Drink List: Mendoza, Argentina : New Worlder

From Lavalle in the north to San Rafael in the south, it can be difficult to choose which of the dozens of wineries in Mendoza are worth the visit. From garagistes, or winemakers making limited production wines, to the most lavish of no-expense-spared cellar doors, rest assured there’s a tasting room for you in Argentina’s principal wine-making region, as well as a couple of worthwhile pubs. And, look beyond malbec: Reds such as cabernets sauvignon and franc, bonarda and grenache are making waves as are styles such as biodynamic and natural wines, but wave the white flag to give chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, sémillon and fiano a whirl, too. If you’re looking for some eats to pair with all this drinking, check out our accompanying Eat List: Mendoza, which covers all the best spots in and around the city.

Downtown Mendoza

Hangar 52

You’re in Argentina’s key wine country so what better than… a pint of craft beer to refresh the palate? A cool warehouse-style pub, Hangar 52 is a bustling spot on the party street of Aristides in downtown Mendoza. With some 25 beers on tap sourced from around Argentina, in-house brewer Arturo Verna Martins takes care of a number of internal affairs. A preferred pub for winemakers in need of a break from the grapes. Open daily. Facebook Page

Uvas

Enough of the controversial beer suggestions, and back to Mendoza’s heart and soul: wine. One of the city’s best-stocked cellars is housed in the swanky Park Hyatt Hotel on Plaza Independencia. Tucked away in the middle of the hotel, so non-guests might never discover it, Uvas focuses on boutique labels, and has more than 100 on the list. Keep it light with a glass or up the ante with a malbec flight. Daily from 11am. mendoza.parkhyatt.com.

Godoy Cruz 

CARO

A joint collaboration between two legendary winemaking families, Mendoza’s Catenas and Bordeaux’s Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite) join forces at CARO. Each brings their most emblematic grape – malbec and cabernet sauvignon, respectively – to the table. Producing just three lines, take an evening tour of the magical 19th-century barrel room before tasting Aruma, Petit CARO and CARO (300 pesos); larger wallets should opt for the four-wine CARO vertical tasting (2,000 pesos). Reservations: hospitality@bodegascaro.com.ar. Monday to Friday: 10pm, 12.30pm, 4pm, 8pm. lafite.com.

Escorihuela Gascón

As good fortune would have it, Escorihuela Gascón is CARO’s neighbor, so group these two wineries together when crawling through the region. Founded in 1884, history abounds as this is Mendoza’s oldest still-functioning bodega. For a high-range tasting, try Pequeñas Producciones (400 pesos); this line runs the gamut from 100 percent pinot noir rosé extra brut to chardonnay and (lesser known in Argentina) barbera. Groups of eight+ should give an evening tasting a whirl. Reservations: turismo@escorihuela.com.ar. Tour and tasting: Monday to Friday 10am, 12pm, 3pm, 4pm, from 300 pesos. escorihuelagascon.com

Luján de Cuyo 

Carmelo Patti

Even if Spanish is beyond you, wine’s the common language when visiting Carmelo Patti near Charcas de Coria in Luján de Cuyo. One of Mendoza’s most emblematic garagiste winemakers, charming Carmelo worked for an array of larger bodegas before setting out on his own in the 1980s, purchasing grapes, and turning them into wine in his shed. The space might be rustic, but his fascinating Bordeaux-style blends certainly aren’t. Free. San Martín 2614, Luján de Cuyo

Matías Riccitelli Wines

One of Argentina’s hot young winemaking faces, Matías Riccitelli started out at prestigious Fabre Montmayou before embarking on a personal project based in Las Compuertas. He produces the emblematic República del Malbec (fun fact: sipped by Will Smith in Focus (2015)) and The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far From The Tree line, which includes pinot gris, sauvignon blanc and bonarda. Ask about his Patagonian old vines line, comprising incredible sémillon and merlot varieties sourced from Río Negro province. Reservations: veronica@matiasriccitelli.com. Monday-Friday 9.30am, 11am, 3pm, 4.30pm. matiasriccitelli.com.

Alpamanta

For an introduction to organic and biodynamic wines, check out Alpamanta’s approachable project in Ugarteche. Here, the biodynamic calendar and how it plays into winemaking comes to life with llamas wandering the farm to help set the mood. Star Italian winemaker Giuseppe Franceschini oversees matters here; try the cabernet franc and chardonnay as well as the malbec, best teamed with a lunchtime picnic. Reservations with 48 hours’ notice: turismo@alpamanta.com. alpamanta.com.

De Angeles Viña 1924

Off the main drag in Vistalba, you’ll find one of Mendoza’s prettiest fincas, dotted with olive and cherry trees. This glorious setting is home to De Angeles Viña 1924, whose vines were planted almost a century ago. Owner Guillermo Barbier will guide you around the compact bodega’s small-production malbec and cabernet sauvignon gems; with luck, winemaker Juan Manuel González aka El Pelado (the bald guy) will also be on site. Monday to Friday 9am-5pm, weekends tastings at 11am only. US$30. malbecdeangeles.com.

Viña Cobos

This Argentine-U.S. collaboration features important Napa winemaker Paul Hobbs, and effortlessly produces some of Mendoza’s most desirable vintages. This minimalist cellar door ensures the focus is strictly on the wine. Oenophiles on a budget should sample entry-level Felino (chardonnay, malbec), while the eponymous single vineyard line focusing on malbec, cabernet sauvignon (Hobbs’ area of expertise) and a blend of both is for serious drinkers with serious budgets. Reservations: hospitality@vinacobos.com. Monday to Friday 9.30am, 11am, 12.30pm, 3pm; Saturdays: 9.30am, 11am, 12.30pm. vinacobos.com.

Bodega Renacer

A 2017 Mendoza wine tourism award winner for innovation, Renacer keeps enotourism fun. Site tours are accompanied by virtual reality specs, so even if vintage is done and dusted, you can still catch a slice of the harvest action. Other cool activities include bottling straight from the tank and sampling the Punto Final line. Take home the Renacer cabernet franc. Reservations: turismo@bodegarenacer.com.ar. Monday to Saturday 9.30am to 5.30pm. bodegarenacer.com.ar.

Maipú 

Bodegas López 

One of Mendoza’s longest-standing bodegas, located in the traditional wine-making district of Maipú, López is one of very few 19th-century wineries that remains in the founding family’s hands, who are inherently proud of their history. Tour the vast site that houses enormous French oak casks that age nothing less than 59,600 liters of wine in one hit. The champañeria (sparkling winery) and bodega tours are free and tastings start at 250 pesos. Blending sessions are a fun optional extra. Tours in English: Monday to Friday 11.30am, 3.30pm; Saturdays 11.30am. bodegaslopez.com.ar.

Casa El Enemigo Vigil

One of the newer cellars on the circuit, Catena Zapata’s winemaking kingpin Alejandro Vigil opened his home and private vineyards to wine fans. The result is Casa El Enemigo Vigil, named for his collaboration with Adrianna Catena. The chardonnay is splendid, but there’s double single-vineyard trouble with El Enemigo cabernet franc; two killer wines sourced from Agrelo and Gualtallary that are incredibly hard to choose from (though this writer adores the former). Reservations: reservas@casaelenemigo.com. Open daily. enemigowines.com.

Uco Valley

SuperUco

Biodynamic, sibling-run, and located in the trendy Los Chacayes district, SuperUco holds plenty of aces. Owned by the Michelini family, producer of various projects including Gen de Alma, Passionate Wines and Zorzal, SuperUco is a collaboration between siblings Gerardo, Gabriel, Matías, and Juan Pablo, and this small site gives them a chance to showcase their skin-fermented torrontés to their high-acidity, high-altitude sauvignon blanc as well as the family blend, SuperUco. Reservations: superucoturismo@gmail.com. superucowines.com.

Zuccardi Valle de Uco

Mendoza’s most ambitious opening in quite some years, Familia Zuccardi transferred operations to Paraje Altamira in Uco Valley in 2016 (the original Maipú-based winery is now dedicated to Santa Julia’s wares.) Home to a research center as well as a classy restaurant, Piedra Infinita, the rocky bodega’s nickname, is where third-generation winemaker and agronomist Sebastián Zuccardi weaves his terroir magic. Sample the Q line in the cellar or upgrade to Iconos that includes Aluvional, five single vineyard malbecs. For a breathtaking view of the Andes, enjoy the paired lunch. Reservations: reservas@piedrainfinita.com. Wednesday to Saturday 10.30am, 12.30pm in English, 4pm. www.familiazuccardi.com.

Finca Blousson 

A small project producing just four wines from their own grapes, vintner Patrick Blousson and Victoria Jones host wine lovers at their home, winery and two-roomed B&B in full sight of the snow-capped Andean foothills. Petit Blousson is a fun, bonarda-malbec blend, flavors abound with De La Luna but Del Sol is the most serious of the lot, so intense that you won’t know whether to polish it off in the moment or keep it for another 10 years. Check out the tiny winery, home to a cluster of concrete eggs used for fermenting juice. Reservations: +54 (9) 261 655-3382.  www.fincablousson.com.