The Argentinians take their meat seriously; so too their wine. Given that Mendoza is the gastronomic and wine capital of the country, my expectations were high. My Mendoza holiday did not disappoint.
Flying into Mendoza, I was immediately struck by the views – from the lines of grape-covered vines, the tall swaying poplar trees to protect the vines, to the stunning back drop of the snow-capped Andes. Mendoza is located on the border between Argentina and Chile, at the base of the highest mountain in the Americas, Aconcagua at an altitude of 6,962m
With over three hundred days of sunshine, it is ideal for visitors – so too the terroir – and wine tourism is on a roll. Mendoza now boasts almost a thousand wineries. The experience is more than just sampling the wines. You can picnic among the vineyards, you can cycle between them or you can even fly over them in a hot air balloon.
There is a wealth of new accommodation from rustic lodges to high concept places like The Vines, one of my favourites. Here I loved the winery, which produces over 200 different bottled varieties, and the restaurant Siete Fuegos, or ‘seven fires’, with food inspired by the chef Francis Mallmann. The open-flame cooking techniques, inspired by Argentine gauchos, were enthralling and the rustic, fiery flavours of the nine hour slow-grilled rib eye were outstanding.
My last night at The Vines began by the pool, sipping a glass of Malbec watching the sun dip behind the golden Andes. It was a night that got better and better and, uncharacteristically, I did not make it up first thing the next morning to go horse riding in the Andes and watch the sunrise. I am now a devotee to Dionysus and an advocate of Epicurean travel.