Hey, hey! How’s it going, wine lovers? Nicky here, still in Mendoza mode, reporting from the Argentine winter. I look up at the snow-capped mountains and it feels like a dream. From Central Park straight to the Andes. What an amazing plot twist.
This is my place in the world. Everything revolves around wine: the bars, the restaurants, the fairs, the events, even friends! Well, mine at least… hahaha!
After visiting a few wineries in the city on my own, my friend Juli called me: “Nicky, we’re going to visit some wineries in Maipú this weekend”. I started googling immediately. Maipú is known as the birthplace of wine in Argentina because it’s where the first producers set up shop back in the 19th century.
A trip to the wineries in Maipú
Today, some of the most important wineries in the country are still in the region, making it an essential stop for its historical value alone. The best part is that it’s only 15 minutes from Mendoza and there’s even a dedicated bicycle lane for wine tours!
Juli and Tomás came to pick me up at the hotel. On the way, we shared cakes (which were heavenly) and they drank mate, which I think I should maybe give another chance. Or perhaps I’d better stick to wine!
The first stop on our tour of the wineries in Maipú was Bodega López, one of the biggest and most important in the country. Founded in 1898, they were genuine pioneers.
I was immediately struck by the winery’s size and beauty; an enormous complex with a lovely facade surrounded by the gardens full of colorful flowers. But that was nothing: the best part is inside.
On our tour, we learned about the different production departments and the aging hall which is full of giant barrels where the wine gets itself ready to drink.
There was also an amazing museum – a real introduction to the place and its family – and the restaurant “Rincón de López”, where you can eat local cuisine paired with glasses and bottles from the house, all in a welcoming, relaxed environment. And the view is incredible! Perfect for Instagram.
Of course, we ended the visit with a tasting and I took notes to help me recommend the Bodega López wines you don’t want to miss out on. Here, their motto during the aging process is: “We’ll take care of the time and patience.”
We tasted old vintages of their Montchenot, a Bordelais style wine with a Rioja character, which is really unique. We even decided to buy bottles from the year we were born from their range of historic vintages.
The second stop on our tour of the wineries in Maipú was Finca Flichman, a pioneer of the Barrancas region.
Founded in 1910 by Samuel Flichman, in recent years the hundred-year-old building has been expanded and restored to welcome visitors.
The tour was a pleasure. It wasn’t just about what you can see, all the senses came into play: the aromas, touch, and sounds. The mixture of fruit and wood is there in every step. It’s a sensory feast.
On our visit, we were also able to see some of the iconic vineyards, which have interesting differences compared to elsewhere in Mendoza, and they told us a lot about Syrah, a variety Flichman loved and was apparently determined to introduce to Argentina in the mid-20th century.
However, Finca Flichman has much more to offer than Syrah in its lines Caballero de la Cepa, Misterio abd Dedicado, which are all very successful in the world’s leading markets. Of course, we tasted them, some of which are made with grapes from Maipú while others come from their vineyard in the Uco Valley.
One highlight was the historic cellar where they keep bottles dating back to 1954 which can be tasted or bought but they say that they’re getting quite exclusive: there aren’t many left. Something else to put on my wish list.
Ver Sacrum / La Cayetana
The last stop on our tour of the wineries in Maipú, for now, was the La Cayetana vineyard, a lovely colonial style estate full of rustic gardens. It’s a small paradise where nature takes center stage.
The winery was built in 1865 and was refurbished by the present owners, Eduardo and Emilia. Together they created two separate winemaking projects: Ver Sacrum and La Cayetana.
Ver Sacrum began in 2011, when Eduardo and two friends teamed up to make unconventional wines. It was an innovative concept that has produced a bunch of treats for curious drinkers. Some of their success is down to millenials’ interest in new flavors.
In contrast, La Cayetana was founded by Emilia. Her wines are made using ancient techniques and the existing varieties at the vineyard.
In addition to tasting them for yourself, at La Cayetana you can view paintings by Gonzalo Antón, a Mendozan artist who paints and exhibits at the vineyard.
Is there more? Of course there is. Their restaurant invites you to sample traditional flavors on its six-course menu which includes eight wines and dishes made with vegetables from the garden.
Of the Ver Sacrum wines, I’d especially recommend the Garnacha, which has set the bar for the variety in Argentina, but also Doña Mencía de los Andes, the only Argentine wine made with the Galician grape.
So that was my first experience of the wineries of Maipú, which was filled with flavor, nature and history. There’s so much to see that I know I’ll be back soon.
Here’s a tip: a good option is to take a train and then rent a bicycle, or to go on one of the many available tours.