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Argentina Wine Country

If you want a true taste of Argentina’s Mendoza region, find a bottle of Zolo Malbec from Fincas Patagonicas (www.fincaspatagonicas.com). Better yet, go there--and raise a glass to the winery's president Patricia Freuler Ortiz.

Patricia (pronounced ‘Pa-tree-see-ah’) Ortiz is the woman to follow if you want to taste (and see) the best of Argentina and Mendoza. Ask her about how she and her husband, outgoing Buenos Aires attorney Jorge Ortiz, bought their modern Andes foothills winery from Kendall Jackson. It’s best told over a glass of Malbec, but the short version is that Kendall Jackson had dug a well that couldn’t support the entire vineyard. KJ wanted out--half their vines had died--so Patricia and Jorge bought the winery and vineyard and then simply proceeded to line a dirt canal that brought water to a neighboring vineyard and arranged to use the water previously absorbed in the ground.

You can bring water to a vineyard, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it will lead to drinking good wine. In the case of Fincas Patagonicas, you’ll definitely want to taste the evidence. The possibilities include the aforementioned Zolo Malbec, along with tasty versions of Cab, Merlot, Chard, Sauvignon Blanc, and a popular Argentinean varietal, Torrontes.

But, a sample from her vineyard and winery is literally just a taste of Patricia’s (and Jorge’s) story. A former physician (specifically, a nephrologist), Patricia believes people need to visit Mendoza to truly appreciate Argentinean wines. Her vineyard provides the perfect base, thanks to a boutique hotel she created called Club Tapiz.

Situated down a dirt road running through the vineyards, Club Tapiz is located in an 1890 residence that’s reminiscent of a Tuscan villa (relocated to the Andes). The seven oh-so contemporary and South American-stylish rooms are augmented by a pool, a small spa, and Terruno, a restaurant with views of the vineyards and the Andes and contemporary cuisine prepared by famous (in Argentina) chef Max Casa.

There's also a private home (called Casa Zolo) on the property that's available for rent. Club Tapiz offers afternoon and early-evening wine tastings and “tapas” on a terrace from heaven. The Ortiz's winery, officially called Bodega Tapiz, is less than 30 minutes from the hotel.

Patricia says those interested in pursuing a Mendoza visit should also check out www.bestofmendoza.com.