You can’t go to Argentina for the first time without taking in Buenos Aires, so that’s where Eric and Lee started. They spent five days enjoying the restaurants and food markets, visiting cathedrals and museums, the plazas and the port, and Recoleta Cemetery, where Eva Duarte de Peron is buried.
But Buenos Aires was just the preliminary to the main attraction: the wine country of Mendoza, about a one-hour flight west of Buenos Aires. The Mendoza region is one of three wine-producing regions in Argentina, and it accounts for about 90 percent of the wines made in the country.
“They are doing really exciting things, putting a lot of time and money into research and development and keeping their industry on the cutting edge,” Eric notes.
Making their home base at an apartment in the city of Mendoza, the couple hired a driver cum wine guide and made day trips to the surrounding countryside, sometimes seeing up to four wineries a day. “We would do one or two serious tastings a day—longer, in-depth
visits where we went out to the vineyard and learned about the terroir,” Eric says. “We’d combine that with one or two where we’d just belly up to the bar for a tasting.”
Mendoza wineries are known primarily for their Malbecs, a red wine made from a black grape that originated in the Bordeaux region of France. They also make Cabernets and a dry white wine called Torrontés.
On most days the Millers had lunch at a winery, and on one day they opted to experience a traditional Argentine asado, a lengthy, multi-course barbecue featuring beef of all types—everything from sausages and organ meats to the most select cuts. “It’s a whole afternoon event, lasting from maybe noon to 7 p.m. It’s something to do once, but once is enough,” Eric says.
During their six days in the Mendoza area, the Millers visited 10 wineries and interspersed those visits with tours of the countryside and the city of Mendoza. They also tasted many other wines at restaurants and wine bars. Among the wineries they recommend: Clos de los Siete, a group of seven wineries under the direction of famed winemaker Michel Rolland; Zuccardi, which has an “amazing” restaurant; the small winery CarinaE; and Catena Zapata.
“The Catena Zapata winery is probably one of the main reasons Argentine wine is getting chic,” Eric says. “Before they began exporting, most people didn’t realize the quality of the wines being produced in Mendoza.”