At the base of the Aconcagua Mountains, the highest peaks in the Americas is Belasco de Baquedano. Just one of the wineries owned by the Spanish Familia Belasco who have made wine for almost two centuries, the bulk of their production is in Spain.
Impressive gates open on to a long drive, which runs right through the 222-acre vineyard, the end of which is a Mayan style five-story building.
Because there’s no production in any of the wineries during our visit in January, everything is incredibly shiny and what makes it even more evident here is that they’ve got the brightest red lacquered concrete floors, and their stainless tanks polished to create steel-blindness to the visitor. They’ve got all mod cons here, a mechanical steam barrel washer, lot sorters and de-stemmers and individually pumped tanks. Then there’s the refrigerated grape chambers, gravity-driven grape delivery (from sorting table to tank) and then to top it off they’ve got a lounge (temperature and humidity controlled) for their bottle storage.
Were we all impressed? Absolutely, but then we move on to their ”Hall of Aromas’’. Musk, mint and mushroom are just three of the 46 scents associated with wine that you’re invited to sniff. In perspex posts that line a large room, a small capsule of oil sits at its base; you spin a baffle, which releases the scent.
On the top floor of the winery is the Navarra Restaurant where we were to have our lunch. It has huge picture windows that look directly at the Andes. All the food on the menu complement just one wine, the Malbec.
To begin, we had the most delicious cheese marinated with sweet peppers and garlic cream. A glass of Rosa de Argentina Malbec Rose accompanied this. It’s a crisp wine with cherries, raspberries and strawberries on both the nose and in the mouth.
A tapas course was next, and that was a plate of chistorra with red pepper, along with a leek and cheese croquette and Romesco sauce. Accompanied with a glass of Loan Malbec imagine cherries, ripe raspberries and strawberries on the nose and in the mouth with a stylish and crisp finish.
The starter was a caramelised pumpkin and green onion wrap with a bouquet of fresh green salad with a vinegar reduction and black pepper and a glass of AR Guentota Malbec. A juicy dark berry, plum and raisin notes along with a thick toast and spice hint. Aged for 12 months in new French oak barrels.
For the main course, steak, but if you are a vegetarian don’t worry they cater for you too. Our non-meat eating companion had a generous plate of beetroot risotto.
Beef tenderloin, accompanied with a black olive Creole sauce, rosemary potatoes with vinegar reduction and black pepper.
This dish needed a big red, and we got it in a bottle of Swinto which means “Crow” in Huarpe Indian language, and the first inhabitants of the Mendoza river valley. It’s fermented in new French oak barrels and remains there for 15 months. A mahogany colour with ripe red stone fruits, jams and spices. A big flavour, dense and unfiltered and my absolute favourite.
Dessert was a bitter chocolate mousse, served with some marinated fruits and an orange granita.
The waitresses were incredibly liberal with their pouring hands so if you have to visit other vineyards you may want to bear that in mind and leave the odd drop.
Coffee ended a meal that could have very easily continued until nightfall
Service not included.
You leave the winery via the shop where we managed to buy just two bottles of the good Swinto I only wish I could have brought back more.