The Tasting Panel magazine

April 2013

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PHOTO COURTESY OF BODGEAS WORLD TRAVELER Bodegas Escorihuela Gascón at night. Malbec . . . y Mucho Mas AN ARGENTINE FOOD AND WINE ADVENTURE A n "Experience Argentina" press trip to Mendoza, the country's wine capital, focused on producers Bodegas Escorihuela Gascón, Alamos and Catena Zapata and was a unique opportunity to delve into two distinct expressions of Argentine culture—food and wine. Our first dinner was two blocks from the Mendoza Park Hyatt at the serene Francesco Barbera Ristorante, named after the deceased husband of the octogenarian proprietor, Maria Teresa, whose recipes dominate the menu and who still works the kitchen on a regular basis. The next day brought us to Bodegas Escorihuela Gascón in Luján de Cuyo, founded in 1884 by Don Miguel Escorihuela Gascón. There we toured the complex Agrelo Vineyard, a 340acre expanse that holds at least five different soil types, with winemaker Ernesto "Nesti" Bajda and his crew. That evening we listened to live tango while watching professional dancers, then dined at Bodega Catena Zapata with Laura Catena; the daughter of Argentine wine pioneer Nicolas Catena, she splits time between Mendoza and San Francisco, where she is an emergency room physician. Tuesday dawned with a tour of the Uco Valley, 90 minutes from downtown Mendoza. We whistle-stopped Altamira Vineyard and then headed to Alamos Winery. After authen- by Ben Weinberg tic Argentine asado (barbecue) at La Juntada Pulpería, we hit Bodegas Escorihuela, this time in the city proper. We finished with an al fresco dinner at the winery's Restaurant 1884. On Wednesday we toured Alamos's Adrianna Vineyard in Tupungato, northernmost of three Uco Valley counties, where vineyards are quite elevated. There the Alamos winemaker, Felipe Stahlschmidt, showed how this plot is influenced by a vertically tiered desert climate, intense sunlight, poor, rocky soils and pure Andean snowmelt. A culinary class with Chef Lucas Bustos at La Tupina Bistro, his restaurant in Tupungato, then preceded another asado at the home of Laura's brother, Ernesto Catena. The next day we boarded a flight for Buenos Aires, checked into the Palacio Duhau-Park Hyatt, and immediately headed off for lunch at Tarquino Nueva Cocina, a modern take on traditional Argentine cuisine. We then toured Buenos Aires, including the Teatro Colón Opera House, the Tortoni Café, and the Malba Museum. Dinner was at swanky Casa Cruz. Friday began at the above-ground crypts of La Recoleta Cemetery. Then came an Argentine pastry overview with Park Hyatt Executive Chef Maximo Lopez. A multicourse, riverside lunch at Cabanas Las Lilas was the last event of this amazing odyssey. Ben Weinberg's Top Wine Picks RED Don Miguel Gascón 2011Colosal Red Blend, Mendoza ($13) Don Miguel Gascón 2010 Malbec Reserva, Mendoza ($19) Bodegas Catena Zapata 2008 Nicolas Catena Zapata, Mendoza ($95) Alamos 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, Mendoza ($9) Tikal 2011 Malbec, Mendoza ($20) Gascón 2009 Sangiovese, Mendoza (N/A) Bodegas Escorihuela Gascón 2005 President's Blend, Mendoza (N/A) 1 12  /  the tasting panel  /  april 2013 WHITE Alamos 2012 Torrontés, Mendoza ($10) Bodegas Catena Zapata 2009 White Bones Chardonnay, Adrianna Vineyard, Mendoza ($135) Bodegas Catena Zapata 2011 D. V. Catena Chardonnay, Mendoza (N/A) Bodegas Catena Zapata 2010 Angélica Zapata Chardonnay, Mendoza (N/A) Look for the extended version of this story at

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