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An Insider's Guide to the Uco Valley

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While the Uco Valley has traditionally harbored small family-run winemaking projects, it has blossomed in the past decade, with numerous bodegas and restaurants opening their doors.

If you’re staying at The Vines of Mendoza, lunch at Francis Mallmann’s Siete Fuegos with its incredible, time-lapse appearing vista of the Andean foothills is unbeatable (as is the salt-crusted salmon paired with Recuerdo Torrontés). Other fantastic restaurants offering up lovely lunches within a 40-minute drive from The Vines include La Azul, Piedra Infinita and DiamAndes.

Dine al fresco at family-run La Azul in Tupungato, under the weeping willow or on the patio decked out with charming bunting. Dealing in hearty Argentine fare, dishes include succulent empanadas, delicious asado and braised pork shoulder, and some of the friendliest service in the valley.

Over in Paraje Altamira, chef Matías Aldasoro is doing a sterling job focusing on regional ingredients at Zuccardi Valle de Uco’s Piedra Infinita restaurant. Dishes on the four-step paired menu might include free-range chicken from Vista Flores, quince vinaigrette sourced from Altamira with tender greens and radish salad, or baked quinces also from Altamira, chocolate mousse with goat’ milk mascarpone and almonds from Tunuyán. Book in for a late lunch, first working up an appetite on a winery tour.

And in Vista Flores, the kitchen at DiamAndes is helmed by Gastón Priori. A new offering to the region, the Wine Lounge offers up the finest charcuterie as well as regional specialties accompanied by fantastic views across the French-owned winery’s 130 hectares of malbec, cabernet franc, chardonnay and viognier.

Other tables worth booking include Epic at Auberge du Vin, Tupungato Divino and Monteviejo winery, led by Nadia Harón.

Thinking ahead to 2019? Rumor has it that Buenos Aires chef Germán Martitegui of Tegui – ranked among the World’s 50 Best Restaurants – will pop up in the valley once again at SuperUco winery… watch this space.

As for wine tastings, there’s a multitude of offerings across the valley. Once you’ve sampled some wares with The Vines’ own sommelier Mariana Onofri, head over to the Winemakers’ Village. This exclusive set-up includes an array of projects to suit all palates. The Michelini brothers – usually found at Passionate Wine, Zorzal and Gen de Alma wineries – have joined forces to create SuperUco, a tiny biodynamic bodega, seeking the greatest expression of the terroir possible.

Across the stony path, you can find two of The Vines’ original vineyard owners who have now branched out to build their own physical wineries. Dr. Madaiah Revana’s Corazón del Sol project has a special place for the classic Rhône GSM (Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre), one of the first such blends in Argentina, while Terry and Noel Neelands’ Solo Contigo has already picked up a cluster of awards for its Malbec. Sample their wares in their private home, a privileged tasting salon indeed.

As for watering holes in Uco Valley, head to Matías Michelini’s new wine bar Bar Sette in Tupungato. Located within the grounds of his Passionate Wine bodega, in the shadow of an enormous artwork painted on the side of the winery, enjoy something tasty by the glass such as Livverá’s Malvasía 2017 or his very own Agua de Roca Sauvignon Blanc. Sette opened in March 2018 and is a new landmark for the Uco map.

The aforementioned Tupungato Divino restaurant, with its view of the eponymous (extinct) volcano, also has an interesting wine list that only includes vintages from all corners of the valley. Get stuck into the Masi Corbec (corvina and malbec blend), a sauvignon blanc from Sophenia or Pinot Noir from Jean Bousquet.

Need to freshen up your palate? Stop by The Vines’ bar for a custom-made gin and tonic to get you back on tasting form.

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