Mendoza – Argentina!

Robin Boyle Barbecue, Latin America, Travel, Wine

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This post follows on from: Chile – Atacama!

Possibly no other city is as closely associated with a grape variety as Mendoza: it is the world capital of wines made from the Malbec grape. While plantings of the variety diminished in France, they burgeoned in western Argentina to the point that the Malbecs of Mendoza have a cult following.

The Mendoza grape-growing region can be seen from the Google satellite map below (click to enlarge). To the west is the Pacific Ocean, along the length of Chile. To reach Argentina you need to cross the Andes ranges. In doing so there are clear changes in topography, climate and soil. Not surprisingly, Argentinean wines are distinctly different from those made in Chile.

Mendoza, Salta and other towns in north-western Argentina have a distinct Spanish touch that is both elegant and rustic.

We were taken on a tour of the Mendoza wine region, and the wineries we visited were sophisticated and dedicated, with little hint of mass tourism.

Where there is wine, there is food, so there are many restaurants to choose from. Barbecue restaurants are common, of course.

Many upmarket restaurants take their wines very seriously.

One of our dreams was to visit Francis Mallmann’s restaurant, 1884. He has several restaurant interests but perhaps his most acclaimed is his Mendoza restaurant. It is located in an old winery, dating from 1884! Then, the building would probably have been located in the middle of vines way out in the countryside; today it is in suburbia and the high, solid walls of the main winery building create a remarkable restaurant space.

Inside, long banquettes and high chairs dominate.

Outside there is an elegant courtyard with the main barbecuing area in one corner, and you can pop out to see what is cooking.

It was one of the best dining experiences of our lives!

For the sixteen of us, it was also the last night together on our four-week trip around South America.

Elsewhere in this blog we have given a number of recipes and methods used by Mallmann. Check them out here:

Chimichurri

Burnt Vegetables 1

Burnt Vegetables 2