For our honeymoon, my husband and I jam packed our trip to Argentina. In a little less than two weeks, we visited four cities, stayed in six different accommodations (from hotel to hostel to tent!) and logged 4,550 miles on planes, buses and by foot. By the time we got to Mendoza, the last portion of our trip, we were ready for some relaxation, showers every day and wine. Lots of wine!
Read on for Grid Walking’s Top 3 Mendoza Bodegas. In a hurry? Scroll to the bottom for Quick Links.
Mendoza is the center of the Argentinian wine industry producing two-thirds of the county’s wine and is recognized globally as one of the eight Great Wine Capitals. Although this part of the country is an extremely dry desert region, Mendoza has developed extensive irrigation channels controlling the amount of water flow from the Mendoza River; allowing for an impressive amount of greenery and vineyards throughout Mendoza. Using this unique irrigation, grape growers are able to regulate the watering of their vines. This control matched with the climates hot days and cool nights creates near perfect conditions for the grape variety of Malbec. And it seems the secret is out; talent and investment money from all over Europe have been part of the recent development and success of the Mendoza Wine Region.
We visited six bodegas over two days focusing on the regions of Luján de Cuyo and the Uco Valley. Our bodega visits were pre-booked, which I suggest you do as well. As my husband and I are only wine enthusiasts, our favorites were based on overall experience (Read: no tasting notes here!). And without further ado, Grid Walking’s Top 3 Mendoza Bodegas!
- Bodega Achaval Ferrer – Like many bodegas, Achaval Ferrer is relatively new, with its first harvest in 1999, and has European influence being Argentinian and Italian owned. It was intimate with an energetic atmosphere and far from corporate (a positive for us!). Our tour included tastings from the barrels in their cellars, a first for me and my husband, which we really enjoyed. The wines, produced in small batches, were a bit pricey but we picked up a bottle of 2012 Finca Altamira for ARS$700 anyway – around $70US with our Blue Market exchange rate, check out Grid Walking’s post for more info. The tasting visits were ARS$100 per person; a standard tasting fee for the area. We sat outside, enjoyed the beautiful weather and had a great time.
- Bodega La Azul – Founded in 2003, La Azul is a small, unassuming bodega. We went for a wine tasting only, based on the suggestion from our driver, but I wish we had stayed for lunch. The outside, open air restaurant was serving rustic, home-cooked food fresh from clay ovens, and based on reviews I’ve read since, DELICIOUS! The bodega has only four wines; Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon and blends of these two varietals. The production may be small but these wines are beautifully crafted; we took a bottle of the Azul Gran Reserve home with us as the wines are sold in-country only. If you were looking for a unique, laid-back (hipster, perhaps?) vibe in Mendoza wine country this would probably be your best bet.
- Bodega Salentein – This bodega was on our must visit list from the very beginning. Inside, and out, the building is centered on art. You will see sculptures as you approach the entrance and inside you can visit the bodega’s museum – Killka Gallery. The architecture of the building is as intriguing as the art hanging on its walls. Salentein is strict with their tour times and scheduling; if an English speaking tour guide is necessary, request the correct time slot. We missed our arranged tour, but somehow our driver was able negotiate a tour for just the two of us with a private tasting in one of the banquet rooms. It was pretty spectacular. The bodega has roots from the 17th century and definitely is an institution in the industry but they have managed to maintain an intriguing atmosphere without the stuffiness of some other vineyards.
Grid Walking Tip: If you have not decided on a place to stay in Mendoza, check out Casa Lila Bed & Breakfast. The location was walking distance to wherever we wanted to go within Mendoza City and the B&B is secluded and absolutely beautiful. Mariela and Pablo are the most gracious of hosts and have given every detail great thought. They have loads of knowledge and recommendations for food and bodegas; if I remember correctly, Mariela was previously employed at Selentein. Pictures of the vineyards we visited and of Casa Lila are up on Facebook.