Food and Wine: Mendoza
As the capital of the countries wine growing, this is a Mecca for gastronomes the world over...
Probably the first stop for any self-respecting foodie, Mendoza and the valleys that surround it are the home to some of the best wines in the world. Featuring some of the main wine growers from Europe, this was the first area in Argentina to truly be developed and, today, is very much up there on the world stage. A few days wandering through the vines and sampling the wine and tasting menus is a wonderful experience for both connoisseurs and novices alike.
There are a number of reasons why Mendoza and the region has become the centre of the wine growing district in Argentina and is now putting out some fantastic wines...
The first of these is the fact that it is a desert town. Due to its location at the edge of the Andes, the region is consistently fed by a warm breeze that starts on the Pacific, losing its vapour on the Chilean side of the range, before continuing over to Argentina. This allows the wine growers of Mendoza to carefully moderate the exact amount of water each of the vines receives through a clever and highly regulated means of irrigation.
Originally, back in the 1500s, the wine growing process was started by monks that arrived in Mendoza alongside the Spanish, bringing with them lesser-known grapes and vines, such as the Torrontes and the Malbec. As the area began to improve and the wine matured the government of Mendoza realized its potential for wine and invited many of the major growing families of Europe to bring across vines and work the land.
Today, many of these original families remain in the rolling valleys that surround the city and the wine has been improving year on year with many of the wines now receiving global recognition.
The grape varietal that made both Mendoza and Argentina famous is undoubtedly the Malbec. But as their processes have improved and their vines have gotten more mature, many of the vineyards are now producing more sophisticated wines using, among others, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and a very good Pinot Noir.
For accommodation, it is possible to look at staying out amongst the vines themselves or you can look at the small village on the outskirts of Mendoza, Chacras, which offers a bit more action, but still a relatively quiet feel. Or you can opt for the city itself and all that this modern and vibrant city has to offer.