Journalist and newly minted sommelier Sorrel Moseley-Williams gives us her guide to the historical wineries of Mendoza, Argentina.
While Argentina is considered a new kid on the wine-making block thanks to the Malbec boom of the past 20 years, in fact vitiviniculture is very much part of the country’s 205-year heritage. Various bodegas were founded in the 19th century – and are still going strong. If you’re visiting prime wine country Mendoza, located at the foot of the Andes, drop by one of these old-school wineries for lunch or a tasting.
Founded by Spanish immigrants in 1897, Lagarde remains a family-run winery and is managed by the third generation of the current owners, sisters Lucila and Sofía Pescarmona. Step back in time at the Luján de Cuyo bodega, home to centenarian Malbec vines, and dine at Entre Fuegos, Lagarde’s restaurant set in the impeccable 19th century manor house and its ample courtyard decorated with antique wine-making tools of the trade. If your budget doesn’t extend to the eclectic paired tasting menu, enjoy a classic wine flight of Altas Cumbres or Lagarde Malbecs.
Construction lovers should make a beeline for Trapiche (pictured), which, despite being a grand dame aged 132, was recently named the Best of Architecture and Landscape winery across all the great wine capitals. Making wine since 1883 and picking up recognition from Paris in 1889, Trapiche was originally based in Godoy Cruz, just south of Mendoza city, but moved east to Maipú in 1912. Business boomed so considerably at that time that Trapiche even built its own railway line to ship wine to Buenos Aires; the dilapidated rails still exist. Take a tasting tour led by award-winning oenologist Daniel Pi at the restored, Florentine-style winery, a vast, red-brick edifice that houses tank and barrels overlooking olive groves and biodynamic vines.
Producing wine in enormous wooden casks since 1898, Bodegas López is one of just two Argentine bodegas to retain such a tradition (the other is Bodega Weinert). This working winery in Maipú is a great lesson in oenological history, and includes a fascinating tour of the museum, the cellar stocked with vintages dating back to 1938 and the modern champagnerie. Those after more detailed visits can sign up for an express sommelier or a wine-blending session. The modern, colonial-style visitors’ centre also houses a fabulous restaurant, Rincón de López, that’s worth booking into for lunch for its juicy rib-eye. Tip: when visiting the sparkling wine plant, keep an eye out for dozens of street art murals depicting Mendoza and its wine industry.
Bodega Luigi Bosca
Founded in 1901 by Spanish immigrant Leoncio Arizu, Bodega Luigi Bosca is one of Argentina’s most renowned wineries and also remains a family enterprise, run by the third and fourth generation. Producing one of just six Argentine DOCs (denomination of origin) with its eponymous Malbec as well as other varietals and blends, the pristine vines and gardens at the emblematic, colonial-style winery are the perfect place to sample some wares. A tour includes a visit to the enormous tank and barrel rooms, and a chance to look at Vía Crucis del Vino, a 14-in-one work created by Mendoza artist Hugo Leytes, whose images depict milestones in the lives of those immigrants who founded Argentina’s wine industry. Oenophiles should undertake a tasting led by Gustavo Arizu at the stunning Finca El Paraíso. Besides producing wine, Luigi Bosca also has an top-notch olive oil line.
Bodega Navarro Correas
When he planted some vines at the foot of the Andes in 1800 – 10 years before Argentina gained independence from Spain – little did Don Juan de Díos Correas imagine that a winery would carry his surname two centuries later. Although the intervening years saw the family sell their precious grapes and wines to other producers before business fizzled out, it wasn’t until 2002 when descendent Edmundo Navarro Correas put matters right to set up a winery. Although the Godoy Cruz-based bodega is as minimalist and modern as it gets, there is plenty of family history to transport you back to the 19th century, as well as a fascinating art collection.