost on politicians such as Juan Manuel de Rosas who won immense popularity by dressing as a gaucho - a tactic not lost on Menem 100 years later. Like the Tango, the gaucho became respectable and it is no surprise now, when you stand on the sidewalk observing the Harvest Festival parade, that the files of men dressed in bombachas, looking cool and elegant with their coin studded sashes, black sombreros and silk cravats, get the heartiest cheer. That’s the gaucho effect.
Where to Go Gaucho in Mendoza
Estancia La Alejandra: Valle Carreras is Mendoza’s best kept secret. It is a sweeping green valley connecting Potrerillos lake to Tupungato in Valle de Uco and home to a rustic ranch known as Estancia La Alejandra where you can saddle up and pretend you have never sat in an office in your life. The ranch runs daily horse riding excursions followed by asados and the occasional jinette (gaucho game tournaments). www. cordondelplata.com.ar Finca Las Lechuzas: Go here for the gaucho deluxe experience as Finca Las Lechuzas combines life on the saddle with visiting some of Mendoza’s finest wineries. Set in the wide open vineyard land of Agrelo in Lujan de Cuyo, the ranch offers excursions to nearby 5-star bodegas such as Decero and Viña Cobos. Valuable tip: dismount when tasting. www. fincalaslechuzas.com Estancia San Pablo: Think Little House on the Prairie except the prairie in this case is a lush verdant valley that runs from Uco Valley to Chile and the little house is a three bedroom lodge overlooking a bubbling river that offers ample flyfishing opportunities. Estancia San Pablo is a working farm that offers an authentic slice of rural Andean life. www.estanciasanpablo.com.ar
Argentina’s National Sport Molly Hetz takes a look at Argentina’s rather surprising national sport… Illustrations by Donough O’Malley · www.pencilrobot.net
When you think of Argentina’s national sport what do you think of? Football, possibly tennis, maybe polo… It would have to be one of these sports, right? Try again. The actual national sport of Argentina is a cross between basketball and polo, frequently ending in serious injuries, and was historically played with a live duck. Drumroll please…. The national sport of Argentina is Pato. Pato, which means ‘duck’ in Spanish, was originally played with a live duck inside of a basket with handles. The duck was used as a ball, and tossed from mounted player to player, with the goal of scoring in a net at the end of the field. In the game’s early years, Pato matches were often played between neighboring ranches over miles of empty countryside. “Complaints of the sport’s violence date back to the early 1800s Records of Pato being played in Argentina, date back as early as the 17th century, while complaints of the sport’s violence date back to the early 1800s. The Catholic Church so strongly disapproved of how the sport was played, that they prohibited the game in 1882 and refused to bury Pato players in Catholic cemeteries. Under the iron fist of the authorities, and numerous decrees seeking to outlaw the sport, Pato’s popularity largely diminished at the turn of the 20th century. However by the 1930s the sport resurfaced, featuring more regulated and standardized rules. Ducks throughout Argentina breathed a sign of relief as their role in the game was eliminated and substituted for a leather ball surrounded by six wooden handles easier for gripping. With these advances, Pato players were able to easily grip the pato while galloping at full speed towards the goals. Over time the game slowly gained respect as an organized, proper sport. In 1953 President Juan Perón declared Pato as Argentina’s national sport, acknowledging the sports role as a symbol of nationalism, and the guacho spirit it endows on its citizens. Although Pato has never had the allure or popular appeal of football or polo, it remains a sport for agricultural workers and aficionados in the countryside. The majority of Pato players are farm workers who play the sport in their spare time. Even as the national sport of Argentina, Pato is an amateur sport, meaning that those who play the sport financially support themselves elsewhere. 14
“It’s a sport played by gaucho men - not shy of a broken bone or two” A Pato team is comprised of four players on each team, and eight horses. The horses are rotated constantly to avoid fatigue, as the game is played at a fast speed with few breaks in between, centered around the passing and stealing of the pato while on horseback. To no surprise injuries are commonplace. All of the Pato players I talked to emphasized that the risks of playing are part of their attraction the sport. Players find themselves hanging off the horses at incredible speeds picking the pato off the ground, gallop off to throw the pato in the goal while being chased by other players on horseback. It is a sport played by men, guacho men, men of strong heritage and culture, people not shy of a broken bone or two. The Pato scene in Mendoza is not as strong as it is in the North of Argentina, in provinces like Chaco. However, it is slowly regaining recognition thanks to the efforts of Lucas Sbriglio, a veterinarian based in Maipu, who has dedicated a great deal of time and effort into organizing a Pato group in Mendoza. This local Pato group meets once a month, on the last Saturday of the month, at Parque Chachingo in Maipu. Their goal is to join together people of all socio-economic backgrounds in Mendoza, to play a traditional Argentine sport and share the traditions and culture of their ancestors. The continuance of Pato as the national sport has seen some resistance. In 2010, Pato hit headlines throughout the country, when a bill was introduced to change the national sport of Argentina to football. Senator Emilio Alberto Rached proposed the bill saying that football was more of a working class and inclusive sport, while Pato was exclusive and more costly. Pato advocates countered this statement by saying that Pato is 100% indigenous to Argentina, while football was brought into the country by the English Football Association. In the end the bill was not passed and to this day Pato remains the national sport of Argentina, and its fans keep its tradition alive. “In order for our society to continue growing,” says Lucas Sbriglio, “we need to water our roots.”
Grape Expectations Many people in the wine industry are returning to more artisanal and hand crafted forms of winemaking. You don’t need pavilion sized wineries and limitless funds to make great wine just good taste and some common sense. Amanda Barnes learns a few tricks of the trade to make superb wine the simple way. As you tour around large winery upon large winery you can sometimes become deluded into thinking that winemaking has to be an industrial process. Rows upon rows of enormous tanks end up looking like a fleet of steel robots and the nomadic story of a grape’s journey can sometimes get lost in translation amongst all the machinery. Making wine is actually a very natural and simple process, so simple that you can in fact do it in your bedroom. Wine fanatic and tour guide Victoria Mermoz started making her own wine in her bedroom two years ago. When a friend was going to throw away some premium samples of grapes from La Rioja, Victoria decided to take them home and see if she could make her own ‘vino’ without any training, fancy machinery or chemicals. Hand squeezing each grape into a big water bottle, she left them to ferment in their natural yeast. She left the cap off the bottle a bit so that it could get some oxygen, but not too much either, and gently tipped the bottle up and down for a ‘pump over’ twice a day. If the temperature was too hot, she’d put the bottle in her fridge for a while. “I gave it three weeks for fermentation,” she says. “I tasted it everyday to check that it was not too sweet.” When she decided it was ready, she squeezed out the juice using a mesh fabric to separate the skins, put it into bottles to rest, waited a couple months and voila! Perfectly drinkable wine. Obviously making great wine to sell is not quite as easy as throwing some juice in a Coke bottle, but the grape’s journey in a winery needn’t be obscured by smoke screens either. A visit to boutique producer Brennan Firth reveals the simple journey of a grape in layman’s terms. He has made wine professionally for ten years in top wineries in Mendoza and the US where he has seen everything from big investment projects to garage wines. Through his experience, he makes his own label Cepas Elegidas (www.cepaselegidas.com.ar) and as well as focusing on sourcing low yield, sustainable grapes, he has in the past used more handcrafted and practical remedies that don’t require complex machinery and overly expensive accessories and instead concentrates on minimal intervention winemaking. Take for example the year he didn’t have a press available the day he picked, so he found a more creative solution. “I took a metal picking screen [basically like a large colander] and put it over the picking cart, sanitized some rubber gum boots and started pressing with my feet! I did 8 tons like that. It was super tiring. My winemaking assistant and I took turns jumping up and down, while listening to ACDC. It had to be done over night as the winery needed the screens back in the morning.” Simple solutions like manually pressing can actually be much more beneficial for the winemaking process, although whether you prefer the vibrations of classical music or Australian hard rock is up to you. Foot pressing (and hand pressing like Victoria did) is much gentler than by machine so you break the tannins less than a machine might, making the final wine softer. 16
Brennan also had to look for unusual solutions to store his top-up wines one year (which winemakers use to replace wine in barrels that is lost by evaporation). One harvest he had 14 different lots which he wanted to keep separate until ready for the final blend after barrel aging. That would have required separate tanks for each lot. A small stainless steel topping up tank costs around U$1500, so for that harvest it would have required splashing out U$21,000. Instead he used water filter bottles which cost less than U$10, and kept downsizing as the quantities became less to avoid oxidation. More proof that you can find much more affordable solutions if you are ready to put in the extra work. Plastic bottles also came in handy for cold maceration one year when there wasn’t a temperature-controlled tank available. “I filled large 2.5 litre coke bottles with water and chucked them in a freezer”, explains Brennan. “Then I put 6 to 8 of them in a tank at a time to bring the temperature down and as the ice inside would melt, I’d swap them around with others from the freezer.” Temperature regulation can be one of the most expensive aspects in wine making and also one of the least environmentally friendly, but it really needn’t be if you use some common sense and practical thinking. Brennan explained that a simple technique he learnt in wineries in California for increasing the temperature when barrel fermenting is to just bring the barrels outside to the sun all day. A free and natural heat resource that Mendoza rarely lacks. In larger wineries you’ll see pumps coming in and out of every tank and barrel opening. Simple gravity suction can cut down on pumps, saves a significant amount on electricity bills and is more environmentally friendly. “The reason why I do gravity suction is to try and use less pumps, because pumping can be hard on wine with lots of oxygen,” says Brennan. “There’s a lot of bacteria in pumps too. I’ve also had experiences where I am racking [syphoning wine into a clean barrel to stabilize and clarify it] when the electricity goes out and the pumps stop. You are in the middle of racking and you can’t do anything. Now when the electricity goes out I laugh and put on my head torch and keep pumping with gravity.” More hand crafted techniques as mentioned above are ideal when you are making boutique production wine in smaller quantities. Visits to Cepas Elegidas and small wineries in Mendoza such as La Azul and Carmelo Patti can reveal the more artisanal, bespoke approach to winemaking. Even bigger wineries are starting to look back to more hand crafted techniques for their top lines, following the global trend towards ‘natural’ or minimum intervention wines. Take for example Trapiche, one of Argentina’s biggest producers, which has started making a premium wine called Manos that is hand harvested and squeezed - not too dissimilar in effect to Victoria’s bedroom wine. To visit Cepas Elegidas contact Brennan on bfirth@cepaselegidas. com.ar. Victoria is a wine guide for Trout & Wine Tours in Mendoza which also visits Cepas Elegidas, www.troutandwine.com
Like water in the desert:
Love in Mendoza Mendoza has a habit of helping unwitting foreigners find love. Madeline Blasberg is the love investigator. It’s the romance of the place, the social lubrication of wine, the impulsive spirit of travel and the willingness to suspend conventional wisdom in the pursuit of unconventional happiness that ensnares the hearts of those who had planned on just passing through. And the stories are many. Among the circle of expats that call Mendoza home and those that work in tourism, there is never more than one degree of separation to the nearest couple that unexpectedly met in Mendoza and fell in love. Here are just a handful of romantic anecdotes to get your heart a flutter for Valentine’s Day:
plans, rented an apartment and shuddered at the thought of moving back to Ontario and “back to the grind and my life without Virginia.” So he did the only thing he could think of and got down on one knee. Today, Zach and Virginia are planning their upcoming wedding in Mendoza and “couldn’t be happier,” says Zach. “We always say that Mendoza is a special place because it is where the heavens meet the mountains, the water runs and the desert sits. If you slow down enough to appreciate a glass of wine you will find that the surrounding beauty melds into a wonderful setting for a love story,” he says.
Love at Altitude
It would seem that everyone has a love affair in Mendoza. Some fall in love with the city and bring home a bottle of wine, some fall for its people and uncork more than they ever expected. When asked what makes Mendoza the vacation equivalent of Match.com, many are quick to site the usual suspects: exotic appearances and copious amounts of vino. But it’s really not that simple. Yes, it’s true that Mendoza and Rosario are internet-ionally recognized for their beautiful women with sun-kissed skin and sleek dark hair. But what is truly responsible for Mendoza’s magnetism? “Well, Rosario doesn’t have the wine. They have soya, which just isn’t quite as romantic”, says Charlie O’Malley, owner of Trout & Wine Tours (which has seen a couple love connections in its time too). Yet, wine-induced attraction isn’t the caliber of romance that kept Zach and Virginia, or Cassandra and Pablo together on the same continent. No, the difference is not as simple as a playboy rating of hot or not, or exotic enchantments in a foreign land. This is not Cancun. This is a quiet, conservative town, at the foothills of the Andes, under the Argentine desert sun. It’s a town that beckons foreigners to share in the potential of the wine industry, to test their limits outdoors, to stare, wide-eyed at couples in plazas tangled up in intimate embraces and to fall, more than a little bit, in love. Finding love in Mendoza is about as surprising as finding water in the desert. But that’s exactly what Mendoza is. An oasis, built by people who believed it could be done and that it was worth doing. And thanks to them, snowmelt from the Andes travels across massive stretches of gutters and canals to keep a city in the shade of leafy trees and filled with vineyards. Mendoza is an oasis, filled with the sound of trickling streams and stories of people in love.
Cassandra came to Mendoza not in search of love, but in search of another high: the Aconcagua summit. Having traveled from Australia to make a go at Argentina’s famous peak, the last thing she needed was a distraction. Enter: Pablo. Just before the start of her climb, Cassandra met Pablo, owner of the climbing company she contracted. And just as she descended the mountain, Pablo was there waiting for her. Cassandra spent what was left of her trip falling in love with Pablo and Mendoza, and the two embarked on a relationship held together by Skype calls and airline miles. But geography wasn’t the only obstacle they faced, the language too proved to be a challenge. “He wanted to tell me how much he liked me,” says Cassandra, “but he kept getting his English scrambled, telling me ‘you like me,’ ‘you like me a lot!’ And though it at first seemed an arrogant display of confidence, it turned out Pablo was right all along.” “I came to climb a mountain,” Cassandra said, “I ended up leaving without the summit, but with the man of my future. Mendoza is my new home.”
Two Expats Cross Paths
He: A Man from Montreal, studying wine making in Argentina and moonlighting as a wine guide, and She: a US native working in Buenos Aires on vacation in Mendoza. It should have been a day like any other, but a special look, a little laughter and some friendly flirtation changed the course of more than just the tour. What started with a stolen kiss outside of Ruca Malen winery slowly “developed into something amazing”, said the Man from Montreal. The two traveled to visit each other in Argentina, and then internationally when she moved back to the States. But what was it that made the difference between a kiss and a keeper? “It is the romantic notion of falling in love around the vines that sparks these romances for a lot of people, starting with the first sip of Malbec”, he admits.
The Canadian and the Wine Guide And then there’s Zach and Virginia, the whirlwind wine guide meets tourist romance. Zach, a Canada native, decided to celebrate his last day traveling in Mendoza by booking a wine tour. And as any seasoned wanderer knows, a traveler must always be prepared for the unexpected: and meeting Virginia certainly qualified, as she stepped out of the tour van and into Zach’s life. After the tour, the two weren’t ready to part ways. So, Zach changed his flight 18
torrontes wishlist This edition we’ve pulled together a Wishlist after tasting some of Argentina’s finest Torrontes wines. Known as ‘the liar’, Torrontes is the only native grape to the country and is a tricky one to pin down with fruity and floral aromas but usually very dry in the mouth. Although traditionally grown in the northern provinces of Salta or La Rioja, in recent years the grape has been crafted all around the country. Amanda Barnes picks some of her favorite Torrontes that show different expressions of this wonderful grape from all around the country. The Vines Recuerdo, $60 Produced by private wine estate The Vines, they are only just on their third harvest of Torrontes but they have already scored well with Parker. The grapes come from La Rioja in the Famatina Valley and the light wine is perfumed with floral notes, peach, lemon peel and light spice. www. recuerdowines.com Serrera, Torrontes Reserva, $45 This family winery make a Torrontes from Maipu which is surprisingly fresh and light in the mouth, bursting with citrus notes as well as floral aromas and a lasting finish. Delightfully shows that Torrontes can be well made in the warmer province of Mendoza too. www.serrera.com.ar Crios, Torrontes, $53 Made by ‘the queen of Torrontes’, Susana Balbo, this elegant torrontes is bursting with citrus characteristics and has a great acidity for food pairing. Balbo was one of the first to pioneer making high quality Torrontes and Crios is still a great example of it. www.dominiodelplata.com.ar Manos NegrAs, Torrontes $60 Coming from San Juan, this unique Torrontes has much saltier characteristics that give it a much better food pairing ability but still delivers on floral and citrus fruit notes. Made by the small international winemaking team of terroir specialists at Manos Negras who never fail to give you something unique and memorable. www.manosnegras.com.ar Cepas Elegidas, Torrontes $35 With only 550 cases made, this small production Torrontes from La Rioja has a delicate aroma of peach and jasmine with a nice texture in the mouth. A great value wine and perfect for swilling away on a late Summer’s afternoon in an aromatic garden. www.cepaselegidas.com.ar For more wine recommendations visit www.wine-republic.com
Rescue Aconcagua As Aconcagua season approaches a close, Amanda Barnes looks at the complexities of climbing the summit and rescuing you if need be.
People love to say that climbing Aconcagua is like taking a walk in the park. An 11-year old once did it, as did an 86-year old - surely it can’t be all that difficult? However the mountains hold a lot of mystery and getting to the top is no mean feat, requiring great guiding, technical skill, a bit of luck and a large logistics team behind you in case anything goes wrong. Despite over ambitious claims from many tour operators, far less than half actually make it to the summit. Although statistically you are much more likely to get an injury or suffer a fatality while driving in the city, this can be a perilous climb which has claimed many lives. A visit to the chilling Aconcagua cemetery at the bottom of the mountain is all you need to realize that climbing it is a serious endeavor not to be taken lightly. As do the tales of frozen victims that lay scattered on the climbing routes to the top. “An 11-year old once did it, as did an 86-year old - surely it can’t be all that difficult?” With a couple fatalities each season, I wanted to find out exactly how the rescue mission works and so spoke to rescue helicopter pilot Horacio Frechi and some local guides to find out what goes on during a rescue mission. The most common incident for climbers to be brought down from the mountains is if they are deemed in too bad health to carry on - that’s usually from altitude sickness. When a doctor decides that your mission needs to be left unaccomplished for now, the poorly climber comes down hopefully walking with the rest of the group. Unfortunately many suffer from summit fever and don’t want to come down, perhaps due to the hefty U$6000 it costs for a simple climb, and often guides need to literally drag unwell climbers back down to sanity. The large majority, willing or not, make it back down on two feet though. If however something more dramatic occurs - like an injury mid-climb that requires a rescue operation, then this is where the chopper is sent out and the real action happens. “The most difficult is the South Wall where you have to climb up using ropes,” explains Horacio, “and it’s the hardest to rescue from because there is no place to land the helicopter.”
Few people attempt the notorious South Wall. However each year a handful of extreme, dare devil climbers do and if they need to be rescued this requires a huge logistics operation from the Park and rescue team. This is why declaring your intended route is really important - each route has a different complexity, price and associated risk. “Often guides need to literally drag unwell climbers back down to sanity” When the rescue team gets the call, they need to first work out if the rescue is plausible - no rescue operations are attempted if they don’t think they will have success. The weather conditions have to be good enough for the helicopter to be sent out. With winds sometimes reaching up to 180kms per hour, and white outs leaving you only a few meters visibility, the fickle weather of the mountain has to be carefully calculated before you put more lives at risk. “You are a slave to the meteorological conditions,” says Horacio, who explains that statistically they have 5 or 6 days a season where rescue operations are impossible due to the weather. Easier rescue operations with the helicopter are achieved when it can land on solid ground and pick up the climbers, but in the case of the South Wall, the only way to rescue a climber is by hovering steadily above and dropping a static line to pick them up. Rescuers need to be on the mountain wall to be with the endangered climber and safely make sure that the one being rescued is no longer attached to the mountain (the helicopter’s strength is not enough to compete with that of the mountain) and that they are securely in the harness where they are airlifted to a medical base for immediate treatment. One of the greatest difficulties in these rescue missions is the altitude and density of the air, which seriously impedes the helicopter’s strength. The higher you go, the less power the helicopter has, so rescue missions at over 6000m become quite the challenge. Fortunately this is all rather rare and the main responsibility of the chopper at the Park is actually the slightly more pleasant, albeit less dramatic, job of bringing supplies up to different camps. “The higher you go, the less power the helicopter has” Climbing Aconcagua is still relatively safe, and if you have the right weather conditions getting up to the summit is a realistic goal. Wellknown stories of climbers both incredibly young and old making it up there, guides that continue to smoke 20 a day while puffing their way up the hill, and speed climbers
managing to make it to the top in less than 24 hours perhaps overplay the simplicity of the climb; but almost every guide will tell you that getting to the top is not that predictable. Luck plays a big role. The saddening stories of those who don’t make it often revolve around poor planning and adverse weather conditions. It is not obligatory to have a guide as you climb Aconcagua and unfortunately many climbers attempt to summit without a guide. This can be hazardous especially when you end up off course in an unexplored route. If you want to climb Aconcagua this season or next, make sure you go with a well-recognized guiding group and get the appropriate insurance cover for all eventualities. Aconcagua season runs until 31st March. Park permission and more information can be found at www.aconcagua.mendoza.gov.ar
If you don’t make it
If you don’t manage to summit, don’t despair. There are some stunning walks around the rest of the area that are really worth your time and also act as great acclimatizing exercises. Around the ski resort of Penitentes, the summer time offers a host of walks that will get your calves in great shape and you can also get spectacular mountain views and chase some glacial waterfalls. Aconcagua Park can also be explored for smaller hikes where you can make your way to the base camp to get a real feel for the buzz of climbing season while exploring on foot some of the many different walks in the area. Speak to well known tour agencies operating in the Andes, or contact Hotel Ayalen (www.ayelenpenitentes.com.ar) who as well as offering special accommodation packages in the area, can also organize guided walks for you in the area and help calm that rumbling stomach at their excellent restaurant.
bars inside Mendoza City
The list below has some great bars but if you’re looking to browse, head to Aristides Villanueva Avenue, the nightlife strip of Mendoza. It’s a continuation of Ave. Colon and is simply referred to as Aristides by the locals. Pubs, bars, restaurants and shops cram together from Belgrano to San Martin Park to provide you with ample bar options. Get your shut-eye before a night out because the clubs don’t even get started until 2am, and call a taxi because they are all located out of the city in Chacras or El Challao.
BELIEVE IRISH PUB
One of the few bars in Mendoza with a bar counter and high stools to prop yourself up on. Kelly, the English part-owner/pub-mascot is almost always there to share a chat and a smile with the crowd; which is most likely a factor in its notable popularity among expats and travelers. On the menu is a great collection of draught beers, bottled beers (try the Warsteiner) and surprisingly decent pub grub. TV screens hang in every corner airing hit music-video montages or football games. Monday night is International night and for their packed events DJ’s rock the house. Colon and España 241. Tel. 261429-5567.www.believeirishpub.com.ar
This is where everyone ends their night in the city centre. A bar with cheesy music, sticky floors and rammed full of tourists and locals bumping uglies together in the dark - you either love it or hate it, but most of us end up loving it! Aristides Villanueva 557.
A laid back American style burger bar with a good playlist and a patio outside, Cachitas boasts one of the best barmen in the city. Christian from Germany has travelled the globe perfecting the art of cocteleria and here you can sample some fab drinks that will get your night off to a good start. Sarmiento 784. Mon - Sat, 6pm till late.
la casa usher
This bohemian hot spot in Alameda hosts a weekly live music and tango performances. Pulling in a crowd of locals, this trendy hub moves outdoors to the paved streets in the summer leaving the small, eclectic bar for drinkers. Wednesday nights is a cult favorite, the jazz session, with a mix of performers which keep the boho locale on their toes. During the rest of the week you can catch Latin beats, reggae, blues, rock, folk, live theatre and pretty much anything else. La Casa Usher, 2259 Alameda, (261) 15 304 3602. 8pm till late (performances 11pm), closed on Mondays.
The Vines of Mendoza
As the first and only true tasting room in South America, The Vines of Mendoza offers the broadest selection of premium boutique wines from Argentina. The bar has just opened in a new location on Belgrano and everything is shiny and new. Compare the wine notes with one of their tasting flights or choose a glass from the impressive list of limited production wines. Chatting with their learned bartenders and sipping fabulous flavours makes for a truly enjoyable afternoon. Belgrano 1194, Tel. 261 438-1031. Mon-Sat, 3pm-10pm www.vinesofmendoza.com
Nick and the Shots: Interview Mendoza’s live music scene is growing and in these months you can catch lots of live acts in the city’s pubs and bars. One band that is shaking up the scene is Nick and the Shots: formed by Aussie Nick and Mendocineans Alejandro, Mark and Chapu. Check out www.facebook. com/pages/Nick-The-Shots for upcoming gigs in Mendoza. We chat to Nick about rock, dutch courage and Cabernet Sauvignon: Your shows have quite a local following as well as a gringo crowd, were you surprised that Mendocinos love English language rock so much? Actually, I am quite surprised. I guess most of the big names in rock are English and American, but the Argentines are very proud of their own musical genres and rock history. The songs we play are well known international hits from famous bands. It is still a really great feeling hearing people sing along to the songs we play. We have our own original songs too, all in English, and they are also well received. It’s great to hear the fans singing along to the band’s own songs too, certainly the best compliment a band can receive. What drink do you like to rock out with? Beer usually. Singing with the band, it keeps my throat hydrated and a little bit of ‘Dutch Courage’ does help with the show.
If you were to describe each of your band mates as a wine what would they be and why? We have ‘Chapu’ - our saxophone/keyboard guy who is pretty cool, and quiet... but at the same time, he is pretty complex. I would say he would be the Cab Sav of the band, complex and fills up the sound of the band. Mark on Bass guitar - he is the easy going one in the band, everything is always good with him, holding the bass end of the songs down with a subtle melody. So, he would have to be the Malbec - he never fails. Alejandro on the drums is the most complex. Everything has to be just right: the presentation, the sound, the timing - even the lighting of the stages we play on. He is definitely an old world wine, with a full intensity and has to be served at the right moment. If you could only listen to one song for the rest of your life, what would it be? ‘Just How Many Times’ from Cold Chisel, Australia’s best and biggest rock band, that never made to international fame, but is considered Australia’s best at home. In fact, the opening lyrics to that song are ‘Lovers see the world through an old red wine’. Maybe they were singing about a nice, classic Malbec…
dining out mendoza city
For a romantic evening outdoors Anna Bistro is unsurpassable. Carved wood tables adorned with candles are nestled between exotic flowering plants and hanging vines. Couple this with soft lighting and tranquil jazz, and any mundane evening is transformed into a memorable event. Gazing at their menu of delectable dishes, from ceviche and cesto de portobello (pastry piled with mushrooms and walnuts), to melt-in-your-mouth salmon al limon and trout, produces an unavoidable bout of indecisiveness. The Anna Bistro staff swear by the T-Bone steak and local Malbec combo. End the feast with a Blackberry Cheesecake and glass of bubbly on the sunken sofas for a quick trip to nirvana. Av. Juan B. Justo 161 Tel: (261) 425 1818. Everyday 12pm - 1am. Avg. meal cost: $130 pesos. FLORENTINO
For an intimate, unusual and memorable evening - Ituzaingo is one of the city’s best kept secrets. A ‘closed door’ restaurant located in a historic house in the bohemian quarter, Ituzaingo has been receiving rave reviews from locals, expats and travellers alike who relish in the warm atmosphere, good company, unique art, and good food all accompanied by an eclectic music mix. The maestro in question is Gonzalo Cuervo who likes to welcome in up to 45 people in his attractive loft conversion house or leafy summer garden, and his chef Lucan can delight guests with an eight course menu of Argentine flavours catered to an international palate, or simply relax with a glass of wine and nibble on a picada or empanadas. This is a real place to meet the wines, food, art, music and hospitality of Argentina. Ituzaingo, tel (261) 15 666 5778, firstname.lastname@example.org. ar, 8 course menu of argentine cuisine with 3 glasses of wine and a welcome drink, or you can order sharing plates and wine by the glass.Prices between 140 - 230 pesos per person. Open Tues, Thurs, Fri & Sat from 8.30pm. Reservations essential and call for more info on new private cooking classes and special guided wine tastings.
Florentino is a real delight. An intimate, artistic bistro tucked into a converted house by Plaza Italia provides the perfect nook to try some of Mendocino chef Sebastian Flores’ salubrious and scrumptious dishes. We recommend the indulgent mushrooms with cheese (proper parmesan), thyme and garlic croutons, or the warm salad of squid, chorizo and watercress. There is a nice variety of mains - and it hasn’t taken long for their succulent chivito (baby goat) to become the thing of Mendoza legends: moist, tender and lean on a bed of creamy polenta and roasted garlic. Desserts are just as irresistible as is the extensive Argentine wine list. Florentino has made a very promising start and its beautiful simplicity and good taste is a real charm. Montevideo 675. Tel: (261) 464 9077. Mon - Sat, 12.30pm - 12am (serves early dinner also). Avg meal AR$135 (without wine)
This cosy Mendocino restaurant has a casual, rustic charm about it. A colourful hub of activity on a quiet street, Patrona attracts a crowd full of locals every night of the week who come for the honest, traditional Argentine food and friendly and warm atmosphere. Classic dishes like the hearty empanadas and sizzling asado are worthy and popular fare but the real star here is Patrona’s warm, open sandwiches We recommend the artichoke hearts and goats cheese; roasted vegetables with white wine and honey; or the more traditional pick of rich glands cooked in lemon. A decent wine list and some satisfying desserts complete the gastronomy experience but the key to Patrona is the cosy way that they really make you feel at home. Mi casa es Patrona casa! 9 de Julio 656. Tel: (261) 4291057. Mon to Sat: 12.30pm - 3.30pm and 8.30pm - close. Avg. meal cost: $100/(including starter, main dish, dessert+a glass of wine)
With an attractive fairy lit patio and terrace outside, this is the perfect spot for Summer. Opened recently by three friends, El Mercadito is offering something a little bit different to
Mendoza. With a cool vibe, relaxed music and attractive waiting staff, this is quickly becoming a favorite hot spot for a coffee, bite to eat or evening cocktails. Opening in the morning for healthy breakfasts and antioxidant juices, El Mercadito stays open throughout the siesta with its light menu of sandwiches, big salads and some Argentine classic meals. Chow down to big healthy salads like the ‘Langoustine’ with huge juicy prawns, fresh avocado and green leaves or tuck into one of their big toasted sandwiches like smoked salmon and cream cheese, or jamon crudo and arugula served with chunky chips and homemade BBQ sauce. As the sun goes down make sure to try out one of their yummy strawberry mojitos! El Mercadito, Aristides Villanueva 521, (261) 4638847. Avg. meal price: $90.
Offering one of the most complete cooking and cultural experiences in Mendoza, this intimate restaurant serves classic Argentine countryside cuisine with a contemporary twist as well as its daily cooking classes. Chef Mauricio and Sommelier Eugenia welcome you into their converted family home and offer a 3 to 4 hour cooking class whereby you learn the culture of ‘cocina de campo’ as well as trying your hand at traditional cooking techniques like cooking in a mud oven, ‘al disco’ and learning the art of the perfect asado as well as making empanadas, choripan, homemade bread and chimichurri sauce. Five courses of traditional cuisine are paired with boutique Argentine wines and you finish off making fresh herb cocktails from the patio garden and can try rolling Argentine tobacco. A fun, cultural and culinary experience to enrich your understanding of Argentina and its cuisine. The restaurant is also open every evening (except Sundays) and serve classic Argentine dishes like a variety of empanadas and roasted meats along with signature dishes from Mauricio and boast a fantastic wine list and warm environment. Ceibo, 25 de Mayo 871 (in front of Plaza Italia), (261) 420 2992. Avg. meal price $130, cooking class from $100US.
Located in the elegant Park Hyatt, Grill Q serves up traditional regional cuisine at a five star level. Sit back in the chic parilla style restaurant amongst the cowhides and local artwork, pick from one of the many Mendocinean wines, make your order and watch the chefs at work in the open kitchen. They are famous for their grilled meats and gigantic empanadas,
and serve hearty Argentine classics such as ‘locro’ - a stew which hails back to the early independence days. Save room for the stunning desserts. The Hyatt’s other restaurant, Bistro M, offers a more gourmet evening menu and the most exuberant ‘lunch menu’ in town. With a gorgeous buffet spread of starters like thai squid salad, chicken ceasar with macadamia nuts and mezze style tapas, you’ll need to bring your stretchy waistbands to fit in the hearty and flavourful main options and the sumptuous dessert buffet on top. Put aside an hour or two for this tempting lunch. Chile 1124. (261) 441 1225. Avg. meal Grill Q $180 pesos. Bistro M Executive Menu $170 with starter buffet, main course, dessert buffet and glass of wine.
Farrah is the type of restaurant that shines in personality, from the funky and colourful décor and eclectic music, to the unique wine list and menu that has dishes such as ‘flirting’, ‘last sensation’ and ‘wet, wet, wet’. The good taste and character showing through are those of the three Farro sisters and their brother. The creative mind in the kitchen is middle sister Belen who creates fresh and innovative dishes with plenty of meat, fish and veg options. Lots of different salads and starters, creative ciabattas such as blue cheese and rainbow trout, pasta dishes including artichoke lasagna and their signature dish of sticky BBQ ribs, all sit on the menus in this attractive house in the 5ta. Save
room for their refreshing sage crème brulee or oozing Chocolate volcano to savour Farrah’s ‘last sensation’. Tues - Sun from 8pm, open for an Lunch Special Menu with two courses and coffee for $45. Paso de los Andes 1006, tel (261) 423 9981. Avg. meal: $90
outside city center Casa de Campo
This charming restaurant is a real Mendocinean institution - for nine years they have been serving up traditional dishes like suckling pig and braised rabbit from ‘Grandma’s recipes’ and are a favourite on the Maipu dining circuit for lunch. Two months ago the same family and friend team behind the original Casa de Campo opened a new parilla style restaurant 100m down the road to compliment the lunch restaurant, by offering some of the same homemade classics alongside grilled meats and vegetables in the evenings. Succulent cuts of meat, a fantastic wine list, live music and shows on Thursdays and a large garden for all the family make this a personal and truly Argentine experience. Restaurant Urquiza 1516 (lunch) & Parilla Urquiza 1702 (dinner and Sunday lunch), Coquimbito, Maipu. Lunch everyday at the restaurant from 12pm to 6pm, Dinner at the Parilla Wed - Sat from 9pm and Sunday lunch. (261) 481 1605.
Tucked away among the sprawling Maipu vineyards lies Club Tapiz Resort and its lovely restaurant Terruño. This handsome eatery boasts an elegant interior, excellent service and a wine list that is sure to please even the most finicky of wine snobs. Their chef compiles a tantalising menu that includes top notch lomo steaks, a rotating range of salads and a savory ginger/honey chicken dish that is second to none. If you like what you see and taste, book a room in one of their seven Renaissance-style villas. Don’t forget to call ahead for dinner reservations! Ruta 60 s/n 5517 Maipú. AR$ 190. Tel: (261) 496 0131. tapiz.com. Lunch, everyday, 12pm - 3pm. Dinner, Sun - Thurs, 8pm-11pm, Fri & Sat until 12am. Avg. meal cost: $180 pesos. TERRUÑO
These months are always filled with lots of Vendimia-related wine events, but if you are looking for something outside of the traditional festival events (listed on page 8) check out our events planner at www.wine-republic.com/events or our facebook page www.facebook.com/winerepublic
MendoRock: 1, 2 & 3 February
Mendoza’s biggest rock festival with three days of headbanging and crowdsurfing at Parque O’Higgins. Featuring all local bands that have battled it out in front of a jury to take part.
Wine and Tapas: Every Thursday
Once a week The Vines Wine Bar at The Park Hyatt fills up with locals and tourists who come to sample an array of tapas to go with a couple glasses of wine from one featured winery. Every Thursday at 9pm, $90, The Hyatt.
Jazz on the Lake: 8, 9 and 10 February
Free jazz concerts in the evening out by the lake in Parque San Martin. Bring a picnic and enjoy the relaxed jazz drifting over the waters.
Classical Music on the Wine Routes: 23 March - 7 April
One of the best music and wine concert series’ in Argentina, these two weeks are filled with classical music concerts held at different wineries and performance spaces across the Mendoza region. Tickets are exchanged for powdered milk which is used in a food drive, and for dates and info visit www.cultura.mendoza.gov.ar 27
the winery guide LUJAN DE CUYO Terrazas de los Andes The fine wine sister of Chandon Argentina is a beautifully restored bodega with wellappointed tasting room. Fav. Wine: Cheval de los Andes. (0261) 488 0704/5. Thames and Cochabamba, Perdriel, Luján de Cuyo.www. terrazasdelosandes.com
Winery in Focus: MELIPAL
This modern winery sits inside lush green vineyards surrounded by tall trees and framed by the iconic Andes mountain backdrop. Attractive and quirky, the winery is constructed using large stones and charcoal green painted walls with a small restaurant at one end overlooking the lake. Under the direction of one of Mendoza’s best-known chefs, Lucas Bustos, the restaurant boasts a five course menu of colorful, unusual and rich dishes which are paired with their wines. Take for example the ricotta stuffed vineleaf (a Malbec leaf taken from the very vineyard in front!) paired with their Torrontes from Salta; or the whopping great Argentine steak with red pepper sauce and paired with their Malbec Reserva as well as a sneak peek at their winery-exclusive double barreled Malbec. A perfect place to eat and drink away a beautiful afternoon in Mendoza. Bodega Melipal, Ruta 7, 1056km, Agrelo, Lujan. www.bodegamelipal.com, (261) 524 8040.
Ruca Malen Excellent food, great guiding and first-class wines. The pairings over lunch make for an unforgettable culinary experience.(0261) 4138909 .R.N.7, Km 1059, Agrelo, Luján de Cuyo. www.bodegarucamalen.com Chandon The original foreign investor, French-owned Chandon has been making great sparkling wines in Mendoza since the 1960s. (0261) 490 9968.R.P.15, Km 29, Agrelo, Luján de Cuyo. www.bodegaschandon.com.ar Dominio del Plata Argentina´s most famous female winemaker Susana Balbo is creating some rich and complex wines in the heart of Agrelo. Fav. Wine: Ben Marco. (0261) 498 9200. Cochabamba 7801 Agrelo, Luján de Cuyo. www.dominiodelplata. com.ar Luigi Bosca Old, family owned operation with lots of heritage, handsome cellars and a tasting room.(0261) 498 1974. San Martin 2044, Mayor Drummond, Luján de Cuyo. www.luigibosca.com.ar Lagarde Owner of the oldest white wine in South America. Try the hand-crafted sparkling wine made from 100 year old vines.(0261) 498 0011 Ext. 27.San Martin 1745, Mayor Drummond. Luján de Cuyo. www.lagarde.com.ar Renacer This Chilean-owned winery creates the label Punto Final. Small, modern operation with tour that includes a hands-on lesson in blending. Brandsen 1863, Lujan de Cuyo. 261-524-4416 or 261524-4417. www.bodegarenacer.com.ar
Tapiz Great wine lodge Club Tapiz, high-end restaurant Terruño and an instructive wine tour including barrel and bottle tasting. (0261) 490 0202. Ruta Provincial 15, Km 32. Agrelo,Luján de Cuyo. www.tapiz.com
Kaiken This rustic 80 year-old winery houses a new venture by the prestigious Chilean winery Montes. Big and powerful wines, destined for fame.(0261) 524 3160. Roque Saenz Peña 5516, Las Compuertas, Luján de Cuyo. www.kaikenwines.com
Norton Old-style cellars contrast with a high-tech production line. Tank and barrel tastings,and jug fillings on Thursdays are popular with the locals. (0261) 490 9700. R.P.15, Km 23.5. Perdriel. Luján de Cuyo. www.norton.com.ar
Catena Zapata Showcase winery designed like a Mayan temple overlooking vineyards and the Andes Mountains. Rich, complex wines.(0261) 413 1100.Cobos s/n, Luján de Cuyo. www. catenawines.com
Melipal Great Malbec and gourmet lunches make Melipal one of the most exclusive wineries to visit. (0261) 524 8040.R.N.7, 1056km, Agrelo, Luján de Cuyo. www.bodegamelipal.com.ar Decero Attractive, modern facility with spectacular views of the mountains from the cozy tasting room. (0261) 524 4748. Bajo las Cumbres 9003, Agrelo, Luján de Cuyo. www.decero.com Clos de Chacras Charming boutique operation with nice history. A five minute walk from Chacras plaza. Fav. Wine: Gran Estirpe. (0261) 496 1285/155 792706. Monte Libano s/n, Luján de Cuyo. www.closdechacras.com.ar Carmelo Patti Mendoza’s most famous garagista. Carmelo Patti himself is often there to show you around (in Spanish). Fav. Wine: Cabernet Sauvignon from the barrel. (0261) 498 1379. San Martin 2614, Luján de Cuyo. Vistalba Tasting room where one entire wall is a subterranean cross section of the actual vineyard clay, roots and rocks. Fab restaurant. Fav Wine: Petit Verdot. (0261) 498 9400. Roque Saenz Peña 3135, Vistalba. www. carlospulentawines.com Belasco de Baquedano Gleaming modern facility with fascinating aroma room and restaurant with Andean view. (0261) 524 7864. Cobos 8260, Lujan de Cuyo. www.belascomalbec.com Piattelli A lovely family owned winery done in a Tuscan style. Enjoy lunch on a deck beside a pond. Fav. Wine: Oaked Torrontes.(0261) 479 0123. Calle Cobos 13710, Lujan de Cuyo. www. piattellivineyards.com Achaval Ferrer Modern boutique close to Mendoza riverbed. Big concentrated wines. (0261) 488 1131.Calle Cobos 2601, Perdriel, Lujan de Cuyo. www. achaval-ferrer.com
REFERENCES Restaurant Lodging Driving time from Mendoza City Art Gallery
Alta Vista Masterful mix of modern and traditional. Tasting includes distinctive Torrontes or single vineyard Malbecs. (0261) 496 4684. Álzaga 3972, Chacras de Coria, Lujan de Cuyo. www. altavistawines.com Mendel An old style winery ran by one of Argentina’s most famous winemaker dynasties the De La Motta family. (0261) 524 1621. Terrada 1863, Mayor Drummond, Lujan de Cuyo. www.mendel.com.ar
LOCATIONS REFERENCES Luján de Cuyo
Valle de Uco
For this edition we interview Clos de Chacras’s winemaker Marcela Alberto to talk about tradition, Malbec and harvest magic! www.closdechacras.com.ar
Benegas Lynch Rich history and richer wines.Lovely old bodega with lots of character. Fav. Wine: Cabernet Franc. (0261) 496 0794.Ruta 60. Cruz de Piedra. www.bodegabenegas.com
What is the style of the wines of Clos de Chacras? The style of the wines is strongly characterized by elegance, finesse and balance, seeking to achieve in addition, an expression of the varietal fruit that allow us to discover the magic of each varietal and dream to discover each one in our blend. For us, these wines are special because we put in all the passion and dedication possible, seeking to reflect our winemaking tradition and our tireless spirit in an everyday search for the best quality possible.
Dolium A completely underground winery with innovative design and top notch Malbecs. (0261) 490 0190.R.P.15, Km 30 s/n, Agrelo. www.dolium.com
with excellent view of mountains and vines. (0261) 488 7229 Ext. #2.Callejón Maldonado 240, Perdriel. www.bodegadanterobino.com
Bonfanti A lovely winery in a pastoral setting. Up close and personal tours with the owners themselves and a tasting room set amidst the vines. (0261) 488 0595.Terrada 2024, Lujan de Cuyo.
Caelum Modern, medium size winery on the main road to Chile just before the mountains and has a nice family feel to it. Fav. Wine: Rosado.(0261) 156 439564.R.N.7 km 1060, Agrelo. www. bodegacaelum.com.ar Pulenta Estate Cool minimalist design and rich complex wines make this a winery with finesse and style. Fav. Wine: Cabernet Franc. (0261) 155 076426. Ruta 86, Km 6.5Lujan de Cuyo. www. pulentaestate.com Viña Cobos American winemaker Paul Hobbs was one of the first to recognise the possibilities of Malbec and his Bramare label is possibly one of the best examples of this varietal.(0261) 479 0130.R.N. 7, Lujan de Cuyo. www.vinacobos.com Dante Robino Founded in 1920, an atmospheric old-style winery with a modernist, light-filled tasting room
Septima A beautifully designed winery with clear views of the mountains and a large terrace used for sunset wine events. Owned by the Spanish experts in sparkling wine, Cordineau, they make fab sparkling wine under label Maria. (261) 498 9550, Ruta 7, 6.5km, Lujan. www.bodegaseptima.com Nieto Senetiner In a beautiful old winery in Chacras, Senetiner was founded in 1888 and makes a great range of wines and sparkling wines. (261) 498 0315, Guardia Vieja S/N, Vistalba, Lujan www. nietosenetiner.com.ar
VALLE DE UCO O. Fournier Most architecturally innovative winery with rich, concentrated wines. Excellent lunches in the modernist visitor center. (02622) 451 088.Los Indios s/n, La Consulta, San Carlos.www. ofournier.com
Harvest is coming, what is your favorite part or moment and why? The harvest time is the start of a new dream every year, it begins a new creation. Each of the stages is a great moment and very special to me, tasting the grapes and thus to estimate the probable date of harvest, as well, to follow the evolution of each of the vessels, they become for me a challenge and the opportunity to begin to dream of these great wines that soon will impact in each of our followers. What is your favorite pairing for malbec? The perfect pairing for malbec from my personal taste is a big roast goat, nicely flamed seasoned pork and a very good pasta with cream, mushrooms and ham.
SALENTEIN Salentein Designed like a temple to wine, this ultraconcept winery includes a modern art gallery, lodge, and chapel set high in the Andean valley. (02622) 429 500.R.P 89 s/n, Tunuyan.www. killkasalentein.com Altus A red barn-like winery which faces a lovely adobe-style restaurant doing excellent lunches. (02622) 155 080261. Las Vencedoras, Tupungato.www.altusdetupungato.com.ar Finca La Celia One of the valley’s oldest wineries. They conduct excellent tours and tastings.(02622) 451 010. Av. De Circunvalacion s/n, Eugenio Bustos, San Carlos. www.fincalacelia.com.ar 29
the winery guide
LOCATIONS REFERENCES Mendoza City Neuquén City
Familia Zuccardi A professional, far-sighted operation. Attractive restaurant amidst the vines, famous for its asado-style lunches and generous wine pourings.(0261) 441 0000.R.P. 33, Km 7.5, Maipú . www. familiazuccardi.com
La Azul Simple, small production winery with not so simple Malbecs and a small traditional restaurant.(02622) 423 593.R.P 89 s/n. Agua Amarga, Tupungato. www. bodegalaazul.com Benvenuto de la Serna Charming, family-run operation making a very decent Sangiovese under the Mil Piedras label.(02622) 420 0782.Carril Los Sauces s/n, VistaFlores, Tunuyan. www. benvenutodelaserna.com Andeluna The old-world style tasting room looks upon dramatic views of vineyards against mountains. (02622) 423 226 Ext 113.R.P. 89, Km 11, Gualtallary, Tupungato.www. andeluna.com
Lopez Popular, old-style winery with two museums on the wine. Restaurant offers gourmet cuisine with a panoramic view. (0261) 497 6554.Ozamis 375, Gral Gutiérrez, Maipú. www.bodegaslopez.com.ar Flichman Steeped in history and tradition. Charming, pink-hued, colonial-style bodega, set in the leafy vineyards of southern Maipu.(0261) 497 2039.Munives 800, Barrancas, Maipú. www.flichman.com
Gimenez Riili A brand new family run affair, part of the exciting Vines of Mendoza project. This is a modern winery in a stunning setting. (0261)155074653/154543240. Ruta 94 (s/n), Tunuyán. www.gimenezriili.com Atamisque This Uco winery has some great white wines, a unique stony roof and they breed their own trout which is served in the charming restaurant. (0261) 156 855184. R.P. 86 (Km 30), San Jose, Tupungato. www.atamisque.com
Carinae Small, charming, French-owned winery offering personal tours and well-honed wines. Surrounded by vineyards and olive trees. (0261) 499 0470.Videla Aranda 2899, Cruz de Piedra, Maipú www.carinaevinos.com
Trapiche Argentina’s biggest winery is a mix of old and new, traditional and industrial, and has the old train tracks leading up to it. (0261) 520 7666. Mitre s/n. Coquimbito, Maipú. www. trapiche.com.ar Tempus Alba A fine modern winery set in the rural lanes of southern Maipu. The rooftop terrace overlooks the vineyard. (0261) 481 3501. Perito Moreno 572, Maipú. www.tempusalba.com 30
Rutini / La Rural Well-stocked museum with invaluable antiques like cowhide wine presses and buckets. Giant oak tanks stand in large, cavernous halls. (0261) 497 2013 Ext.125. Montecaseros 2625, Coquimbito, Maipú .www.bodegalarural.com.ar
Familia Di Tommasso Officially the second oldest winery in Mendoza and still run by Argentine hands. Their charming and rustic restaurant looks onto the vineyard, just two steps away. (0261) 524 1829. Urquiza 8136, Russell, Maipú. www. familiaditommaso.com
Cepas Elegidas Making real ‘vinos de autor’, US born Brennan Firth makes his limited production wines in a small winery in Maipu. Exclusive and ultra high end wines, a visit and tasting is with the winemaker himself. To visit Cepas Elegidas, call Brennan on (0261) 467 1015. Cecchin A family winery using organic and biodynamic principles where you can see the entire process from the beautiful green vineyards to the minimal intervention winery. (261) 497 6707, MA Saez 626, Maipu, www. bodegacecchin.com.ar
SAN MARTIN Familia Antonietti A family winery in San Martin where you can have a tour with the owners, try some of their sparkling wines and stay for a homecooked lunch. (0261) 4390964/155688905. Pizarro s/n esq. Zelazar Chapanay, San Martín.
Neuquén Bodega del Fin del Mundo This large industrial winery is Patagonia’s biggest producer and has an impressive range of varietals. (0299) 4855004, RP No 8km, 9 San Patricio del Chañar. Bodega Familia Schroeder A large winery with a good restaurant that produces lots of sparkling wine and Pinot Noir and has dinosaur fossils in the cava. (0299) 4899600, RP No 7, Calle 7 Northe, San Patricio del Chañar. Bodega NQN An attractive boutique production of unique wines with a handsome rustic restaurant and a small posada. (0299) 4897500, RP No 7 Calle 15, San Patricio del Chañar. Familia Schroeder
USEFUL INFORMATION Police, Fire Department and Emergency Medical Dial 911. Bus Terminal Tel: 431-3001 Av. de Acceso Este and Costanera. Bus Routes: Maipu, Linea 10 N° 171, 172, 173, Rioja street and Garibaldi. Chacras, N° 115 or 116, 25 de Mayo and Montevideo. Airport Tel: 5206000 Accesso Norte s/n. El Plumerillo. Shipping Wine Ordinary post will not ship wine and a courier can cost at least U$ 30 a bottle. The most economical way is send it with your checked luggage in a special styrofoam wine box, available at most wine stores or at Trout & Wine, Espejo 266. Crime Be alert. Mendoza does have crime. Hold on to purses on the street and at restaurants. Avoid carrying valuables. Hostel lockers are not safe. Danger spots: bus terminal and internet cafes. Bike Tours in Maipu The most economical way to do a wine tour in Mendoza. Take bus (see below) to Urquiza street where you’ll find several bike rental companies. Some are notorious for dodgy bikes. Check and double check you get a good mount as a puncture can cause a mini nightmare. Head south, as north of Maipu is urban and not pretty. Recommended wineries: Rutini, Tempus Alba, Di Tommasso and certainly Carinae. When returning have a late lunch at the excellent Casa de Campo. Nightclubs In most nightclubs you have to queue twice for a drink which can get slightly exasperating as the night wears on. It is wise to buy several drink tickets at once for an easy, unimpeded flow of alcohol. Bathrooms are usually ill equiped so bring your own toilet paper. Many nightclubs are 200 light years away in Chacras which can cause problems getting home. Clubs rarely get going before 2am. Taxi Services Taxi Godoy Cruz Tel: 427-0055 - Radiomóvil Guaymallén Tel: 445-5855 - Mendocar Paraná 250 Tel: 423-6666 - La Veloz del Este Alem 439 Teléfono: 423-9090. Mendoza Expats Club An organization which enables Expatriates to meet each other. www.mendozaexpats.org. Hair Dresser English speaking and eccentric hairdresser Haisley from Delite will do your hairdo right. Arístides Villanueva 444. (261) 429-9124 Leocut: Mendoza plaza shopping, (0261) 4490239