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Mendoza: Argentina's Wine Country

Photo by Michael Reiss

If wine is your passion, you’ve already got Mendoza on your “bottle list”. The city itself revolves around Independence Square with its impressive fountains and sprawling park surrounded by bodegas and bottle shops galore. But venture out to the vineyards--in close proximity--for a true taste of the wine country.

Photo by Michael Reiss

We went to the nearby city of Lujan de Cuyo in Argentina and settled into the luxury digs of Entre Cielos, surrounded by their own vineyards still worked by horse and plow to produce their estate wines.

Photo by Michael Reiss

The spacious accommodations in the main building afford easy access to their outdoor pool and hot tub, dining area and award winning Hamam and Spa.

Photo by Michael Reiss

The individual, private lofts are nestled in the middle of the vines with bird’s eye views of the estate and surrounding Andes Mountains.

Photo by Michael Reiss

Whichever you choose, you will be intrigued by the architecturally significant design details reminiscent of the style of Le Corbusier. No doubt that this is part of the allure of this member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World.

Although the expansive layout of the accommodations offers discretion and privacy for its guests, the opportunity to exchange conversation with an international clientele is an enticing benefit for travelers wishing to swap stories and make connections.

Photo by Michael Reiss

A gourmet breakfast with a variety of locally sourced products and home baked goods, along with freshly squeezed juices and sparkling wine makes for a hearty start to a full schedule of winery visits for the ambitious oenophile.

However, stay long enough to utilize the professionally designed parcours circuit set in nature, relax poolside and indulge in a private Hamam experience.

Photo by Michael Reiss

We selected the “Six Part Classic Hamam Circuit” that includes increasing degrees of temperature and humidity to allow for natural exfoliation and maximum relaxation. What an ideal way to jump start a vacation.

Dinner at Katharina Bistro is a treat. The menu changes seasonally and highlights the abundant variety of ingredients in the region. The presentations are creative and the portions are generous. The skill of the chef and kitchen staff is evident in the taste and service.We particularly noted the home-made pastas and the expertly executed beef and lamb preparations that guests found to be exceptional.

Photo by Michael Reiss

Touring the wineries of Mendoza is an oenophile’s dream. The best way to enjoy the fruits of their vines is over a leisurely lunch at their top restaurants. Among the choices for the discerning visitor is Lagarde Bodega, established in 1897. Recognized as one of the oldest vineyards in the area, it offers several varietals besides it’s Malbec including Viognier, Chardonnay and Rose.

Photo by Michael Reiss

Although the dining room at their restaurant, Fogon is warm and inviting, the real magic occurs in the garden.

Dining under the shade of mature trees surrounded by vineyards and the Andes in the distance is a distinct pleasure for all of the senses. There are several menu choices each accompanied by a suggested wine pairing but they encourage you to try your own matches and you have unlimited samplings of all the wines on offer. The gastronomy is based on traditional recipes and of Michelin quality.

Photo by Michael Reiss

Most of the ingredients come from their own organic gardens and are fused into enticing dishes that utilize various fire cooking techniques. The result is a rustic medley of flavors that enhance and compliment the wines.

Photo by Michael Reiss

Among the highlights were an eggplant, pear flower and paleggio starter, a local sea bass with kale, mushrooms and nuts and of course, an impeccably prepared filet of beef. Yes, they have a lively tasting room, but when at Lagarde, treat yourself to lunch among the vines.

Photo by Michael Reiss

An equally compelling second choice for the discerning culinary traveler is lunch at Ruca Malen.

Photo by Michael Reiss

Here, dining in the enclosed patio surrounded by vineyards and mountains sets the stage for an award-winning multicourse lunch with wines. The cuisine takes its roots from the soil of its ancestors and the seasonal garden.  The dishes reflect a modern sensibility and flair. Each course is a work of art for the eyes and palate.

Photo by Michael Reiss

We selected one regular and one vegetarian menu to sample the breadth of their offerings.

Photo by Michael Reiss

From the sweet corn humita similar to a tamale, to the smoked trout with oak paired with the oaked chardonnay, to the beef filet paired with two signature estate Malbecs, this was a tour de force of culinary mastery.

Whatever amount of time you spend in Mendoza, you are sure to regret leaving and vow to return to a part of the world that honors wine, gastronomy and the time to enjoy it.

Diane Sukiennik & Michael Reiss

Diane Sukiennik is an internationally recognized writer, coach, keynote speaker, consultant, educator and licensed therapist. She is the author of The Career Fitness Program: Exercising Your Options, 11th edition, Prentice Hall, the most widely used text in colleges and universities in the subject area. A self-proclaimed 'leisurologist,' she speaks French and Spanish, is an avid world traveler and...(Read More)

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