I’ve just checked the weather forecast in Mendoza, and it’s a perfect 22 degrees but here at home in London, I’ve got the central heating blazing and outside it’s pouring with rain. It’s taken me six weeks to get my head back together after what was a memorable trip to Argentina, and there’s no denying that I’m pining for a long-lost love to return to the Finca Adalgisa.
Nestled in the middle of what’s now a thriving neighbourhood, in 2001 Gabriella Furlotti transformed her family home in Chacras de Coria into the town’s first boutique hotel and Finca.
There are fruit trees all around, peach, cherry, plum and pear, all are surrounded by vines. Each harvest produces about 5,000 bottles which are served in the Bodega or sold to guests.
There are eleven rooms split between “The Old House” and “The Stone House”. We were lucky enough to stay in both. The suites are big with a colossal bedroom and ample storage. There’s a separate bathroom with shower and a large living area with a concealed kitchen area and minibar. Our room in the Old House was again very comfortable but on the smaller side with everything we needed. There are good wi-fi and I-Pod docking stations but it doesn’t get much more high-tech than this, and you can forget a widescreen TV, but you won’t need it here. Staying in the house, we had full run of it, so enjoyed a large separate seating area, an outside patio and use of the library. Both rooms had Finca toiletries, monogrammed linen on the beds and a turn-down service.
The mercury was topping thirty when we visited and mid-afternoon the paving slabs surrounding the pool could not be touched with bare feet. I’m sure if you listened hard enough you could hear sun-baked flesh sizzle on contact with the water, but there’s plenty of complimentary jugs of freshly made lemonade and iced cucumber water to keep even the most ardent sun worshipper hydrated.
Each night from 6 pm you can go to the Finca’s Bodega to sample their Malbec before you head out to dinner. Or, alternatively, you can sit and snack on the simple menu on offer. We had an excellent bottle of their 2008 and a tasty cheese plate to complement it on the night we visited. In the winter months, you are invited to take wine back to your room and light a fire.
The star turn in the hotel’s pet department has to be Vinko (pronounced Binko) a beast of a Newfoundland who just loves being petted. He made the Finca his home after visiting for a few weeks while his owner went away on business – he decided that he never wanted to leave – and I have to agree with his thinking on this one. He gets on very well with the two German Shepherds and cats who also have the Finca as their home.
There isn’t a restaurant for evening meals or lunch, but a hearty self-service buffet and the option of a cooked to order breakfast is on offer every morning. The kitchen makes great coffee, super eggs and bacon and for those seeking a healthier start, there’s a self-service buffet full of fresh fruit, home-made muesli, nuts and yoghurt.
Once the gates close, you’d be hard pushed to believe there’s life outside. It’s well within easy driving distance of some of the best vineyards Mendoza has to offer and is, therefore, an ideal base. It’s just 15 minutes away from Mendoza airport and a half an hour’s drive away from the bus station. The town centre is a ten-minute stroll away where you’ll find plenty of places to eat and if you’re feeling adventurous take out one of the hotel’s mountain bikes. The Finca’s kitchen can even provide you with a picnic for two, full of the best goodies the region has to offer at an additional cost.
The hotel offers a wine tour where small groups of guests travel in an air-conditioned people carrier to three wineries. We visited Alta Vista, Belasco de Banquedano and Kaiken and I’ll be writing about all three. We had an amazing day and a most incredible lunch – the menu at Belasco was astonishing, but then the 3* Michelin restaurant ‘Lasarte-Oria’ in Guipuzcoa in Spain was responsible for the food. I thought the day was an absolute snip at $135 per person. Here’s Alta Vista where the guinea pigs make the olive trees their home.
One of the highlights of our stay at the Finca was the cookery demonstration with chef Cristina Bruno which takes place underneath the stars and the old walnut tree. A small group learned to make empanadas and Chimichurri sauce, and we cooked steak and vegetables all in a super-hot clay oven. You leave, not only with excellent tips from a brilliant chef but with a Finca apron and recipes to create at home, although it has to be said that oven made a massive difference to the taste, and we’ve not got a walnut tree either here in London. The class is open to non-hotel residents and is $100, $90 for guests – a great price bearing in mind you eat a full meal – including one of the best steaks of the trip – and wine that flows from a never-ending bottle of Finca Malbec.
I would recommend Finca Adalgisa to anyone thinking of staying in the Mendoza area. Gabriela is a great host and has so much charm and a passion for what she does; she’s always on hand along with her well-trained staff to help you enjoy the Finca to the full and make your stay in Mendoza an unforgettable one.