The 7 most beautiful wineries in Mendoza

Beauty. Eye of the beholder and all that. And in terms of bodegas, the spectrum’s got it covered,ツfrom big and buxom toツpetit and bijou.ツAs it turns out, I’ve been to a few in my time: here are sevenツof the most beautiful wineries in Mendoza that I love and you can visit, in no particular order.ツ

1. Zuccardi Valle de Uco

One thousand trucks overflowing with alluvial rock cleared the way for the Zuccardi family to plant in Paraje Altamira, Uco Valley. And much of these leftovers went into constructing their majesticツsecond bodega, spearheaded by third-generation agronomist Sebastiテ。n, which opened March 2016. The jagged roof replicates the nearby Andes precordillera lower mountain range, the shining dome is in factツa vast circular tasting room and the cellar houses more than 240 custom-made concrete amphorae each storingツbetween 2,000 and 10,000 litres of youthful wines. Piedra Infinita, as it’s known, was designed by architectsツFernando Raganato, Tom Hughes and Eugenia Mora. This is Uco Valley’s most ambitious and epic winery project to date. Enjoy the ridiculously good-looking panorama over a paired lunch tasting menu.

Take home: Zuccardi AluvionalツAltamira Malbec 2013.

Sebastiaフ] Zuccardi at Bodega Zuccardi Valle de Uco.
Sebastiaフ] Zuccardi at Bodega Zuccardi Valle de Uco.

2. Los Toneles

Venue for the after-party following the Best Sommelier of the World Contest 2016, which saw 600 somms raving till dawn next to wine ageing in stainless steel tanks (I was there, and there was raving a-plenty), Los Tonelesツis still fresh faced despite almost clocking up triple figures. Belle テゥpoque reigns here (Trapiche’s architectureツis another great example of this architectural style) and Los Toneles was given cultural heritage status eight years ago. A great place to see top technology blending with venerable bricks and mortar. Book in for lunch.

Take home: Tonel 46 Sauvignon Blanc 2015.

That's 600 somms raving in a winery.
Los Toneles: not usually adorned with disco balls.

3. Finca Blousson

Pat and Vicky run the tiniest of spaces that hasツthe biggest of hearts 窶 and the grandestツof Andes views. Finca Blousson’s tiny facilityツholds around no more than a dozen 225-litre barrels, walls chalked with oenological instructions. Three-quartersツofツhalf-a-dozen cement eggs nest outside the winery, silently bearing the chillyツnights and steamy days.ツDespite small beginnings, there have been enormous recognitions: James Suckling recentlyツgave them 96 points forツFinca Blousson del Sol 2014 and 95 forツFinca Blousson de la Luna 2014. Matテュas Michelini *might* be involved in the making of these wines. Book in for a hearty lunch or use it as a great Uco Valley base and stay at the two-room B&B.

Take home: The third member ofツthe family, Petit Blousson Malbec/Bonarda 2014.

Finca Blousson, Uco Valley.
Three-quartersツof half-a-dozen at Finca Blousson, Uco Valley.

4. O.Fournier

Bang!ツThis place is ready to explode. And it’s certainly the only bodega in Mendoza that could be confused withツa nuclear trigger. Owned by Spanish investment broker turned winemaker Juan Manuel Ortega, you can spot O.Fournierツa mile off as you drive down Calle Los Indios in San Carlos. Take the tour; the cross-shaped cellarツroom is extremely impressive, with art exhibits updated throughout the year. Equally impressive is Urban restaurant’s tasting menu and incredible view across the reservoir and mountains.

Take home: Urban Uco Tempranillo 2013.

Explosive stuff at O.Fournier.
Explosive stuff at O.Fournier.

5. SuperUco

Another mini project, small and perfectly formed with a large conscience. SuperUco, aツbiodynamic winery jointly runツby the Michelini clanツin all their numbers, is one of a cluster of bodegasツat The Vines of Mendoza’s Winemakers’ Village. Architect papテ。 Rufino Michelini constructed the hexagonal bodega that nests close to Ruta 92, and siblings Matテュas, Gerardo, Juampi, Gabriel, plus other halves Cecilia, Andrea and various kids planted gobelet-trained Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc on individual canes here around the winery in a circular form. Book in for lunch: goodies come straight from the biodynamic vegetable garden.

Take home: The eponymous SuperUco Gualtallary Malbec/Cabernet Franc 2011 blend, of course.

Small and perfectly formed: The Michelini clan's SuperUco.
Small and perfectly formed: The Michelini clan’s SuperUco.

6. Catena Zapata

It’s entirely possible that Dr. Nicolテ。s Catena might have had a run-in with a bottle of Xtabentテコn as well asツa Mayan spirit given Mexico’s architectural influence at Catena Zapata. And if that actually happened, then we’re all much better off for it. Catena Zapata is one of Mendoza’s most emblematic bodegas, given its curious yet breathtaking pyramid that houses an epic cellar room and wonderful Dalek-esque watch tower for a 360ツコ vistaツof Agrelo. And as it’s one of the best-known names outside of Argentina too, sampling some CZ magic on CZ terroirツis pretty flippingツdreamy.

Take home: White Stones Adrianna VineyardツChardonnay 2011.

No shamans were involved in the construction of this winery.
No shamans were involved in the construction of this winery.

7. Salentein

Aesthetes will adore Killka, the contemporary art gallery that houses a Rogelio Polesello installation, at the front of this Tupungato winery but the best is yet to come. Walk through the vines (Pinot Noir if I’m not mistaken) to Salentein’sツmain bodega; look down into the the circular barrel roomツat the stunning compass rose. The cellar has two functions: care giver to wine and concert hall venue. Usually a grand piano dominates its surroundings; here it fades into insignificance until someone starts tinkling the ivories andツmarvellous acoustics kick into action. Your seat is next to the French oak barrels.

Take home: The total bargain Portillo Sauvignon Blanc 2015.

Salenwine, Salentime, Salentein.
Salenwine, Salentime, Salentein.

Ph: Sorrel Moseley-Williams

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