SF Bay Area
Food and drink that has us seeing gold
After breakfast at Esplendor Mendoza it was time to make our way to our next boutique hotel, but first we had a tour and tasting organized at the beautiful Casarena. With a similar set up as Dominio del Plata, which you can read about in our previous article Esplendor in the Vines, here our wonderful guide shared his depth of historic knowledge about wines in Argentina while touring the production area and beautiful cellars.
The tour began with a walk through the vines where our guide spoke of the difference in varietals and what makes this specific plot of land so special for growing the grapes. Next we walked among the fermentation tanks where Natalie poured a glass of Malbec straight from the tank for us to taste and although the product was not yet ready for bottling it was a great precursor for what was to come. As we made our way around the facility our guide had set up tasting stations so as he explained each step or possible variation in production we could taste a wine made through that specific method to see the difference.
After our tour it was time for lunch at Restaurant Casarena where the vineyard has raised the land a little to give you a great view over the grapes to the amazing Andes. Here the tasting menu was delicious as everything in Argentina had been so far however the wine pairings stole the show with great fresh whites and reds with lots of character and body. There was no individual bottle that stood out here as they were all amazing though to pick one I would have to go with the Casarena DNA Malbec, they actually produce over 8 different malbec's from different vineyards and that is just the beginning.
With lunch over it was finally time to unveil my surprise reservation to Natalie, so we called a car and made our way to the delightful Entre Cielos Luxury Wine Hotel, also in Luján de Cuyo. Upon arrival to the hotel we sent our luggage ahead on a go cart with the staff but decided to take the short walk through the grounds, passing the Hamam Spa along with the scattered art pieces on display. Once we reached the main building we were offered a glass of the house rosé and after some quick introductions we were shown to our amazing room with the most perfect view of the beautiful gardens and pool.
We got ourselves settled then went for a walk to take in the pristine grounds of this hotel and bumped into Cécile Adam; the managing partner of the estate who graciously offered to join us for cocktails and a wine tasting that evening before dinner. We had a cocktail each from the bar where their team has put together a simple menu utilizing ingredients from the property, like the Eucalyptus Negroni. The wine tasting was next, which was lead by Cécile Adam, and ventured through their Rosé, Malbec and Pinot Noir accompanied by some great local cheeses. As for dinner, the menu looked amazing but unfortunately our wine consumption throughout the day along with a large lunch and a cheese plate with the tasting we were exhausted and decided to skip dinner.
The following morning we woke ravenous and quite hung over so we freshened up and made our way back to the restaurant where they offer a great fresh continental spread and a small menu of items from the kitchen like eggs (prepared any way), omelets and waffles with an assortment of accompaniments. The views of the grounds are again quite impressive from the restaurant as you look out the huge windows at the lovely pool area with grape vines and the Andes Mountains in the background. It was such a warm day and the pool was so inviting that we could not resist so we spent a good section of our day swapping between the whirlpool jacuzzi, lap pool and the covered day bed. The day seemed to fly by and by 5pm I was as red as a lobster and it was time for Natalie’s big surprise.
Relaxation is the name of the game here at Entre Cielos and if you look at the amazing packages they offer you will see there is one part of the property you must not forget about. The on site Hamam Spa is considered to be the #1 spa of its kind in Latin America and their packages range from basic circuits to luxurious and extravagant treatments. The basic circuit package is amazing with multiple steam rooms, a relaxation pool and grape seed exfoliation. However the services only get better as you continue and while we were here I wasn’t going to keep it simple so we got the best package available and it was worth every peso. It was so amazing I wrote a separate article, read about the Hamam Spa and Wine Bath if you want go into more depth.
The Hamam Spa was amazing and our full treatment took around 3 hours so we were a little late for the evening’s asado and missed out on the empanada making class as a result, but that didn’t stop us from enjoying the labor of others. The asado here was the best we’ve had so far, utilizing as much of the animal as possible. I’m an adventurous eater and the majority of the cuts were your standard run of the mill however they decided to start the evening with some chinchulin and mollejas paired with rosé and over the next 3 hours both the wines and the meats got heavier. The table was still full of food by the end of the evening and everyone moved on from the wine to Armagnac before eventually heading to bed.
The following morning we enjoyed the delicious breakfast spread again and then it was time to move on; next stop, the Algodon Wine Estates. Be sure to follow the adventures of Beautiful Booze on Instagram and Facebook.
Founder and creator of the cocktail website and blog Beautiful Booze. Natalie is a mixologist, cocktail stylist, photographer, recipe developer, and social media guru. Beautiful Booze the website features over 400 original recipes and photography that celebrate cocktails. From "DIY" bourbon tastings to simple 2-ingredient cocktails Beautiful Booze has something special shaking for everyone. Beautiful Booze has been named one of the top 5 cocktail Instagram accounts to follow and Natalie has a passion for Instagram and social media. Natalie is a regular contributor to Foodable WebTV, Drinkwire, Vinepair, and Delish. Her recipes have been featured on Liquor.com, Huffington Post, Fox News Magazine, Today Show, Latin Kitchen, Cosmopolitan, Pop Sugar, Country Living and many more.