Overall, I don’t feel the same passion for Mendoza that I feel for Napa Valley, Bordeaux, or even South Africa’s wine region. Still, I love drinking a good malbec, so I will most likely return.
I’ve been dreaming of visiting Mendoza since I had my first Malbec, probably 15 years ago. The timing just never worked out on previous trips to Argentina (although I always returned with more bottles than I should have). For my birthday, Brandon made arrangements for us to visit.
To be totally candid, it wasn’t what I’d expected. Mendoza is a real city, and there are vineyards literally off the interstate. It’s not picturesque, like a lot of the other wineries I’ve visited around the world. However Mendoza grew on me. It has some charms, especially if you leave the central area and explore some of the ancillary wine regions. Lujan de Cuyo is beautiful (Archaval-Ferrer has some great wines). I also enjoyed Bodega Bressia, and we had a fantastic lunch at Bodega Lagarde. The standout there (other than the wine, which they kept pouring) was the tomato done three ways, including a tomato basil ice cream. As I’ve come to expect in Argentina, the steak was also flavorful and perfectly cooked.
We discovered Don Mario, a local restaurant with some of the best steak and wine pairings in the area. The culinary highlight of our Mendoza trip was my birthday dinner the last night, at legendary 1884 Francis Mallman. Mailman believes in cooking outdoors over an open flame, and I am now a believer. We had the best octopus I’ve ever had. The gazpacho, steak, and gnocchi were all incredible. I would go back to Mendoza just to eat there again.