Monday, 17 March 2014

Argentina: Cafayate

Welcome to Cafayate (south of Salta city) and home to Argentina's highest altitude wines...

Around me the land is arid but beautiful - lush vineyards are bordered by dry, Cacti-ridden plains all surrounded by red mountains. It may seem strange that wine and cacti grow together but water levels are artificially maintained here in order to produce great wine.

With so many vineyards to choose from and so little time, here is my quick guide to the area...

The most scenic vineyard, so I'm told, is Bodega Colomé. I didn't have time to visit it since it is a three hour drive away from the town but if you have longer than I did, it should be worth the trip.

The vineyards I did visit were YacochuyaDomingo Molina, El Porvenir,

Finca Las Nubesand Figuero.

The best tasting experience is at Domingo Molina - a family vineyard - where you get to try 5 wines and some cheese from one of the three brother's cheese factory (which you can also visit). A lovely lady also shows you around and explains the whole manufacturing process. The tasting cost 40 pesos which is redeemable against anything you buy.

Cabernet leaf (left), Malbec leaf (right)

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Fincas Los Nubes has wine made by J.L. Mounier, a well respected winemaker in the region and offers a free tasting with some pretty good wines.
Fincas Los Nubes View
Porvenir - a military like complex that takes their tasting very seriously (75 pesos) - gives you a full explanation of their wines and is heavily featured on Gaucho's menu in London - a good accolade since Phil Croisby (their wine buyer) knows his stuff.


Other than some great tastings and exciting purchases, we had our best meal of our entire trip at Muse by Jonathan Cartwright in the Grace hotel. Admittedly it was slightly hit and miss but when it hit it was unbelievably good.

We started with a complimentary amuse bouche of sword fish ceviche and guacamole which was deliciously fresh, sour and zingy. 

Next we had the raw llama carpaccio   - divinely tender and steak tartare. For the mains we shared a rather confused pork dish and the most delicious yet - llama steak.

As a palette cleanser we had a Torrontes sorbet that was perfectly balanced in terms of sweetness, sharpness and booziness. And finally, we had two somewhat forgettable desserts. 

This was all washed down by a very good, full bodied Porvenir Tannat (2012) and served with smiles and wonderfully friendly service. I am somewhat gutted that we only discovered it on our last day there.