Saturday, January 19, 2008
This week, we made the trek down to the Uco Valley about an hour and half south of Mendoza to visit the the bodegas of Salentein and O Fournier.
Both were designed by the same architect and are a tribute to the fine art of modern winemaking. The first up on our trip was Bodegas Salentein. (I'll blog about O Fournier later. )
Salentein is situated at the foothills to the Andes and is on route 89 near the town of Tupungato. It is a long hike from Mendoza especially given the fact that there are hundreds of other bodegas within a short taxi ride from downtown. The hike is well worth it. Though not for the winery tour.
Salentein is large and their operations on the bodega include Killka—a fabulous modern art museum and large restaurant, Posada Salentein—an estancia/inn, and a small chapel. Oh yes, and the winery.
When we showed up, we had to pass through the art museum to check in. Although we were the only visitors and there were several employees, the only ones willing to speak to us were the imposing security guards that looked more like they were ready for the next military junta than security detail at a winery.
When one of the Salentein soldiers... I mean guards finally showed us where to go, we started our tour with a young twenty something guide who schpeeled the corporate line with about as much enthusiasm as a Koala bear on qualudes.
Salentein has some great premium malbecs and even some great low end malbecs. But were we offered any of the good stuff to sample? No. They pushed on us an O.K. Sauvignon Blanc and a miserable 2007 Merlot.
Our boring tour guide could of won an Oscar for the convincing lines he spewed about how great the Merlot was. We drove all this way to sample some of the best Malbecs from Argentina and were offered this crap?
The wine tour was a let down given our friends from The Vines claimed, "at this cross shaped monument to winemaking, guides conduct dramatic tastings from behind an impressive marble alter."
There was nothing dramatic about it.
Don't get me wrong. As cold and sterile as the place is and as bad as the wine tour was, it is still worth the trip to Salentein especially if you are in the Valle de Uco region.
The restaurant was outstanding and had some awesome views of the Andes. I can't imagine what it looks like in the winter, spring and fall with snow covering most of the mountains.
Modern art and architecture lovers will like the place too. There is wonderful art throughout the property and The Killka museum was impressive. The place was designed by the same architect that designed our favorite Uco Valley bodega, O Fournier. The cellar in both feature his trademark cross shaped design.