Wine was first introduced to the American continent by the Spanish conquistadors and missionaries. In the 19th century, aristocrat Argentineans brought from France accomplished enologists and cuttings of the best European grape vines, marking the beginning of our national wine industry. Today, Argentina’s wine has achieved a strong market position and has also created an impact on the world wine market. Argentinean wines today can be seen all over the world.
Mendoza produces 70% of the national production. Its privileged location, soil and microclimate makes combines the perfect equation for such a complex wine making process with a magical and delicious result: the best wine. The combination of high altitude and pure air makes for particularly intense sunlight and, therefore strong photosynthetic ripening in Mendoza’s vineyards. Warm daytime temperatures also help with ripening, but thanks to the cool nights of the high altitude setting, the grapes retain sufficient acidity to be balanced and purer.
Mendoza produces Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Barbera, Riesling, Chenin, Ugli Blanc, and Semillon among many, in its over 1220 vineyards with an annual production of over 10.000.000 of hectoliters of wine that has conquered the world market and many wards and medals in USA, France, Spain, Portugal and Turkey.
However, the clearest example of connection and synergy between the grape and the soil and the one that has made Mendoza being the best producer in the world is the Malbec. The origin of this grape is in France, where the grape has been declining for more than a century. There, it is sensitive to an array of maladies that affect the grape, including colure, frost damaged, downy mildew and bunch rot.
Malbec made the trip to South America when modern vineyards were established there in the mid 19th century and found its true home in the front range of the Andes in Mendoza. Here, growing conditions are almost perfectly suited to Malbec’s needs, forgiving its vulnerabilities and enhancing its strengths. The best vineyards are situated at altitudes between 2000 and 3500 feet above sea level. The Andes block Pacific storms as week as the smog that often affiliates Santiago on the Chilean side of the peaks.
The weather-related problems that Malbec suffered in France were overcame in Mendoza, due to the moderate climate, where frost is not a problem. Although the area is relatively dry (It almost never rains) the water is abundant in rivers and come to the vineyards in a net of irrigation canals that are available everywhere.
As a result, Malbec wines are big, rich and deeply flavored, yet rounded and luxurious in texture. Their softness permits early enjoyment, but they also age well. They go well with read meat dishes, generally speaking. The route of the wine is classified as followed:
The city of Godoy Cruz and Guaymallen Guaymallén. This tour features two century-old vineyards: Bodegas y Viñedos Santa Ana, with a farmhouse built in the late 1800's and Escorihuela Vineyard, famous not just for its wines but also because of the scholarships they grant to art students from Mendoza.
For lunch tome, we stop at Finca Familia Zuccardi for an exquisite lunch. The Zuccardi family, have been living in Mendoza since the late 19th century. They first initiated in an irrigation company, which specialized in irrigation techniques for the grape and soft fruit industries in the region of Mendoza. In 1963, as a way of demonstrating the effectiveness of his pre-fabricated concrete and of his irrigation systems, they purchased the site of what is now the family’s Maipu vineyard. They are also famous for being one of the initiator in organic making.
In the heart of Gutierrez, Maipu Department, Bodegas Lopez is presented as one of most traditional Argentinean vineyards. In this circuit, the tour includes a visit to the National Wine Museum and Giol House Wine with an important exhibition of wine making process and machinery. The visit includes La Rural vineyard and Trapiche, surprisingly one of the largest wine producers of Argentina and a grand finale with wine tasting at Viña El Cerno hosted by its owners.
About 20 miles form the city; we would find this region with rich soils on the slopes of the Mendoza River and valley. We will visit Finca Flichman, on an old Huarpe (local native culture) settlement with a old chapel honoring Our Lady of Rosario, the oldest chapel in Mendoza built over two hundred years ago and decorated by the natives when they were taught about religion and art from the new world. Our tour includes Casa de Piedra, with a Mediterranean architecture house ranch.
In the higher valley of the Mendoza River, famous for the excellent quality of the wine making producers, we find several internationally -awarded vineyards. Bodegas Etchart, owned by a French group, Bodegas Chandon, famous for the champagne production, and lastly, from an Italian immigrant, Dolium, with an underground cave for wine aging and gourmet wine productions. A bit further down the road, with the most astonishing sights of the Andes Mountains, we find Bodega Norton, where we stop for a wine tasting. Next, Cabrini, a family owned vineyard that is famous for its production for wine used for blessing and mass. Finally for today, Viniterra with a great gift shop to purchase their wine and wine accessories.
Lujan de Cuyo is also part of the greater Mendoza, only a few minutes away from the city and host of the national patron of the vineyards and everyone involved in the wine making process. We shall visit Bodega Lagarde, famous for of its exclusive production limited to the connoisseurs and elaborating exclusive wines for over a century now. Next, the Museum of Arts Emiliano Guiñazu, where the famous Mendozino artist Fernando Fader used to live. Surrounded by farms, we will find Bodegas Alfredo Catena, famous for its highest standards of quality. Finally we shall visit Viña Amalia with new ownership and recently refurbished. The Sanctuary of La Virgen de la Carrodilla is a must seen, where every vintage, thousands of people come asking for the blessing before harvesting season.