My adventures in Argentina began with a charming getaway that has everything you could desire when it comes to a relaxing time, fabulous wines, sumptuous meals, and wonderful accommodations. Terrazas de Los Andes is a Luján De Cuyo destination winery that involves each visitor in a unique epicurean experience. It was my first stop on my wine travels through Argentina.
Terrazas de Los Andes and their partnering winery Cheval des Andes, a joint venture between Terrazas de Los Andes and the Cheval Blanc in France, are part of the Moet & Chandon wine family.
Located about a half an hour from Mendoza airport in the Luján De Cuyo area, the estate winery is an unexpected oasis situated in an idyllic setting. The drive from the airport is not the most scenic, but once you enter the gates of Terrazas, you will fall in love with your surroundings. Entering, I found beautifully landscaped grounds with vegetable gardens and Wisteria cascading over arbors.
The Property in Luján De Cuyo
The property consists of the original remodeled Spanish winery, tasting room, and guesthouse. The home is tastefully decorated and provides a pleasant atmosphere to relax after a day of wine tasting. The architectural style is Spanish Bungalow. There are six suites, each named after the varietals Terrazas produces and those that are most known in Argentina. They are Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot, Petit Manseng, and Torrontés. The home features several sitting areas, a dining room, and inviting charming lanai, which is where I enjoyed lunch and dinner.
My accommodations were spaciously appointed with hardwood floors, a chaise lounge. I felt right at home and extremely comfortable after my 20 plus hour trip from Los Angeles.
After freshening up and a light bite, I took a private tour of the winery with Adrian Meyer, Terrazas’ senior winemaker. Adrian introduced me to the wines of Argentina, the history of the winery, and the winemaking process they utilize.
The Terrazas de Los Andes facility is housed in an old winery that dates back to 1898. Wandering through the winery, I could see some of the original concrete tanks with their decorative scrolling on the exterior walls and brick archways that create the corridors of the winery.
In 1959 Moët & Chandon wanted a presence outside of Europe to make their sparkling wines. They open Bodegas Chandon, which was the first subsidiary outside of France. In 1999 Moët Hennessy and Bodegas Chandon founded Terrazas de Los Andes in its current location. The name Terrazas was chosen because it means the high altitude growing regions of Argentina known as the terraces. The Andes are the backdrop to these vineyards, hence the use of Los Andes. It also represents what the winery is about, producing altitude wines.
In the winery, I found some tanks different from those typically seen in California. These stainless steel cones are very prevalent in Argentina, and they are used to ferment red grapes. Their cone shape allows the skins deeper contact, bringing out the tannins, making the wine more colorful.
Terrazas de Los Andes features three labels, the Altos Del Plata, Reserva and Single Vineyard. As Altos means lower, these are the least expensive wines created. These wines ferment and aged in stainless steel. This label includes Chardonnay, Malbec, and Cabernet Sauvignon.
The Reserva brand produces Chardonnay, Torrontes, the only native grape of Argentina, Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Syrah. These wines age in 1-5-year-old barrels.
Under the Single Vineyard label, there is Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon. At Terrazas, they use first and second-year barrels. The Reserve reds age for twelve months followed by six months in the bottle before release. The single-vineyard designation wines ages 18 months in barrel and one year in the bottle.
During my October visit, springtime in Argentina, you could see the buds breaking. Chardonnay is first to bloom. Cabernet Sauvignon is the last to bud. The grapes are handpicked and handcrafted. Harvest begins with Chardonnay in February and continues through April with Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon.
My tasting began with the 2012 Reserve Torrontes, a wine from the Salta region of Argentina, was fruity and crisp with aromas of lemongrass and grapefruit. Hints of tropical and stone fruit were apparent. The wine has a complex, smooth finish.
The 2011 Reserva Malbec blends grapes from both the Lujan de Cuyo and the Uco Valley. Using a combination of 80% French and 20% American oak, the wine has a deep dark color with notes of cherry. The aromas are that of licorice. The wine is big, bold and fruit-forward yet also delivers sweet round tannins.
Tasting the difference between the Reserva Malbec and the Single Vineyard 2009 Malbec was quite evident. With the vines planted in 1929, the later had a bouquet of raspberries and plums. The flavors were that of cloves and raspberries. A big and round, complex structure gives way to a velvety, creamy texture. On the finish, I savored black fruits and figs.
We finished with a 2007 Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon. Another deep dark colored wine with aromas of Licorice. The wine was earthy and dryer with an herbal quality, especially that of Anise.
Meals at Terrazas
I enjoyed three meals at Terrazas. Terrazas has two chefs, Manuel Debandi and. Noelia Squizziatto who specializes in using local ingredients to create regional cuisine. Following my arrival, I enjoyed a deliciously light salad of greens, shrimp, mushrooms, and tomatoes.
My dinner began with a charcuterie of meats cheese, olives, nuts, and raisins paired with a 2012 Terrazas Reserva Chardonnay. The Chardonnay was very crisp yet also smooth with a creamy quality. With hints of pears, the Chardonnay displayed a nice balance of acidity and minerality. My second course consisted of two salads. One with microgreens and the other an Argentine Tostada made with a Parmesan cheese shell and filled with a chopped salad. I don’t know if it was the presentation or my stomach that beckoned me to indulge in the crispy and savory Parmesan cheese shell.
My entrée was a very tender filet, but I must remind people that what Argentines consider rare is actually medium. I had a constant battle of getting my meat cooked to my perfection and not the chefs. Tomato salad accompanied a filet steak. The entrée paired nicely with Terrazas’ Reserva Syrah. This wine was different from the Syrahs I typically drink from the California Central Coast. There was a more austere quality to this wine yet it displayed the dark cherry sweet flavor so ever-present in Syrahs.
I capped off the meal with a 2012 Single Vineyard El Yaima Petit Manseng. This dessert wine was golden in color and had the sweet flavors of apricot and mango.
Needless to say, after my tour and delicious meal, I slept like a baby. In the morning, I woke to a wonderful assortment of condiments to accompany my omelet. By looking at the morning’s display, you would have thought Terrazas was feeding a larger group.
Luján De Cuyo Visit Finale
Terrazas also offers cooking classes in the garden at Terrazas. Here one learns the art of Argentine regional cuisine paired with Terrazas wines.
As Terrazas de Los Andes was my first stop, setting the stage for the rest of my wonderful adventures in Argentina, I could not have asked for such a marvelous place to begin my journey. I highly recommend discovering the district of Luján de Cuyo with a visit to this idyllic destination.
For more information:
Terrazas de Los Andes
Note: Common to the wine and travel industry, this writer was hosted to this winery visit, accommodation, and meals. While it has not influenced this review, the writer believes in full disclosure.