Hard to believe but our journey that started late last month in Uruguay is about to end. What a day to end our visit! We start at the most famous Argentine winery, Catena Zapata. Nicolas was the one who started the rise of the wine industry with ideas and techniques that others thought were crazy. After a tour of the Mayan inspired winery, we had a tasting of their Alta line: Chardonnay 2008 sourced from the Uco valley with minerality and concentrated flavors in a California style. Next we had the Alta Cab 2007, redolent of coffee aromas and spice which hints that the grapes came from Lujan. The malbec 2007 came from 80 year old vines from 4 different vineyards from Uco and Lujan so you have a wonderful blend of the flowery and mineral notes of Uco and the fruit of Lujan. We finished with Angelica Zapata 2006, a wine not currently in the US. It has softer tannins with most of the grapes from the Adriana Vineyards, their oldest vineyard at a high altitude.
We had lunch at Cavas Wine Lodge, a member of Relais and Chateaux. This a again hard to find but what a class operation. The service was impeccable and Nicolas Catena was having lunch in the other room. We were given a choice of courses and I had the empanadas, local trout (which was pink and soft like salmon) and passion ice cream, accompanied by the estate bonarda. They only produce 3,000 bottles which are only available at the Lodge.
Our final visit was Belasco de Baquedano, owned by Spaniards from Navarra. An impressive operation, most notably their aroma room with over 50 smell aromas, positive and negative associated with wine.
At our farewell reception at the hotel, after some more food and wine (everyone gains weight on our tours), we ended with a blind tasting, the first time we tried this. We asked the sommelier to select 3 malbecs and we had to guess which was the least expensive, middle and most expensive. Only two people got it right, and they were husband and wife.
Tomorrow we return home having witnessed the tremendous gains in quality in Uruguay and Argentina.
My highlights? the visit to Pisano Day 2 in Uruguay and the visit to O.Fournier, but there are so many more that I have never seen. We have to come back!