Friday, June 13, 2008

Mendoza, Argentina Field Notes

Wine lovers visiting Mendoza leave with a new appreciation for Malbec. This grape came to Argentina from Bordeaux, where it is cultivated for blending. In the Mendoza wine province, at the base of the Andes, the growing season is much longer than in Bordeaux region of France. The soil is still rich after 150 years hosting these grapes and Malbec is cultivated by many vineyards as a single-grape wine.

The result is that Malbec from Argentina is a sweeter, softer bodied wine which ages better than French Malbec. Mendoza’s extra sunshine contributes to these improved characteristics by allowing more time on the vine - even after the sugar levels peak. Most of Argentina’s top wines come from Mendoza where amazing Malbecs are priced around $12-$15. Pair these with local dishes such as Patagonian grass-fed beef, goat, local trout, or young pork slow cooked outdoors.

My favorite downtown restaurant/wine bar was Bistro M at the Park Hyatt Hotel. Downtown you’ll find many excellent bistros filled with students from every continent staying in Mendoza to study Spanish at the language school COINED.

For dining at a winery, 1884 is also very good and the bar is as gorgeous as the Portenos who come to Mendoza just to dine with Francis Mallman. Find it at Bodega Escorihuela, There are too many vineyards to mention here, but I work with a very knowledgeable local guide who can show you the best of the “Ruta de los Vinos”. Another guide prefers adventure in the picturesque Andes Mountains, which is a good antidote to sulfite overload. Exploring on your own is not too difficult with modest Spanish fluency.

I recommend staying at La Posada Robles de Besares, a beautiful private home in a peaceful setting at Chacras de Coria, in the heart of Mendoza. The wine cellar is excellent for relaxing in the evening. Breakfast is served in a charming garden. There are tennis courts, a gym and Jacuzzi. Reiki treatments are also available onsite. For details visit

The local Syrah’s are also very good, as are whites from many provinces in Argentina, but I’ll save these for another post.

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