Bodega Salentein is in the Valle de Uco, a stunning place to taste wine. The Andes rise up directly beside you, offering a view of the wild wilderness while you comfortably sip Malbec. Salentein is stunning architecturally, an ultra-modern complex which includes an art gallery, restaurant, the cellars, and tasting rooms. The tour starts in the main building, with a stroll through the vineyards to the fermenting room and barrel room.
The sun is oppressively hot in Mendoza in summer, and the five-minute stroll left us grateful for the cool cave-like cellars across the vineyard. The cellar is phenomenal – an upper level with a balcony looking deep down to the barrels below. A grand piano sits in a foyer in the center of the barrels – twice per year a concert is played, the lofty ceiling and grand space providing amazing acoustics.
We descended a couple of levels to tour around the barrels, then headed into a tasting room for some chardonnay, pinot noir, and cabernet sauvignon.
It’s a beautiful spot to visit, and a huge operation. You can find Salentein wines globally – website here for more information. We headed back to Mendoza proper that evening, where we were staying at the Mod Hotel. I can highly recommend it – an outdoor pool to ward off the heat, extensive breakfast buffet, spacious rooms, and lovely décor. While we didn’t have much luck with dining options in the city, just a little ways outside is a truly unique experience. Cava de Cano, on route to Lujan, a suburb of Mendoza, offers a one-of-a-kind quirky Argentine experience.
We rang the bell at a giant door, and luckily got in without having made a reservation. Descending below ground level to a cool and dark cellar, you are given a private room for your party. Laid out is a gigantic Argentine Picada – a term for the appetizer spread commonly served which is something between Spanish tapas and Italian antipasto. A typical picada will have some salami, cured meats, cheese, and olives. This was SO far beyond that. . .
In addition to the standard meat and cheese was olives, chickpeas, various beans, all kinds of roasted vegetables, eggs, quinoa, lentils, dried fruits and nuts, bread, and several items cooked in Malbec – rice, onions, and cabbage.
If that wasn’t sufficient, the main dish – beef stew with potatoes and carrots, was brought out 20 minutes later. It may not look like much but it was delicious. Large amounts of house red wine and water are included in the set menu price. Upon being offered dessert, also included, we could only surrender and ask for espresso instead. The price per head was 240 pesos, or around 14 euros. An incredible deal for the service, experience, and food.
All in all the trip to Mendoza offered everything we expected and more – incredibly friendly and open people, amazing wines, beautiful scenery, architecture, and one-of-a-kind dining experiences. Any trip to Argentina is not complete without a visit here 🙂