Malbec & beyond: a roundup of Mendoza’s best wines and wineries

Mendoza is the land of malbec. Lying on the foothills of the Andes mountains and blessed with privileged conditions of altitude, weather (dry and very sunny) and soil, this province of the Cuyo region is one of the great wine capitals in the world. With more than 1200 wineries, Mendoza provides nearly 70% of Argentina’s total wine production. While malbec is the flagship wine varietal in the region ―and Argentina is the largest malbec producer in the world― there are also other grapes in the scene like cabernet sauvignon, syrah, merlot, chardonnay and bonarda.

From traditional award-winning wineries to the small boutique wineries, there’s a lot to explore in this Argentine wine hub, that allures travelers from all around the world with its irresistible combination of winery tours, top-notch lodging, a broad offer of outdoor adventures and the highest Andean peaks as a stunning backdrop.

Most vineyards require pre-booking, specially if you are having lunch there too, so be sure to plan your itinerary with a little time ahead. Besides, keep in mind the distances: while you can bike to some places close to Mendoza capital city, for more distant spots it may be useful to book a tour or hire a driver. Only a few minutes away from Mendoza city, Maipu concentrates some of the oldest and most traditional wineries. A little further, Lujan de Cuyo ―known as the cradle of malbec― offers a combination of classic wineries with the most modern wine technology. Finally, almost 62 miles / 100 kilometers to the south of Mendoza city lies Uco Valley, a fast-growing region of high-altitude vineyards which is making some serious buzz in the international scene.

Heading to Argentina soon? Check out our tours and make sure you include a few days in Mendoza for a taste of some of the best wines in South America. Meanwhile, you can start delighting your palate with these guide of our favorite wines and wineries.

Lujan de Cuyo Credits: ANDY ABIR ALAN

 

Credits: Jorge Gobbi

FAMILIA ZUCCARDI

Familia Zuccardi  is a traditional family winery running since 1963, with five vineyards in Mendoza. Its founder, the engineer Alberto Zuccardi, developed a sustainable irrigation system that is now used by many wineries. They are considered one of the most innovative and experimental wineries in Argentina. More than 30% of their wines have been already certified as organic.

Interesting activities await visitors, like tasting courses, cooking and harvesting. You can also join a biking & tasting tour across the Maipu vineyards or a drive on a vintage car. Finally, you can have an Argentinian asado along with the best wine of the house at their restaurant called ‘Casa del visitante’.

 

Recommended wine: Zuccardi serie A Malbec. A classic malbec from Uco Valley, with an intense purple red color and the aroma of ripe fruits.

Image by: Jornada Online

CATENA ZAPATA

You’ll be surprised by this impressive Mayan-pyramid-shape building, boasting a breathtaking view of the Andes. Founded in 1902,  four-generation winery Catena Zapata was a  pioneer in discovering and analysing the potential of Mendoza’s high-altitude terroirs and cooler weather. Now the place is run by Nicolas Zapata ―one of the most important names in the wine industry in Argentina―and his daughter Laura, who also created an Institute of Wine, to study terrains and grapes from a scientifically approach.

 

Recommended wine: Adrianne Vineyards Mundus Bacillus Terrae Malbec, a very limited selection of malbec with grapes carefully selected from its high-altitude terroir (Adrianne vineyards) and with a gentle aroma of flowers.

Credits: Wikipedia

NORTON

With a tradition of 120 years, Norton is among the main in Argentina and one of the first to export their high-quality wines to the world. They have a beautiful wine-bar with a terrace and a garden to enjoy a premium lunch. Among the attractions for visitors, they offer photographic-safaris around their vineyards, taking a cooking class, enjoying a gourmet-picnic with a view of the Andes or become an oenologist for one day and create your own blend.

 

Recommended wine: Norton Malbec D.O.C. A fresh red wine with notes of fruits, of an intense violet and red color.

BODEGA BIANCHI

Located at 124 miles / 200 kilometers to the south of Mendoza city, in San Rafael, Bodega Bianchi is traditional family winery and is one of the strong names in the Argentina wine-making scene. In 2014, their malbec was awarded as the world’s best red wine in the Vinalies Internationale Wine Competition in France.

You can visit the winery without making any reservations. Other activities like wine tasting, visiting the vineyards and enjoying an individual wine tasting session do require prior reservations.

 

Recommended wine: Bianchi Famiglia, their elegant awarded-malbec has an intense and persistent taste.

Credits: NMS_FW

TRAPICHE

An authentic mix of traditional and modern, this fully-restored 1912 building is an iconic piece of wine architecture in Mendoza. Also among the pioneers, Trapiche introduced French oak barrels and the use of stainless steel tanks. Biodinamic practices (like avoiding chemicals and herbicides, and using the cycles of the moon to harvest) are now key in their production.

Trapiche is Argentina’s largest wine exporter, with a solid prestige around the world. They offer wine tasting tours were you can also learn about the history of the winery, and a 3-hour introduction course to the wine world for the most curious.

Recommended wine: Malbec Terroir Series finca Orellana de Escobar. This malbec of an intense red color with aromas of cherries and currants was awarded as the best malbec in Argentina in 2010.

Marina Parra

Marina is a journalist, content writer, mountain lover and amateur photographer living in Buenos Aires. She’s traveled in Argentina and South America enjoying great conversations, local cuisine and breathtaking natural wonders.