A Weekend Guide to Mendoza
Good Vibrations: Malbec & Gregorian Chants
It’s morning: Grab a coffee, then head south of the city of Mendoza to Kaiken, in the nearby Luján de Cuyo region. You’ll be met at the gate of this biodynamic winery by a gaggle of sheep, chickens and geese—all part of the winery’s bucolic charm. In the cellar, try the velvety 2013 Mai Malbec to the sound of Gregorian chants. Winemaker Rogelio Rabino believes their vibrations help to facilitate fermentation, and they certainly add to the atmosphere. kaikenwines.com.
A Taste of Italy
At the tiny, family-owned Caelum, Italian winemaker Giuseppe Franceschini has branched out from Malbec into varieties originating from his home country. Try the elegant, hazelnutty 2014 Caelum Fiano Reserva (a grape originally from Italy’s Campania region) while snacking on some actual nuts: pistachios grown right on the estate. bodegacaelum.com.ar.
Time for Lunch
Susana Balbo is known as Argentina’s Queen of Wine: She brought the floral white Torrontés variety to worldwide fame during a time when there weren’t many women making wine in Mendoza. Stop at her eponymous winery for lunch at Osadía de Crear, where her new Malbec-and-Pinot-based Signature Rosé del Valle de Uco complements ultrafresh local trout with a cabbage-and-fennel emulsion. susanabalbowines.com.ar.
Head over to Cruzat, where winemaker Pedro Rosell makes remarkable high-end sparkling wines with grapes harvested more than 3,000 feet up in the Andes. His newly launched Millésime 2006 is intense and complex, and can go head to head with top French Champagnes. It’s pricey by Argentinean standards—about $60 per bottle—but a steal given its quality. bodegacruzat.com.
Room with a View
Predinner, return to your villa at Cavas Wine Lodge. Walk out onto your private rooftop terrace, where you can sip a glass of 19 Escalones Sauvignon Blanc while taking in postcard-perfect views of snow-dusted Andean peaks. And be sure to book a soak in the spa’s Bonarda Wine Bath, a blend of the red grape’s extracts and essential oils; it’s intended to help the circulatory system, and is also exceptionally relaxing. Doubles from $700 per night; cavaswinelodge.com.
The Fire Dome
On the terrace of star chef Francis Mallmann’s landmark restaurant 1884 stands his impressive new “fire dome”: an intricate construction of metal rods that suspend whole lambs and dangling vegetables over live coals. The vast wine list includes rarities like the smoky El Enemigo Cabernet Franc—perfect with Mallmann’s succulent grilled meats. 1884restaurante.com.ar.
The World's Most Famous Winemaker
Back in 1999, French superstar wine consultant Michel Rolland, whose clients include Bordeaux’s Château Ausone and Napa Valley’s Harlan Estate, founded Clos de los Siete with six friends. It’s now one of the world’s most technologically advanced wineries, home to five individual producers and 2,100 acres of vineyards. Make sure to try an older vintage of Rolland’s raspberry-scented Clos de los Siete red. closdelossiete.com.
An architectural stunner, O. Fournier looks like a temple to an ancient god, perhaps if it had been designed for James Bond. Tour the winery and taste its first sparkling wine, the delicate, green-appley NV Alfa Crux. Then sit down to lunch in the glass-walled restaurant, Urban, where the twice-cooked oxtail with bone marrow tempura goes brilliantly with the winery’s intense 2011 Alfa Crux Malbec. ofournier.com.
Horseback Tour Through the Vines
Casa de Uco is Mendoza’s latest luxury wine resort, with 790 acres stretching toward the Andes. After checking into your room set amid the vineyards, take a horseback tour through the nature reserve and stop at the tasting room for a glass of the 2014 Casa de Uco Single Vineyard Malbec. It’s made with grapes you can pluck off the vine on the way back to your room. (We won’t tell a soul.) Doubles from $400 per night; casadeucoresort.com.