The Age of Argentina
It takes two to tango. Argentina is the destination on the lips of every wine lover. Maybe it’s the dulce vida; Argentines know how live passionately like no others. Dive into pulsating Buenos Aires, Argentina’s European-like capital rich in history with a distinctive South American flair where fashion, the arts, and dining rule. Learn to tango with top dancers and then watch the pros at one of Buenos Aires’ hottest Cabaret shows. Head to the wild (wine) west of Mendoza where wine gems are handcrafted at the feet of the jagged, snow-capped mountain peaks. Partake in vertical, barrel, and comparative tastings at prestigious boutique and garage wines in Mendoza with winemakers and owners. Develop, hone, and practice your wine tasting skills while deepening your knowledge of local wines and food by visits to the markets, olive groves, and with local chefs. But it’s all about getting away and relaxing, too. Slumber in delicious properties along the way that will totally indulge you. Delicioso.
Welcome to Buenos Aires! Meet your driver after customs and transfer to your hotel in Recoleta. For a moment, you may think you got on the wrong plane to Paris. Elegant, tall, grandiose mansions whisper of wealth from the early 19th century. The shady tree-lined streets have a decidedly European feel where posh residents join at classic cafés to converse or walk their dogs decked out in Gucci. It also is a traditional area where an exclusive boutique is neighbors with a long-time butcher or verdulería, vegetable stand.
Check into your hotel, a Belle Époque landmark and one of Buenos Aires’ most exclusive, non-chain hotels. Completely renovated in 2004, classical European decor meets luxurious materials such as Italian marble, crystal, and bronze come together. With a staff ratio of three-to-one, the Alvear is renowned for its sharp, professional service. Let your personal butler help you settle in. Have teatime in L’Orangerie. Location? You’ve got it! Just out the golden front doors is the heart of posh Recoleta with nearly all of Buenos Aires at your fingertips.
In the evening, meet with the group to dine at a closed-door wine and food society at the private home of one of Argentina’s top sommeliers. Allow the attentive sommelier, private chef, and staff to woo you with a thrilling multi-course luncheon or dinner paired with fine Argentine wines, from Torrontes to Malbec. The innovative dishes fuse Argentine culinary traditions and techniques with the freshest local ingredients. (Alvear Palace)
Set off for a historical exploration of Buenos Aires. Rendezvous with our guide, an academic scholar, to understand the unique social, political, and cultural history from the city’s founding days to the latter half of the 20th century. From the bustling, congested downtown centro to the stylish and “aristocratic” northern neighborhoods to the somewhat seedy, working class southern districts, visit the city’s highlights. Visit elegant Recoleta, the downtown microcentro, site of the Palacio del Congress, Casa Rosada and other government buildings–and the Plaza de Mayo. Enjoy the colorful and El Caminito in La Boca, still a rough-and-tumble Italian immigrant neighborhood where tango was born. Inspect the renovated docks and converted warehouses—now marinas and condos–of Puerto Madero. Saunter along the cobblestone streets of San Telmo with its turn-of-the-century facades, bohemian cafés, antique sellers, and Sunday flea market.
Break for lunch in San Telmo at one of our favorite restaurants after a Sunday romp in the barrio. Overtaking a scenic corner in San Telmo with picture windows and maroon awnings flapping in the breeze, savor French fare with Argentine flair, paired with some of the best wines in Argentina. Return to your hotel where the rest of the day is yours to spend as you like. Dinner is on your own tonight. (Alvear Palace)
Sleep in. Relax. Brush up on your Spanish. Go shopping. Walk the gardens of Palermo. The day is yours to enjoy as you please.
After lunch, join the action in our own barrio, Recoleta. Energize ourselves from the mid-afternoon slump and discover why drinking mate in Argentina is an act of national unity, identity, and culture. At a local tea house, dive deeper into understanding this fascinating yerba with a tea expert. Try three different kinds of maté, accompanied by typical Argentine pastries such as alfajores de maicena.
A short stroll away, head to a private tango studio of one Buenos Aires premier tango dancers. Learn the basic steps of this passionate, heartfelt dance. Return to the hotel to freshen up and get ready to experience BA’s hottest tango show. Beautifully choreographed, costumed and produced, the top-talent dancers, musicians and vocalists evoke the melodrama and nostalgia of the tango with a modern edge. Before the show, enjoy a mouth-watering dinner. Then, sip your fernet cola, the favorite local mixer, and experience the moody, sensual tango. Back at the hotel, say buenas noches, or use your newfound tango skills to hit the town’s milongas, where the locals tango the night away. (Alvear Palace)
This morning, jet to Mendoza, only 1.5 hours to the west. Touch down at the majestic base of the snow-capped Andes and transfer to your exclusive digs, an exclusive Relais & Chateaux hotel nestled in a vineyard outside the city of Mendoza. Check your private casita with its own plunge pool and rooftop terrace overlooking the Andes. The ideal spot to perfect the art of sipping Malbec.
The rest of today is free to unwind. Indulge yourself in the vinotherapy treatments. In the evening, meet in the wine cellar for an introduction to Mendoza’s varied terroir and an educational wine. Celebrate the beginning of our Mendoza wine adventure after with a full-course group dinner at the hotel. (Cavas Wine Lodge)
After breakfast, become acquainted with Luján de Cuyo, the self-proclaimed Tierra del Malbec, Land of Malbec. Explore the different microclimates of the area to develop an appreciation of why the desert-like climate and high altitude provide the ideal place for the grape to express itself.
Visit friends dedicated to making the very best wines possible: long, satiny and ripe wines for the soul. Visit their petite family winery and receive a warm welcome that makes you feel like… family! Learn the art of their craft, taste straight from the barrels, and understand how they slowly built their bodega through hard work and heartfelt passion. Sit down for a relaxed tasting of their wines and cheeses.
Next, visit a reference wine project to understand how meticulously tended 80-year-old vines produce intense yet elegant wines that are full of character. Tour the turn-of-the-century adobe bodega followed by a tasting of different samples of Malbec. You will never look at Malbec the same way again!
Arrive at a winery hidden off a dusty country road. Chime the bell of this tiny garage winery, whose owner and winemaker is considered to be one of the fathers of Mendocino terroir. Using their own savings, ingenuity, and passion, his family makes truly handcrafted wines and artisan olive oil. This is as local as it gets!
Visit a new boutique project started where the passion is obvious in everything the family does. Meet the winemaker and sommelier as they receive you as honored guests and point out all the details and care that go into every bottle and tasting from the barrel to bottle. After, with views of the Andes afar, sit down to a private luncheon with empanadas from their mud oven, succulent grilled meats and salads and sip their zingy rosé, bright Chardonnay and Malbec on a breezy terrace. Return to the hotel after lunch in the late afternoon. Dinner is on your own. (Cavas Wine Lodge)
This morning, visit an estate on the sloping plateau of Alto Agrelo whose focus is on producing limited edition wines. Be received by their warm team to understand their concept of viticulture; visit the sleek, pristine winery with concrete construction; and then delight in an educational tasting of their fabulous, well-balanced icon wines.
Drive over the scenic, rolling hills an hour south of Mendoza to the high-altitude Uco Valley. Here, surrounded by the grandeur of the Andes Mountains, many wineries are experimenting with new varietals such as Cabernet, Tempranillo, and Syrah. A lush agricultural valley in the midst of a parched desert, the valley floor is dotted with almond trees and fruit orchards.
Journey to a family-owned boutique winery with some of Uco’s most coveted terroir. The objective here is on quality not quantity, and, of course, expressing Uco’s stony, high-altitude soil in the full, generous wines. Be welcomed into their guesthouse for a wonderful tasting with local cheeses to accompany the wines. Stay on for a private lunch where each course is paired with their wonderful house wines. Enjoy the views of the Andes from their balmy terrace. Ahh, such is the life in Mendoza!
After lunch, visit the newest winery an extraordinary French winemaker’s “wine condo”. As the Mendoza plateau rises into the Andes, this bodega is an amazing intersection of architectural innovation combined with classic winemaking methods. The owners are proprietors of two chateaux in Bordeaux and their wines reflect the intensity of the sun– rich, complex, and elegantly crafted. Visit the facilities and sit down to an exclusive tasting.
In the evening, to celebrate our last night together, head into Mendoza city to Argentina’s celebrity chef’s flagship restaurant, located inside an elegant century-old bodega. Admire the handsome architecture with its huge antique iron windows overlooking the terrace and garden, the setting is a beautiful prelude for the meticulously presented cuisine. Dive into the simple and delicious food philosophy using only the finest Argentine meats and fresh local produce. Try the signature burnt carrot salad, chivito (baby goat), or salt-crusted chicken, all slow roasted in the traditional outdoor mud oven. (Cavas Wine Lodge)
After check out, visit Mendoza’s traditional market dating back to the late 19th century. Filled to the brim with colorful characters and lively banter, investigate the many vibrant and intriguing stalls that sell a multitude of delectable foods such as cured meats, provoleta, mermeleda, wild asparagus and blue eggs from the Araucano chickens. Savor savory empanadas or crispy wedge of pizza.
Stroll through the bustling downtown pedestrian malls to arrive at a tiny storefront, learning about Mendoza’s unique history. Here, the owner’s passion is local, artisanal-produced olive oil. Brought to the region by European immigrants, olive groves flourish around Mendoza with the dry, hot climate and ample thermic amplitude. Sit down to an educational tasting of several varieties of local olive oil like the peppery Arauco or floral Manzanilla accompanied by scrumptious home baked bread, spreads, and nibbles.
Join a passionate local chef for a special cooking class. Learn how to prepare empanadas mendocinas in the traditional clay oven. Understand the art of grilling the Argentine way with succulent grass-fed beef and vegetables over the open fire. Untap the secret to preparing the pungent, explosive chumichurri sauce, with garlic, parsley, and red chili, made with the farm’s own native Arauco olive oil. Still hungry? Finish up with caramelized fruit from the clay oven and organic herbs. Heaven. Transfer to the Mendoza airport for your departing flights.