MENDOZA`S FREE MAGAZINE
Nยบ48 FEB / MAR 2011
A Day in the Life of a Grapepicker wine harvest festival events the best wineries to visit w w w. w i n e - r e p u b l i c. c o m 1
Malbec Export Boom, Drought, Rescue Me..................................6
Bars & Events ...........................................................................28
Vendimia Past and Present.......................................................... 8
Dining Out .................................................................................. 30
Mendoza puts on a Show ........................................................ 10 Vendimia Events Calender ........................................................ 14 Escape the Crowds ....................................................................22
MAPS & TIPS Useful Information: Emergency, Airport, Wine Shipping, Crime, Night Clubs and Taxi Services .........................................................32
Map of Maipu ..............................................................................32
A day in the life of a Grapepicker ............................................. 17
Map of Chacras de Coria .............................................................32
Fairtrade in Mendoza ..................................................................19
Map of Mendoza City Center ......................................................34
Vendimia Wishlist ...................................................................... 16 The Winery Guide The best wineries to visit ..................................26 Chocolate Chips: Everything you wanted to know about oak ..........29
CREDITS Issue February - March 2011 10,000 Copies Published by Seven Colors S.A. Mendoza, Argentina Tel. +54 (261) 425-5613 E-mail: email@example.com Editor: Charlie O’Malley Assistant Editor: Amanda Barnes Publicidad: Ana Laura Aguilera (155018874), Mariana Gómez Rus firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com Design: Beattub, www.beattub.com.ar Printer: Artes Gráficas UNION Contributing Authors: Charlie O´ Malley, Amanda Barnes, Eryn Synder Opinions expressed in this magazine are not necessarily the editorial opinions of Wine Republic.
Rescue Me Any experienced mountain climber knows the very essential items required in a survival kit include matches and a compass. Now Andean adventurers should also consider including a credit card. A new law in San Juan stipulates that any trekkers or climbers that get lost and require rescuing must pay for it. An unlucky climber from Buenos Aires recently had her two day ordeal lost on Mt Mercedario made worse by a $30,000 peso bill at the end. Cordoba province has introduced a similar rule and there is talk that Mendoza should do the same. The only question now is if you die up there who pays to recover the body?
Malbec Export Boom Some recent statistics confirm that Argentine wine has firmly established itself on foreign wine shelves, especially in the United States. Sales of $ 222m US to the Northern colossus (the only major wine producing country in the world that does not produce enough wine to satisfy domestic consumers) means Argentina has knocked its Latin America wine rival Chile from the fourth spot regarding exports to North America. This fact is all the more remarkable when you consider that up until 2004, Chile’s largest winery Concha y Toro exported more wine than the whole of Argentina. Argentina now exports $ 860m US in total, not bad in comparison to a decade ago when Argentine wine hardly figured outside Argentina. The success is down to a combination of favorable exchange rates and a global love affair with Malbec, of which Argentina is the only significant producer. Now it only has Italy, France and Australia to beat for most favoured
wine region in the States. Other interesting statistics are that the wine industry here has a turnover of $2,625m US and employs 400,000 people. Argentina is the fifth biggest wine producing country in the World and the seventh biggest consumer. Despite the export boom, 77% of Argentine wine is still consumed at home.
Drought If anybody has any doubts about the seriousness of Mendoza’s water shortage, take a spin up to Potrerillos dam. One of Mendoza’s primary water sources, Potrerillos is a 21 square kilometre lake tucked in the mountains on the road to Chile. Currently it is beginning to look like a plain of mudflats as the extremely low water level lays bare sandy banks and even the old Route 42 is visible for the first time since it was originally submerged when the dam was built in 2002. If the water goes much lower, the small electric power plant will have to cease production. The reason why the lake is almost half empty is the lack of snowfall during the winter and it is scary to think what will happen to the city if there is another non-white winter in 2011. Other important dams in the province are even lower with El Carrizal at 52% capacity and El Nihuil and Valle Grande in the south at 41% and 30% respectively.
VendimiaPast and Present Charlie O’Malley takes us beyond the glitter and beauty queens, back to the roots of Vendimia. In the old days, when people relied on the land for a living and depended on large animals to get around, harvest time was one of the most important times of the year. All around the world, every society marked its significance in some way. Mendoza was no different. The days before harvest are always worrisome. Especially in a region where a five-minute hailstorm of icy golf balls can destroy a year’s work. So people sighed with relief when the crop was finally in. Farm labourers celebrated with music and dance. A young girl was selected amongst the harvesters and crowned with a bunch of grapes. She became The Harvest Queen, a symbol of beauty, optimism and thanksgiving. From these somewhat informal, spontaneous beginnings La Vendimia was born. April 1913 was an important date in its evolution. A business congress ended with a parade of coaches, each representing a vineyard, trundling through the city streets. A parade was born. It wasn’t until 1936 however when the first Harvest Queen was officially elected. Because of its working class roots, many families were reluctant to enter their daughters. This soon changed as the prizes grew richer and the title more prestigious. 1936 was also the first year an entrance fee was charged, justified by the fact that it was also the most spectacular. Decorated Gondolas floated on the park lake and fireworks entertained the masses.
In 1940, they used a giant floating set on the park lake surrounded by glittering gondolas. Sounds lovely but all that water, electricity and alcohol must have made it a health and safety nightmare. As luck would have it, a violent storm disrupted it entirely and the ceremony was forced indoors. The Queen was chosen in the Plaza hotel and the carnival cancelled until Monday. Finally, in 1963, a Greek style amphitheatre was opened in the park. At last the main show had a home and it celebrated with a colourful display of lights, sound and fireworks. The festival was growing. What had begun as a traditional rural party had now become a glitzy and sophisticated spectacle, done with flair and professionalism. The Harvest Queen, originally a kind of homage to women’s work and sacrifice in the fields, has evolved into an ambassador for Mendoza. The festival itself has become a showcase for the city, the region and the nation.
Did you know?
• Evita came in 1947 and politely refused the offer to be Queen. • The festival is a measure of the governors’ popularity. When he enters the amphitheater he will be either clapped or jeered. Sometimes he might send some minions beforehand to test the waters and prevent any possible embarrassment.
The festival´s growing popularity created problems. The increasing numbers of spectators made it difficult for the organizers to find a suitable venue. Somewhere was needed to showcase the performers and the crowning. It was a problem that would plague them for thirty years.
• In January 1970 Mendoza suffered a terrible flood. People died and cars and homes were wrecked. Yet the show must go on and the Vendimia went ahead with great success.
1939 saw the first Blessing of the Grapes. A statue of the Virgin Carrodilla presides over this ceremony, taking pride of place in the procession. Also in the same year a proper stage set was used in the Central Act and the organizers decided it was best to keep people in suspense and elect a Queen at the end rather than the beginning.
• In the unlikely event of a draw, the Queen wins by lottery. It happened in 1947.
• The judging panel was once a small elitist club of ambassadors and dignitaries. Now it’s an unwieldy mass of over 1000 representatives.
the first being the grandest with the much anticipated election of the National Harvest Queen. Staging this grand production requires almost as much preparation and labour as the harvest it celebrates. A GIANT WHITE HORSE WAS BROUGHT ON STAGE TO REPRESENT A NEW ARGENTINA
Mendoza puts on a Show
Long before the vines begin to ripen, planning for the Acto Central is already afoot. As early as November, the National Secretary of Culture summons a panel of experts to hear carefully prepared proposals for the Vendimia show that will occur in March of the following year. Last year’s winning script, “Cantos de vino y libertad”, was told from the perspective of a horse and this equestrian theme was carried throughout; in the final acts a giant white horse was brought on stage to represent a new Argentina, independent from Spain. While each year is unique, certain components and themes are traditionally retained. General San Martin always makes an appearance, as does the holy Virgin de Carrodilla, patron saint of the vineyards. The exciting part for Vendimia veterans, like actor Guillermo Jose Garcia, is finding new ways to represent the same themes, figures, and concepts that Argentineans have come to expect. Garcia tells me about a year when the Virgin was represented by several dancers, all dressed in the Virgin’s robes, moving together on the stage. This was quite scandalous to many spectators accustomed to seeing the Virgin as a dignified statue carried out during the show. He explains, “Some thought it was unsanctified to present her in this way, but others appreciated the symbolism…she was more human and it also showed that every woman…everyone is a guardian of our heritage.” Such creative interpretations dreamt up by scriptwriters and directors must be carefully considered by the panel. The success and reception of a Vendimia performance is viewed by many as the litmus test of the current government. Not only is the show hugely important to the growing tourism industry, it is also nationally broadcast and regularly attended by visiting officials. Weighing innovation and tradition becomes a complex political affair; yet, eventually a decision is met. Once the production group has been chosen, the director hired, and the script approved, the real work begins and the government awards several hundred thousand pesos to see that it is done. COMMITTED ARTISTS ENDURE ANKLE SPRAINS, DEMANDING DIRECTORS, AND OUTRAGEOUS COSTUMES
Close to a thousand people are hired to realize the director’s vision for the Vendimia act. Workers are commissioned to transform the stage into that year’s chosen design. Technicians are brought in to oversee the lighting, the fireworks display, and other visual effects. Stagehands are recruited from the local community and put to work in the final Eryn Snyder looks into the making of stages of production. Hundreds of costumes are made and enormous the Vendimia’s ultimate night, stage-props are built. the ACTO CENTRAL The most significant milestone in this hiring process is by far selecting the dancers and actors who will take the stage. In December, the Carved into the hills of El Parque San Martin lies the Frank Romero show’s organizers hold multiple castings in several districts and then Day amphitheater, and each year it lends itself to the creative minds are charged with the difficult job of deciding who will make it to the of Mendoza who transform it into the grand stage of the Acto Central. Frank Romero Day amphitheater. In 2009, close to 2,000 performance The culmination of Vendimia festivities, the Acto Central is a theatrical artists registered to compete for only 760 roles. performance divided into several acts that blend traditional dances Dancers are expected to have ample experience and credentials. with modern movement, national history with fantasy. Complete with Professional dancers turn out from Mendoza’s best companies hoping a dazzling firework finale, it is a two-hour swirling spectacle requiring to make the cut. Folk dancers travel from Argentina’s more rural regions the synchronized efforts of hundreds of dancers, actors, stagehands, and, if they earn one of the coveted spots, they return as heroes to and technicians. For three consecutive nights the show is performed, their local communities who will watch the televised broadcast with 10
pride. For the actors who typically make up the trees, vines, and various elements in the play, the competition is for the few leads that each Vendimia offers. However, regardless of the part, Garcia shares that he enjoys Vendimia because it’s “the one time a year that all of us artists can work together on the same project.” For four hours a day, five days a week, the actors and dancers push themselves through a month of condensed practices and rehearsals. These committed artists endure ankle sprains, demanding directors, and outrageous costumes to make it to the stage. But the work is well worth it, Garcia assures me. “I remember my first Vendimia. There were over 40,000 people that first night…I can’t even describe the feeling. I had goose-bumps all over”. PERFORMERS HAVE GONE ON STRIKE DEMANDING HIGHER WAGES However, the pre-production period is not without its fair share of road-bumps. Disagreements and delays inevitably arise. In recent years there has been local discontent with growing number of tickets withheld for government officials and tourism agencies. For the 2010 Vendimia, the limited amount of tickets for the opening show were rumored to have been sold out within hours of being made available to the public. In addition to external criticism, Vendimia organizers also face internal struggles. In the past, performers have gone on strike demanding higher wages, momentarily halting production. Also on the night itself, poor infrastructure, difficult access and overcrowding mean the event can be somewhat chaotic. Yet, despite such obstacles, the show prevails. What the Acto Central
represents to the people of Mendoza is far greater than any debates over money or politics. On opening night, those without tickets crowd the theater’s surrounding hills to witness the show and any disputes between artists are pushed aside. All focus is on the stage and giving the audience an amazing show. Recent stagehand Federico Sanz shares that, far more important than his pay, he was grateful to just be a part of this great act. He passionately explains, “It is the most important event of the year! It is a celebration not only for Mendoza, but for all of Argentina.” For the hundreds involved in this tremendous undertaking, the Acto Central is an opportunity to express their pride in their heritage, their country, and their ability to put on one hell of a show.
Vendimia Events CalendEr Vendimia brings a host of events that last throughout February and March. Here we round up some of the main happenings, but don’t forget to visit www.wine-republic.com/events for a complete list of what to do in the city. For more information on vendimia visit www.vendimia.mendoza.gov.ar
4 – 6 February, Music and Dance. Music and dance performances will herald the start of the Vendimia festivities at the Predio Fuente de los Continentes in San Martin Park. Tango, folklore and other Latin rhythms (including rumba, flamenco, salsa and Brazilian music) are all performed and there are workshops for those who want to do more than watch. This is a free event and starts at 9pm. 11 – 13 February, Jazz on the Lake. Catch the free live jazz by the lake in San Martin Park on 11th, 12th and 13th at 10pm. A classic car show and a bar add to the festivities. 11 – 13 February, Mendorock. For those wanted to rock out a bit, join the Mendorock gigs at Teatro Gabriela Mistral in Parque O’Higgins at 8pm on 11th, 12th and 13th February. The bands are all from Mendoza. 15 – 20 February, Semana Federal. A week-long series of celebrations in Parque Civico where each of the 18 departments of Mendoza (accompanied by their beauty queen) put on different dance and music performances with typical food stands and an artisan market.
27 February, Blessing of the Grapes. This is one of the most traditional events in the Vendimia festival – the blessing of the harvest in Guaymallen. At 9pm everyone gathers in the Predio de la Virgen for the Bendicion de los frutos. 24 - 26 February, Wine Mega-tasting (Megadegustacion). A three day evening wine tasting event where you can slurp your way through some of Mendoza’s finest. Sarmiento (between Belgrano and Av 25 Mayo). 1 March, Gala of the Queens. In the pretty gardens of Casa Fader in Lujan there is an evening gala at 8pm where you can see all the queens in their finest. 4 March, Queen’s parade. Watch all the queens parade the city centre streets sat atop their floats with princesses throwing flowers and grapes out to the crowds during the Via Blanca de las Reinas. Starts at 10pm on Avenida Colón, then San Martín, Las Heras, Chile and finally Sarmiento. 5 March, Vendimia Carousel. Hearty and genuine parade of floats, gauchos and regional queens through Mendoza city center. There is even a mobile asado on
display. Watch out for the flying melons and rocketing cartons of wine. It all begins at 10am at the main gates of Parque General San Martín, then follows Emilio Civit, Chile, Las Heras, San Martín and Colón. 5 March, Central Act. This is the biggie. Lavishly presented stage show with lights, singing, choreographed dancing, smiling and waving, all culminating in the coronation of the Harvest Queen. It all goes on a little bit too long (bring a cushion for your backside) but the locals love it. The best part is the spectacular fireworks display at the end. The setting is an outdoor amphitheatre in the park (Teatro Griego Frank Romero Day) starting at 10pm. Read more on the Acto Central on page 11 - 12. 6 – 7 March, second and third nights. For those who couldn’t afford or find tickets for the first night, there are two more chances to watch the final performance (without the queen election), at a reduced ticket price. 12 March, Vendimia for all. The alternative Vendimia. A fabulous show of caberet and transvestites and the colourful election of the Gay Vendimia Queen. Starting at 11pm at the Angel Bustelo auditorium.
vendimia Wishlist Every vendimia (harvest) in Mendoza creates some outstanding wines. Here we round up some of our favourite wines from the last six harvests.
TorrontÉs, Crios de Susana B, Dominio del Plata, 2009 Sauvignon Blanc, Urban Uco, O Fournier, 2010
This light and fruity torrontés has gentle honey notes with plenty of robust acidity and a concentrated finish. $43 AR
A soft yellow-green in colour with an aromatic citrus, green apple and floral nose and grapefruit in the mouth - this is a delicious young wine from last year’s harvest in Valle de Uco. $35 AR
Syrah, Reserva, Terrazas de los Andes, 2007
This peppery syrah has notes of tobacco and eucalyptus. A good value wine from the fine wine sister of Chandon. $55 AR
Petit Verdot, Ruca Malen, 2008
We love a good petit verdot, and this one from Ruca Malen really hits the spot – a big concentrated wine with robust tannins and hints of cherry, plum and dulce de leche. $80 AR
Blend, Trisagio, Benvenuto de la Serna, 2006
A delightful and unusual blend of Malbec, Petit Verdot and Tannat which has aromas of freshly cut grass and cherry with an excellent balance. $95 AR
For more Wine Republic recommendations on some great Argentine wines visit our website www.wine-republic.com
Malbec, DV Catena, Catena Zapata, 2005 A concentrated wine with classic malbec characteristics - heaps of cherries and cranberries while remaining elegant and balanced. $90 AR
A Day in the Life of a Grape Picker Amanda Barnes takes us back to the reality of the vendimia Many people have a romantic image of grape picking: fuelled by holiday packages grape in Southern France, sun soaked paintings of pickers at dawn and Russell Crowe movies. Even Mendoza’s Vendimia festival gives the impression that the harvest is somewhat glamorous. But beauty queens (who rarely visit a vineyard), parades and cocktail parties are a mile apart from the tough reality of grape picking. Hours are long, conditions are difficult and payment is poor. Most cosechadores (harvesters) are from northern Argentina or illegal workers from Bolivia and they just about make a living travelling around doing fruit and vegetable harvests of different seasons. Here is `a day in the life of a grape picker’ compiled through interviews with grape pickers, vineyard managers, winery owners, other associated professionals and a rather feeble day of grape picking in last year’s harvest. Grape picking is a hard, but honest day’s work.
6.58am In a squalid, run down rented house in Lujan de Cuyo there is a musty smell of stale sweat as 17 grape pickers sleep precariously in four shambolic rooms. Some lie on mattresses, others on floor mats and three in hammocks erected in the corners. Squeezed in together, sleeping head to toe, this band of grape pickers will live in this delapidated house as they see out the season (February to May) picking in the vineyards. The travelling group come from a small village in Southern Bolivia and have been picking in Mendoza for 8 years, which they combine with picking different fruit and vegetable harvests during the rest of the year in Argentina. They keep together, knowing that as 17 experienced black market pickers they have more power as a group than individually. Aucapoma (who uses a more ‘Spanish’ name, Marcelo, in the vineyard) is the
group ringleader and constantly reminds them of their collective power – grape pickers could hold a vineyard owner to ransom if they strike for better payment the morning of a pick. Harvest time is precious and many vineyard owners might just agree to pay. But Marcelo and the others know that cosechadores are one a penny. And this year four of them have been asked to do the prestigious night pick again. It is too much work to risk losing.
7am The alarm clock sounds next to Marcelo’s heaving body. He swipes it with his arm, grunts and barks at the others to wake up. Obediently everyone gets up and there’s some chatter among the four women as they peel apples and heat the coffee and tortitas for breakfast. Marcelo jostles people awake in a busy-body fashion, relishing in his role as leader. He is not in charge for any particular leadership qualities but rather because he was the first person with a minivan – a precious and essential commodity for travelling harvesters - and so naturally this became his clan some 10 years ago when he inherited the van from his ill brother. The group has another rundown minivan – collectively bought – which is how they travel the country. Often they might camp but as the vendimia (grape harvest) is almost 4 months long, they rent Sñr Velazquez’s rundown finca house for 15 pesos each per week, which includes water for the 1 flushing toilet, basic shower and gas for the hob.
7.15am Everyone piles into the minibuses heading to the vineyard. They arrive 8 minutes early and wait to follow the bodega truck to the vines.
7.30am Picking starts. Catunta (aka Carlos) and his wife Mahala (aka Maria) work in pairs: Maria picks, Carlos runs the buckets to the truck. Today they are picking grapes for wine that retail at $20 US. Carrying three empty 18 kg crates, Carlos and Maria both start picking their row. Bent over the vines with the crate directly below, Maria finds the stalk and chops it with a pair of scissors, dropping it into the crate careful not to take any leaves or bad bunches with it. You are paid per crate – so they pick as fast as they can. It takes them 7 minutes to fill a crate and then Carlos hauls one on his right shoulder and runs it to the truck to stack it on the back and collect a ficha or token (worth $1.40 AR) in exchange. He puts the token in his belt bag and runs for the next crate.
10am Cut. Drop. Cut. Drop. Cut. Drop. It’s starting to get hot and Maria’s lower back is aching from the crouching. She keeps cutting.
12pm 35ºC and Carlos is pouring sweat as he runs with loaded, heavy buckets to the van. At 56 it takes him longer than it used to. Maria’s hands are caked with sugary juice from the grapes. It’s starting to irritate the cut on her forefinger from a late Chardonnay harvest two weeks ago. She should wash her hands and leave it a few days to heal but she keeps going – it´s only 1 hour until lunch break. Cut. Drop. Cut. Drop. Carlos pauses for a slug of warm coke, Maria catches his eye. He puts the coke down and pulls out his scissors. Cut. Drop. Cut. Drop.
small onion from her pocket. He digs around for his penknife with his good hand and cuts a small slice of onion, wiping the white juice on his sting. He replaces the peel and keeps the onion in his pocket for dinner tonight, or another sting.
3.45pm Carlos loads another bucket. The vineyard manager looks in and tells Carlos to take out the leaves. He hollers at all the pickers to pick grapes, not leaves. Carlos runs back to the vines glaring at Maria who he sternly tells is not paying enough attention. Maria, with her head deep in the vines, blushes. Carlos touches her lightly on the back then turns to pick again. Cut. Drop. Cut. Drop.
4.36pm “Stop! We have enough!” The vineyard manager shouts as the final buckets are loaded on the truck. Carlos collects their last token of the day. Carlos and Maria collected 78 crates, 78 tokens - $109.20 ($54.60 each for 8 hours work). They hold onto the tokens to exchange at the end of the week. Another water bucket is presented - Carlos washes his sucrose soaked hands, minding his sting, and follows the rest to the minivans, then home. Some men are already talking about forging tokens. Carlos raises his eyebrows at Maria – it’s all talk, no-one would risk it. Carlos starts to nod off and hopes there’s an available mattress at the house.
9.30pm Carlos reaches over to turn off the alarm and pulls on more clothes – it’s cooler now. He goes to the kitchen for some potato and corn stew the women have made. Maria smiles with pride and brings him and the other three night pickers a small bit of ham. Young Cesar (who isn’t doing the night pick) grunts at no ham, but understands.
“Stop!” calls the vineyard manager – it’s their lunch break and no staff member wants to lose one minute of it. Carlos and Maria combine their crates, Maria quickly throws in three more bunches 9.50pm to fill it and Carlos runs to the truck as it pulls away towards the The four park the minivan and report to the vineyard office. They await bodega. Someone’s brought a bucket of water and they all wash the their instructions – night picking is for expensive wines that retail for thick, sticky layer of sugar off their purple hands. Water removes the $70US on foreign shelves. The vineyard manager makes them each sugar but the bluish purple staining will last the season, and the dirt is demonstrate the technique: cut the bunch and squat, placing it in the almost permanent. Maria looks at her hands and thinks of the hands crate. Carlos doesn’t fully understand the manager’s Spanish but thinks of the Vendimia queen in a poster she saw plastered on the road he is telling them (again) how they are investing a lot of trust in them as side. She couldn’t read what it said beneath but did notice how clean, outside pickers, that they will be paid $100AR per shift (not per bucket) elegant and white the young lady’s hands were. Carlos is rummaging and not to rush and lose any precious juice. Carlos nods anyway and through her woven bag, Maria pushes him out of the way and delves they troop to the floodlit vineyards. her own hands in to produce their lunch: rice with carrots and onion, a small piece of meat and a tortita each. They eat with their hands 11pm whilst sat on the floor by the shade of an olive tree and finish in 5 Cut. Squat. Place. Cut. Squat. Place. Night picking is slower and the minutes. They use the remaining 45 minutes to sleep. cooler weather makes it nicer but working in the dark has its problems: Carlos almost tripped with a full crate not seeing a mound of earth, and he has just nipped his finger with the scissors. He keeps quiet though, it 2.12pm The permanent vineyard staff come back after their siesta. The will stop bleeding soon. pickers had been complaining that they were running ten minutes late - cutting into their picking time. But as the truck pulls up they 11.40pm run out to the vines and start picking. Carlos puts his hand straight A television crew have arrived and are slowing down the process even behind a bunch and swears loudly as a wasp stings more. One journalist asks Carlos a question; he stares blankly - unable him. Maria passes him a to decipher the educated
Spanish. The vineyard manager cuts in directing the journalist to a picker further down the vine â€“ a trainee oenologist from Mendoza, working fulltime in the bodega. Carlos blushes and keeps picking. His knees click each time he bends to the bucket.
4.20am The shift is over. They finished picking the vineyard ahead of schedule and the manager is happy. All the staff and the four bolivians walk back to the bodega. A breakfast of coffee, pastries and ham and cheese sandwiches is laid on a table. Marcelo eats three sandwiches. Carlos catches the managerâ€™s eye and only takes two. The manager smiles and walks over with their $400AR thanking them. The Bolivians walk back to their minivan to rest before the day pick. The staff at the bodega stay a while longer drinking mate and talking about their plans for their day off in lieu.
4.45am Carlos enters the house, there are no mattresses left and Maria is sleeping on a hammock. He grabs the last sleeping mat and goes to sleep outside instead.
7am Carlos hears the alarm clock and Marcelo shouting from inside. The sun is up and it is time to start picking. With a special thanks to Charles Pestridge (Trout&Wine), Pablo Gonzalez (Hacienda del Plata) and Gabriela Furlotti (Finca Adalgisa) and many others for sharing their knowledge and experiences.
FAIR TRADE IN MENDOZA
Argentina has a long agricultural history but, like many countries, much of it has been under poor working conditions. In the past ten years there has been some movement towards a few Fair Trade initiatives but these are mainly driven by foreign consumer demands (coming from Europe or the US). Gabriela Furlotti who owns a boutique bodega in Chacras noticed the growing demand for Fair Trade products and wanted to use this consumer demand to try to improve working conditions for some vineyard workers and preserve dying out traditions in Mendoza. She wanted to make fair trade wine, which meant being produced by all legal workers (who have insurance, pensions and benefits) under better regulated working conditions (a minimum wage etc) along with many other strict requirements to improve work, social and environmental impacts. But in order to do this, something had to start from a more grass roots level. VinaSol is a co-operative of small producers and vineyard workers and was created to enable small producers, local cosechadores and other workers to have a means to better working conditions; to enable small, independent and local producers to resist being squeezed out and stand their ground in what is becoming an increasingly big and international game; and to preserve the historic contratista system (which enables humble families to work towards owning their own vineyard and opening more opportunities for local people to take a part in their land, not just wealthy foreign investors). This is the start of an important shift to preserving the grape picking and wine growing tradition to local families who can pass their skills and land from generation to generation. For more information visit www.vinasol. com.ar or www.solunawines.com
Escape the crowds
Had enough of parades and beauty pageants? Amanda Barnes has some suggestions to escape the crowds. A WINE TOUR ON HORSEBACK Horses, barbecue and wine seem to embody the image of Argentina for most gringos like me. So when Trout & Wine Tours started offering a horse trek through the vineyards stopping off at a winery and then heading back for an asado (Argentine barbecue) – it seemed like the perfect gaucho-meet-gringo day out. Our transfer collected us at 9am and whizzed us off to Cesar’s stable in the beautiful leafy Lunlunta valley in Maipu. Passing a pretty, crumbling church, we drove down a bumpy lane to what is more like a zoo than a stable. With horses, cows, goats, sheep and birds – Cesar breeds quite a lot, but what he is really famous for are his stunning thoroughbred criollo horses, which we would be riding today. Saddling up we headed out to trot through some picturesque vineyards where you could see the Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes shaping up on this early summer’s day. Cesar – who dresses appropriately in traditional gaucho wear – and his loyal dog Taco guided us through the rows of vines until we emerged at a headland looking over the Mendoza river (mostly dried up), the valley and the foothills of Lunlunta with the snow-capped Andes towering in the other direction – a view to linger over. The trek then took a slightly more adventurous note, galloping (or rather it felt like galloping to this rather inexperienced rider) and splashing through the shallow river, up small rocky bays and through native scrubland. As our trusty steads hauled us up some steep ridges we made our way to the winery - Bodega Bonfanti, a small family-run bodega. Leaving Cesar to secure our horses, we were greeted by the wife of owner Ricardo Bonfanit, who took us out to the vines to show where the wine really began and describe nature’s year-long cycle before moving
into the winery to see the wine making and ageing process. Then it was onto everyone’s favourite part – wine tasting! Bonfanti has a beautiful tasting room set right in the middle of the vines, and while enjoying the view we delighted in a light and fruity Malbec rosé, an intense Malbec full of black fruits and a spicy Cabernet Sauvignon rich with cassis. Finishing up these lovely wines, we jumped back on the horses and took a relaxed pace down a leafy narrow road before a bit more ‘offroading’ through the small foothills and ravines before heading back up to Cesar’s stables for a traditional asado. The fire was already lit as we settled into the rustic wooden dining room, poured a nice sizeable glass of wine and were brought an array of barbequed meats to go with salad and bread. Cesar entertained us with stories of how he crossed the Andes on horseback and we all happily chattered about the ride, Mendoza and more. After some fresh cherries and a bit more wine, our transfer to took us back to the city in the late afternoon. For more information on the tour or to reserve a day out visit www.troutandwine.com, Espejo 266, (261) 425 5613, firstname.lastname@example.org
A MEAL TO REMEMBER There are many great restaurants in Mendoza, but during these months many are full to the brim. So if you want to escape the crowds and enjoy an intimate night of food, wine and education – Finca Adalgisa’s cooking course is a good option. This boutique hotel is tucked away in an old vineyard in Chacras de Coria and boasts beautiful hotel rooms, a swimming pool, a small winery and a lovely glasshouse-style restaurant. Arriving as the sun was setting, we sat by the glowing BBQ with a glass of their homemade 22
Malbec as chef Cristina Brino explained our dinner for the evening: traditional Mendocinian labours, steak with chimichurri sauce and barbecued potatoes followed by caramelised fruits for dessert. Friendly and knowledgeable chef Cristina told us about the regional importance of empanadas and how they vary – the Mendocinian ones for example use a lot of onion (almost half onion and half meat). We made the soft dough and then the filling, frying off a couple of large onions over the fire, adding beautiful pieces of chopped steak and spicing it with cumin, chilli pepper, salt, black pepper and fresh oregano from their herb garden. We put the filling onto each pastry disk, along with a slice of boiled egg and an olive and worked on the art of empanada making (some were more artful than others!) Sliding the empanadas into the barbecue, we settled down to make the fresh chimichurri sauce which was based on the finca’s own olive oil, fresh herbs and spices. By this point we had quite an appetite. The warm, freshly baked empanadas went down a real treat. After putting the juicy Argentine steak and vegetables on the grill, Cristina started to prepare the fruit for dessert (a mixture of orange, pear and apple with lots of sugar to caramelise it). As she cooked our steaks perfectly to order, we relocated to the cosy restaurant. Here we were presented with an irresistible plate of steak, roasted potatoes and fresh chimichurri. After enjoying our hearty meal with more Malbec, we were brought a delicious dessert of caramelised fruit with ice cream and mint. This is an enjoyable, instructive and intimate evening with the added advantage that you can cook with none of the fuss of cleaning or laborious preparation. You learn all about Mendoza’s regional specialities whilst sitting back and relaxing as a perfect meal is prepared before your eyes. For more information visit www.fincaadalgisa.com.ar
OTHER THINGS TO DO IN MENDOZA TO ESCAPE THE HEAT RAFTING - If you want to cool down a bit in Mendoza’s cool mountain waters, there is no better way than to strap yourself to an inflatable and splash your way down class 4 river rapids that snake through the towering Andes. Contact Argentina Rafting on (261) 429 6325, www. argentinarafting.com SPA - Maybe you want to soak your aching bones after the busy celebrations? Try out South America’s first traditional Turkish Hamman at the luxurious Entre Cielos resort in Lujan (look out for our discount voucher on p 13). www.entrecielos.com, (261) 498 3377. For a more rustic approach, go up into the mountains for spectacular poolside views in Cacheuta at the Termas Hotel and Spa www. termascacheuta.com GRAPE PICKING AT ZUCCARDI - Get into the spirit of Vendimia and try your hand at grape picking. Spend a morning picking grapes at Familia Zuccardi and then sit back to a scrumptious lunch at one of Mendoza’s finest winery restaurants. Or if you are a real foodie, try their great cooking course whilst in the kitchen learning all the secrets of their top chefs. www.familiazuccardi.com
TheWineryGuide The Best Places to Visit
Overall Winery Experience
LUJAN DE CUYO Dominio del Plata Argentina´s most famous female winemaker Susana Balbo is creating some rich and complex wines in the heart of Agrelo. Try their Crios and Ben Marco. Cochabamba 7801 Agrelo. Tel. 498 9200 www.dominiodelplata.com.ar 40 min
Terrazas de los Andes The fine wine sister of Chandon Argentina is a beautifully restored bodega with well-appointed tasting room. Try the famous Cheval de los Andes. Thames and Cochamaba, Perdriel. Tel. 4880704/5 www.terrazasdelosandes.com 30 min
Tapiz Great wine lodge Club Tapiz, high-end restaurant Terruño and an instructive wine tour that includes an invigorating horse and carriage ride and a tank, barrel and bottle tasting. Ruta Provincial 15, Km 32, Agrelo. Tel. 4900202 www.tapiz.com 40 min
Norton Old-style cellars contrast with a high-tech production line. Tank and barrel tastings are conducted at this huge facility and the jug fillings on Thursday mornings are popular with the locals. R.P. 15, Km 23.5, Perdriel. Tel. 490 9700. www.norton.com.ar 30 min
Renacer This Chilean-owned winery creates the label Punto Final, one of Mendoza’s best value Malbecs. Small, modern operation with tour that includes a hands-on lesson in blending. Brandsen 1863. Tel. 5244416/17. www.bodegarenacer.com.ar 30 min
Ruca Malen Excellent food, great guiding and first-class wines. The pairings over lunch make for an unforgettable culinary experience. Generous tastings and gorgeous views of the vineyards and mountains. Ruta Nacional 7, Km 1059, Agrelo, Lújan de Cuyo. Tel. 562 8357. www.bodegarucamalen.com 30 min
Driving Time from Mendoza City
Decero FABRE MONTAMAYOU Attractive, modern facility with spectacular views of the mountains from the cozy tasting room. Bajo las Cumbres 9003, Agrelo. Tel. 524 4748 www.decero.com 40 min
Clos de Chacras Charming boutique operation. A five minute walk from Chacras plaza. Great Merlot and excellent lunches. Monte Libano s/n, Chacras de Coria. Tel. 496 1285. www.closdechacras.com.ar 20 min
Pulenta Estate Cool minimalist design and rich complex wines make this a winery with finesse and style. Convenient to visit on the way to Valle de Uco. Ruta 86, Km 6.5. Tel. 4200800 www. pulentaestate.com 40 min
Luigi Bosca Old, family owned operation with lots of heritage, handsome cellars and a tasting room. Large selection of wines from lowend to high-end blends. San Martin 2044, Mayor Drummond. Tel. 4981974 www. luigibosca.com.ar 15 min
Sottano This small, modern winery located in Agrelo is owned by three generations of winemakers. Big, concentrated reds are their speciality, including a top wine with the name Judas which you can taste whilst viewing vineyards and snowcapped mountains. Ruta 7 y Costa Flores S/N. Perdriel, Luján de Cuyo, Tel 153535506 www.bodegasottano.com 30 min
Carmelo Patti Mendoza’s most famous garagista. Carmelo Patti himself is often there to show you around (in Spanish). Try his famous Cabernet Sauvignon from the barrel. San Martin 2614. Tel 498 1379. 15 min
Lagarde Owner of the oldest white wine in South America. Try the hand- crafted sparkling wine made from 100 year old vines; best enjoyed in one of their many courtyards. Ave. San Martin 1745, Luján de Cuyo. Tel. 498 0011 Ext. 27. www.lagarde.com.ar 15 min
Kaiken This rustic 80 year-old winery houses a new venture by the prestigious Chilean winery Montes. There is nothing rustic about the wines however. They are big and powerful and destined to be famous. Here you can enjoy a terrific view, dynamic tours and a friendly guiding environment. Roque Saenz Peña 5516, Las Compuertas, Vistalba, Luján de Cuyo. email@example.com. Tel: 524 3160 www.kaikenwines.com 20 min
Vistalba Tasting room where one entire wall is a subterranean cross section of the actual vineyard clay, roots and rocks. Houses French restaurant La Bourgogne. Roque Saenz Peña 3135, Vistalba, Luján de Cuyo. Tel. 498 9400. www.carlospulentawines.com 20 min
Belasco de Baquedano Gleaming modern facility with fascinating aroma room and restaurant with Andean view. Cobos 8260. Tel. 153 023 491 www.belascomalbec.com 30 min
Piattelli Al lovely family owned winery done in a Tuscan style. Enjoy lunch on a deck beside a pond. Calle Cobos 13710, Luján de Cuyo. Tel 479 0123. www. piattellivineyards.com 30 min
Chandon The original foreign investor, French-owned Chandon has been making great sparkling wines in Mendoza since the 1960s. RP 15, Km 29, Agrelo. Tel. 490 9968. www.bodegaschandon.com.ar 30 min
Catena Zapata Showcase winery designed like a Mayan temple overlooking vineyards and the Andes Mountains. Rich, complex wines. Cobos s/n. Tel. 413 1100. www.catenawines.com 30 min
Achaval Ferrer Makes the highest scoring Argentine wine. Modern boutique close to Mendoza riverbed. Big concentrated wines. Calle Cobos 2601; Perdriel, Luján de Cuyo. Tel. 488 1131. www. achaval-ferrer.com 30 min
Melipal Great Malbec and gourmet lunches make Melipal one of the most exclusive wineries to visit. Ruta 7 km 1056, Agrelo. Tel. 524 8040.www.bodegamelipal.com.ar
Alta Vista Masterful mix of modern and traditional. Tasting includes distinctive Torrontes or single vineyard Malbecs. Álzaga 3972, Chacras de Coria, Luján de Cuyo. Tel 4964684 www.altavistawines.com 15 min
Mendel An old style winery ran by one of Argentina’s most famous winemaker dynasties the De La Motta family. Terrada 1863, Mayor Drummond. Tel. 5241621 www.mendel. com.ar 30 min
Bonfanti A lovely winery in a pastoral setting. It offers one of Mendoza’s most up close and personal tours with the owners themselves and a tasting room set amidst the vines. Terrada 2024. Tel. 488-0595. 20 min
Benegas Lynch Rich history and richer wines. Lovely old bodega with lots of character. Mendoza’s best Cabernet Franc. Ruta 60. Cruz de Piedra. Tel. 496 0794 www.bodegabenegas.com 20 min
Dolium A completely underground winery with innovative design and top notch Malbecs. Ruta Provincial 15, Km 30 s/n, Agrelo Tel: 4900190 www.dolium.com 30 min
Caelum This modern, medium size winery is located on the main road to Chile just before you reach the mountains. Argentine owned, it produces quality Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. Ruta Naciona 7 km 1060, Agrelo, Luján de Cuyo Tel. 156439564 www.bodegacaelum.com.ar 30 min
Dante Robino Founded in 1920, Dante Robino offers an atmospheric old-style winery with a modernist, light-filled tasting room with excellent view of the mountains and vineyards. The tasting includes sparkling wine from the tanks. Recommended: the Gran Dante Malbec. Callejón Maldonado 240, Perdriel, Luján de Cuyo. Mendoza. Tel. 4-887229 (extension #2).www. bodegadanterobino.com.
VALLE DE UCO
Salentein Designed like a temple to wine, this ultraconcept winery includes a modern art gallery, lodge, and chapel set high in the Andean valley. R.P 89 s/n, Tunuyan. Tel. (02622) 429500 www.killkasalentein.com 90 min
Tempus Alba A fine modern winery set in the rural lanes of southern Maipu. The rooftop terrace ovelooks the vineyard. Great Pleno label. Perito Moreno 572, Maipu. Tel. 481 3501. www.tempusalba.com 30 min
O. Fournier Most architecturally innovative winery with rich, concentrated wines. Excellent lunches in the modernist visitor center. Los Indios s/n, La Consulta, San Carlos. Tel. 02622/ 451088 www.ofournier.com 100 min
Lurton The wines are faultless and the location stunning. A French operation producing excellent Torrontes and Malbec. Ruta 94 km 21, Vista Flores, Tunuyán. Tel. 4411134 www.bodegalurton.com 100 min
La Azul Simple, small production winery with not so simple Malbecs. R.P 89 s/n. Agua Amarga. Tupungato. Tel. (02622) 422175 www. bodegalaazul.com
Familia Zuccardi A professional, far-sighted operation. The guides are always enthusiastic, knowledgable and eager to please. Attractive restaurant amidst the vines, famous for its asado-style lunches and generous wine pourings. Ruta Provincial 33, Km 7.5, Maipu Tel. 4410000 www.familiazuccardi.com 30 min
Finca La Celia One of the valley’s oldest wineries. They conduct excellent tours and tastings. Av. De Circunvalacion s/n, Eugenio Bustos, San Carlos. Tel (02622) 451010 www.fincalacelia. com.ar 90 min
Benvenuto de la Serna Charming, family-run operation making a very decent Sangiovese under the Mil Piedras label. Carril Los Sauces s/n, VistaFlores, Tunuyan. Tel. (02622) 4200782 www. benvenutodelaserna.com 90 min
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. Ruta 7. Lujan de Cuyo. Tel. 479 0130. www.vinacobos.com
Trapiche Argentina’s biggest winery is a mix of old and new, traditional and industrial. Mitre s/n. Coquimbito. Tel. 520 7666 www.trapiche. com.ar
Rutini / La Rural Well-stocked museum with invaluable antiques such as cowhide wine presses and buckets. Giant oak tanks stand in large, cavernous halls whilst side rooms hold Victorian era pumps and bottle corkers. Montecaseros 2625, Coquimbito, Maipu. Tel. 4972013 ext.125 www.bodegalarural.com.ar 20 min
Lopez Popular, old-style winery with two museums on the wine and history of Lopez and Argentina, close to Maipu plaza. A newly opened restaurant offers gourmet cuisine with a panoramic view. Ozamis 375, Gral Gutiérrez. Tel. (261) 497 2409 www.bodegaslopez.com.ar 20 min
Flichman Steeped in history and tradition. Charming, pink-hued, colonial-style bodega, set in the leafy vineyards of southern Maipu. Recommended is the top blend Dedicado. Munives 800, Barrancas, Maipú. Tel. 4972039 www.flichman.com 40 min
Altus A red barn-like winery which faces a lovely adobe-style restaurant doing excellent lunches. Las Vencedoras, Tupungato. Tel.155080261 www.altusdetupungato.com.ar 90 min
Andeluna The old-world style tasting room looks upon dramatic views of vineyards against mountains. Ruta Provincial 89, Km 11, Gualtallary, Tupungato. Tel. (02622) 4299299 ext 113 www.andeluna.com 90 min
Aconquija A down-to-earth, family-run affair with good wholesome Malbecs. España 1094, La Consulta, San Carlos. Tel. (02622) 4700379 www.aconquija.com 90 min
Familia Di Tommasso Officially the oldest winery in Mendoza and still run by Argentine hands. Their charming and rustic restaurant looks onto the vineyard, just two steps away. Urquiza 8136 - Russell. Tel 5878900 www.familiaditommaso.com 30 min
Carinae Small, charming, French-owned winery offering personal tours and well-honed wines. Surrounded by vineyards and olive trees. Videla Arande 2899, Cruz de Piedra, Maipú. Tel. 4990470 www.carinaevinos.com 30 min
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. 261-4295567. www.believeirishpub.com.ar
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. Compare the wine notes with one of their tasting flights or chose a glass from the impressive list of limited production wines. Chatting with their learned bartenders and sipping fabulous flavours on the patio under a canopy of vines makes for a truly enjoyable afternoon. Join their Acequia Wine Club to receive these exclusive Argentine wines. Espejo 567, Tel. 261 438-1031. Mon-Sat, 3pm–10pm www.vinesofmendoza.com
This restaurant-cum-gallery-cum-theatre located in the bohemian quarter hosts regular tango shows, live music and theatre every night (except Monday when it’s closed). With an intimate theatre and a large open bar space with a small stage and art works in the front, this is one of the most dedicated live music and performance bars in the city. Tajamar, 1921 Paseo Alameda. (261) 425 6165 www.tajamar.com.ar
This Argentine brewery makes some great artesanal brews. Their beers, Honey, Cream, Barely and Kolsh, sound more like swimsuit models than drink-list items and perhaps justly so, for these frothy sirens are blissfully designed and certainly something to drool over. Arístides Villanueva 153 Tel. 261-423-8327. Everyday 7pm-close.
Upcoming events Here are our top picks for events in Mendoza over February and March (aside from Vendimia!) Don’t forget to keep an eye on www.wine-republic.com/events or follow our facebook www.facebook.com/winerepublic for more events.
3 - 6 FEB.
Fiesta Nacional de la Tonada. A two week folkloric music festival with song writers and performers playing to an audience of 80,000 in the local amphitheatre in Tunuyan (80km south of Mendoza).
17th March. There are more
people than just paddies who like to celebrate St Patrick’s day, and Mendoza is no different. Down a few pints of Guinness and discover your inner Irishman (or woman) at the best Irish pub in town. Believe Irish Bar, Colon 241.
24 - 26 March.
A 580 km competition featuring 100 classic sports cars with stages through the mountains and between some of Mendoza’s top wineries. www.rallydelasbodegas.com.ar For more information on all of Mendoza’s best events visit www.wine-republic.com/events
EVERYTHING YOU EVER WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT OAK BUT WERE TOO AFRAID TO ASK French or Ame What’s the difference? The tannins in American oak are strong and aggressive. French is softer, more delicate, and more complex. How long does the wine stay in the barrel? Generally speaking, six months American, one year French. What does it do? Adds flavour and depth. Depending on toasting, oak gives wine a taste of fruit, spices, vanilla and chocolate. It also brings out more tannins. Toasting? The barrels are toasted with oak fuelled fire, to light, medium or crispy brown. How long does a barrel last? 3 to 4 years. How much does a French oak barrel cost? 800 euros. Only a small part of the oak tree can be used: just one fifth has the right quality for a barrel. The cutting is laser-guided to prevent waste. Don’t some wineries use simple planks placed in steel vats? Yes,
instead of putting the wine in the barrel, they put other “alternative oak products” in the wine. Isn’t that cheating? Once it was frowned upon (particularly on the Old Continent – as opposed to the New World). It is still prohibited in some parts of Europe but is now accepted practice internationally. Addins like boards, oak dust, dominoes and teabags of oak chips are a cheaper, alternative way of introducing oak to wine though they will never replace oak barrels completely - micro-oxygenation through the wood being almost impossible to replicate. I’m not convinced. Real cheating involves making barrels from French oak mixed with cheaper Eastern European oak, or reconditioned oak, gas fire toasting and artificial wood curing and drying. Is any other type of wood used in wine making? No, oak rules, although the Greeks are fond of a pine flavoured wine called Retsina.
dining out mendoza city Anna Bistro
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: $70 pesos
After a stint in Thailand, French-Argentinean owner Emmanuel Smith came to Mendoza with a handful of ingredients and some big ideas. His newly restored restaurant has a relaxed vibe, a beach in the garden and food that boasts the uncommon Argentinean adjective, healthy. The food is a Mendocinan´s version of Thai, not too spicy with tender meats. Special efforts are made to give patrons beautiful plate presentations using garnishes of complementary colours. I had the warm pork salad and the Masa Maan Nua which were unavoidably similar in flavour but both very tasty. For dessert the Crunchy Banana and Mascarpone are delicious! Their in-house sommelier can give you a great suggestion from the 50+ bottle wine list. Keep your eye open for live music and films at the weekends. Aristides Villanueva 785 Tel. 261-425 6762. Hours: Tuesday-Sunday, Bar 6.30pm-close, Kitchen 8.30pm-1am. Avg. Meal cost: $60 pesos
For an intimate, unusual and memorable evening - Ituzaingo is one of the city’s best kept secrets. A ‘closed doors’ restaurant located in 30
a historic house in the bohemian north of the city, Ituzaingo has been receiving rave reviews from locals, expats and travellers alike who relish in the warm atmosphere, good company and great food. Seating up to 20 people Gonzalo welcomes guests to his converted loft where Mendocinian chef Emiliano creates a six or eight-course menu (or a la carte) taking diners through regional specialities as Gonzalo introduces them to the wines, art, music and hospitality of Argentina. Ituzaingo, Tel: (261) 15 66 5778, firstname.lastname@example.org. ar. 6 courses $140. Advanced booking recommended.
El Palenque has a rustic charm to it - honest food, honest prices and a great atmosphere. Three friends opened the resto-bar seven years ago as a meeting place to enjoy a penguin of wine (an old-fashioned penguin shaped jug) and simple, homemade food. It serves its renowned empanadas, pizzas and lomos along with some heartier ‘gaucho’ style fare. Casually decorated with quirky pieces of furniture and pictures, the bustling, intimate restaurant is a great setting to enjoy real Argentine food and a good Malbec from their extensive list. Low key, cosy and fun – this place is clearly doing something right as it usually fills up by 10pm, prompting even the locals to come out early for a table. Aristides Villanueva 287. (261) 154 548 023. Mon 12pm - 2am, Tues - Sun midday - 2am. Avg. meal $50 pesos
Best friends Gustavo and Charlie have realized their dream of opening a restaurant together with this hip eatery on Aristides Villanueva.They pride themselves on being the only restaurant on Aristides Avenue with traditional Argentine bbq asado. Although this rustic style restaurant specializes in beef, its menu also includes salads, sandwiches,pizzas and a unique selection of papas fritas (French fries). Everything is freshly cooked so prepare to have a bit of patience. There is a good wine list and outdoor seating on the lively sidewalk. The lounge in the back is filled with antique furniture and perfect for chatting over a drink. The plates are big, the wait staff is friendly, and the location is central to the
best nightlife. *Look for their coupon inside the magazine! Aristides Villanueva 495. Tel: (261) 425 0420. Everyday, 11am - 3am. Avg. meal cost: $45 pesos
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 juicy watermelon, watercress, ginger, mint and corn salad as a saintly starter; or the indulgent mushrooms with cheese (proper parmesan), thyme and garlic croutons. There is a nice variety of mains – our favourite was the delicate white fish of the day with rocket, courgette and a hint of mint, citrus and pepper – elegant and succulent. 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. Everyday, 6pm - 12am (serves early dinner also). Avg meal $105.
Mendoza is steadily gaining a reputation for its olive oils and no other place embraces the diversity of this local product as much as Verolio. Located on Sarmiento street in the city centre, this chic little bistro/cafe offers guided premium olive oil tastings with homemade bread as well as courses on olive oil and gastronomy for those who really like their aceite de oliva. Open all day and evening you can come by anytime to enjoy breakfasts, pastries and cakes, mediterranean dishes of salads, tarts, tasting platters and, of course, a glass or two of wine. Sarmiento 720, Tues - Sun 11am - 12am. Tel (261) 425 5600. Av price: $50
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.
Four friends opened the restaurant a couple years ago as a place for people to enjoy the true spirit of Mendoza, beautiful artwork and the region’s typical cuisine with a few international elaborations. 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) 429 1057. Mon to Sat: 12.30pm - 3.30pm and 8.30pm close. Avg. meal cost: $45 pesos
Located in the elegant Park Hyatt Mendoza, Grill Q serves up traditional regional cuisine at a Five-Star level. Wood floors and cowhides combine with expansive windows and sky-lights to create a welcoming, modern atmosphere. The restaurant aims to provide visitors with an authentic Argentinian dining experience. Key features, include the original artworks of Mendocina painter, Laura Rudman, and a “parilla a la vista” grill that allows patrons to view the chef at work. They´re famous for their grilled meats and vast selection of regional wines. Other exceptional options include traditional favorites such as locro, a classic stew that hails from Argentina´s “Independence Days.” Personally, I would suggest coming with a friend and ordering the “Parilla for two” with a pairing of Trumpeter Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2008. Conclude your meal savoring a quince and cheese terrine, this establishment´s gourmet take on a unique regional desert. Chile 1124. Tel. (261) 441 1225. Wed - Sat 12:30pm 3:30pm, 8:30pm - 12am Sunday 12.30pm - 3.30pm. Sunday buffet lunch $105 . Avg. meal cost: $90 pesos.
Wine, olives and flavours: VOS’s name pretty much sums itself up. This vinoteca-cum-restaurant is ideal for wine drinking with a tasty bite on the side. The intimitely lit bar is tastefully decorated with brocade wallpaper, mismatched chairs and a quirky wine glass chandelier. The select menu features traditional Argentine dishes served with finesse. A picada of assorted flavoured cheeses is accompanied by an array of, sometimes unusual, Argentine delicacies: light and fluffy rabbit pate, juicy sundried tomatoes, marinated hare, delicious carpaccio of carpincho (the world’s largest rodent) and, of course, empanadas. Main meals include a great version of ‘carne a la masa’ with large, tender chunks of slowcooked beef swimming in juice and topped with a crispy pastry. Order wine by the glass or bottle, or join them for one of their nightly wine tastings at 7pm. If you fall in love with anything you eat or drink - you can buy it at the deli, vinoteca or they can keep you in supply by shipping the wine home for you. Aristides Villanueva 451. Tel: (261) 420 2020, www.vinosolivasysabores. com, Tues – Sun, 11am till late. Avg. meal cost $65.
This charming café, set in front of leafy Plaza Italia, offers more than just good coffee. With its funky regal design, it is rich in quirky art and a pleasing place to sit for a coffee, light lunch or cheeky glass of wine in the afternoon. Three sisters converted their 1920 family home into a friendly cafe and kitch Argentinian design shop where you can buy anything from artisan matès and jewellry, to art work, antique decanters and even designer marigolds! Regulars come for their tasty homemade tarts, pastries, Italian coffee, stash of glossy magazines and free WiFi. Find yourself a nook or cranny in one of the many rooms and enjoy their hearty parma ham, tomato and melted cheese sandwich with a glass of Malbec, followed by a cooling frappuccino and chocolate brownie (or a juice, salad and tea for those eating light). The courtyard is a perfect suntrap, while in the front you can sit back on the deck looking over the plaza. Opened in 2010, this unique, family-run addition is a real gem in Mendoza’s cafe scene. San Lorenzo 656, Tel: (261) 423 9677, Mon – Sat 8am – 9.30pm. Avg. meal cost $25.
outside city center Terruño-Club Tapiz Resort
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. Tel: (261) 496 0131. tapiz.com. Lunch, everyday, 12pm - 3pm. Dinner, Sun - Thurs, 8pm-11pm, Fri & Sat until 12am. Avg. meal cost: $140 pesos.
Casa de Campo
For rustic charm and traditional dishes visit Casa de Campo; A 15-minute taxi ride from Mendoza city center. Think welcoming casa with wooden beams, intimate tables and a small but lively verandah. Locals flock for the mouth-watering Argentine fare. Appetizers come in a taster’s collection of home-made goodies, from bread, prosciuttio and olive oil to sausage, pickled eggplant, cheeses and olives. Save some room for their clay oven specialties of succulent rabbit and suckling pig. “Grandma´s Menu,” the dish of the day, is made from in-season, locally grown produce. Complement this with a bottle from their extensive wine list and the result is a flavor combination of gourmet quality. A picturesque stroll to Rutini La Rural bodega, just ten minutes away, is a wonderful way to conclude the afternoon. Urquiza 1516, Coquimbito, Maipu. Tel: (261) 481 1605. casadecampomza.com. Everyday 12pm - 6pm.
Police, Fire Department and Emergency Medical Dial 911 Bus Terminal Tel: 431-3001 Av. de Acceso Este and Costanera. Bus Routes: Maipu, Linea 10 N° 171, 172, 173, Rioja street and Garibaldi. Chacras, N° 115 or 116, 25 de Mayo and Montevideo. Airport Tel: 5206000 Accesso Norte s/n. El Plumerillo. Shipping Wine Ordinary post will not ship wine and a courier can cost at least U$ 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 above) 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