In October 2022, Winerist were part of something very special. Invited on a journey to Mendoza, the wine capital of Argentina, we were witness to a spectacular display of hospitality by some of the region’s best vineyards and the government of Mendoza. Why? Well, let’s just say it was a journey to discover the World’s Best Vineyard.
For the last 3 years running, the Zuccardi Valle de Uco has been crowned as the World’s Best Vineyard, and was this year, the location for the 2022 crowning of the next winner. But, lets take a step back and talk about the wonderful organisation behind this sought after prize.
The World’s Best Vineyards
The World’s Best Vineyards was created in 2016 to recognise and celebrate the wonderful hard work and passion behind the vineyards and the hospitality with which they welcome visitors to their estates.
Each year they reveal the Top 50 best vineyard experiences, ranked by visitors’ ability to taste great wines and learn about winemaking. Many also offer jaw-dropping views, on-site hotels, and restaurants. Some are among the most iconic vineyards in the world, some are modern architectural wonders, some have their own Michelin-starred restaurants, and others are small, family-run wineries where the owners conduct the tours.
Many of the wineries on the list also offer something a little different – such as a horse-drawn vintage carriage tour through the vineyard, wine tasting and pairing amid a collection of beautifully restored classic cars, art from the likes of Pablo Picasso, and lessons in cooking on an open fire.
In 2022, the three-time winner Zuccardi Valle de Uco was installed into the inaugural hall of fame where it will be joined by all winners from 2023 onwards.
The 2022 World’s Best Vineyards was awarded to Antinori nel Chianti Classico (Marchesi Antinori)
Designed by Marco Casamonti and based on the family’s own concept, the Antinori nel Chianti Classico winery in Tuscany opened in 2012 after seven years construction. Using locally sourced materials including wood, glass, terracotta, and COR-TEN steel, it blends into the landscape both visually and environmentally: surrounded by olive groves and oak trees, its roof covered in vineyards, the building appears as two graceful slits in the hillside; within, gravity-flow vinification and naturally cool cellars reduce energy consumption.
Visitors to the winery can experience the unusual architecture, contemporary winemaking facilities, and museum area. The winery restaurant, Rinuccio 1180, is set on the roof terrace in warmer months, with panoramic views over the Tuscan hills. It uses local ingredients to make traditional Tuscan dishes in an elegant, modern style. Tastings take place in a glass pod suspended over the barrels in the cellar.
It is easy to see why this estate was awarded the World’s Best Vineyard in 2022 and if you’d like to visit and see for yourself you can get in touch with us here to book your experience.
The World’s Best Vineyards and a journey through Mendoza
Thanks to the World’s Best Vineyards and the Government of Mendoza we were invited to experience some of the best wine and food that the region has to offer. Eight of Mendoza’s most acclaimed wine estates opened their doors to us and welcomed us with a supreme level of hospitality.
Our first evening of the tour was a wonderful gala dinner at the Sheraton Hotel Mendoza, hosted by DiamAndes winery. We were treated to incredible views from the top floor of the hotel whilst we dined on dishes of salmon mil-cuit paired with their beautiful DiamAndes Grande Reserve Chardonnay 2017. And beef tenderloin paired with their Grande Reserve Malbec-Cabernet 2007 (our favourite!) and their DiamAndes de Uco Malbec.
Based in the Uco Valley, the DiamAndes winery is an ultra-modern winery whose name is a play on the word “diamante,” and takes inspiration from the snow-capped peaks among which it sits, at 1,000 meters above sea level in the foothills of the Andes. The winery’s architectural design blends harmoniously with the stunning Andean scenery.
The winery won best architectural award for a winery in Argentina in 2022 and the year before was awarded for the best winery restaurant of 2021.
We strongly recommend a visit here and welcome you to arrange your visit here.
Catena Zapata (#9 in the World’s Best Vineyards 2022)
Our first stop on day 2 was to the world-famous, and deservedly so, Catena Zapata in the Lujan de Cuyo region of Mendoza.
Founded in 1902 by Italian immigrant Nicola Catena, who championed the Malbec grape despite its declining popularity in Bordeaux, Catena Zapata is today a centre of detailed viticultural study, with vineyards dubbed the country’s Grand Crus. Inspired by Mayan temples, the pyramid-shaped winery is an icon amidst the Mendozan landscapes. The exterior of the building however is not all there is to behold, stepping inside you find yourself in what is a work of art, full of light, gold, stone, and of course, the treasures that are the sought-after Catena Zapata wines.
We were honoured to be taken on a guided tour of the estate by Dr. Laura Catena herself who shared with us the history and the passion of the people who created this wonderful estate and its wines. During an incredible fine dining experience in the courtyard, we were invited to taste some of their most iconic wines whilst a beautiful artistic interpretation of the family’s history was brought to life by actress Tina Baston.
Visitors can experience the winery in 3 diverse tours; the ‘Family is Everything’ tour outlines the family’s oenological progress over the years. The ‘Blending Games’ experience turns you into a winemaker for a day, and the ‘Wine and Music’ tour is a multi-sensory session bringing the wines to life in novel ways.
If you’d like to experience Catena Zapata for yourself you can book your tour here.
Our next stop on day 2 was to the Anaia estate where we were welcomed by owners Osvaldo de Campo and Patricia Serizola and their team.
Their vineyard comprises 178 acres, in Lujan de Cuyo, Mendoza, one of the most prestigious winemaking regions in the world.
Emerging from the ground, intended to simulate the contours of the Andes mountain range, is the main winery building. Using high-tech equipment and a sustainable approach to winemaking (100% of their irrigation system and winery runs on solar energy), their wines are made in brand new concrete vats without epoxy called MATES.
Visitors can relax after their tour in the stunning tasting room and admire the views as they enjoy the fine wines of the estate. Our favourite was the Oblivion Malbec, a name that was inspired by the beautiful tango song of the same name.
We are proud to facilitate your visit to this estate and to try its exceptional wines, you also have the option of a private rental of the bodega family house itself! Get in touch here and we will arrange your visit for you.
El Enemigo Wines (#21 in the World’s Best Vineyards 2022)
El Enemigo (Casa Vigil) is the passion project of two Argentinian friends that has earned a cult following. El Enemigo – the enemy – was created to produce a wine that would respect history and traditions whilst simultaneously rejecting the status quo.
Alejandro Vigil is a soil expert and celebrated winemaker who for years has headed operations at Bodega Catena Zapata, the estate owned by Adrianna Catena’s father, the legendary Nicolás. Adrianna is a historian currently studying for her doctorate at Oxford University. The estate produces Bordeaux-inspired red and white wines with an emphasis on Cabernet Franc.
Visitors can begin their tour learning the story of the winery and taking one of the short master classes offered throughout the year teaching agricultural practices such as harvesting or pruning grapes, and blending base wines. Next, visitors can explore the orchards where most of the vegetables used at the winery restaurant are grown. This Casa Vigil restaurant is known as offering some of the finest dining in the region, with three, seven, and nine-course tasting menus paired with the full portfolio of El Enemigo wines.
To visit the El Enemigo winery you can arrange your experience here.
Day 3 started with a visit to Huentala wines. This estate comprises 230 hectares located in Gualtallary, an area of 72km2 inside Tupungato, in the famous Uco Valley at 1,400 meters above sea level. Founded in 2002 by Julio Camsen, visitors can tour the winery, one of the most memorable sights being the beautiful stone sculpture of the wolves by the lake.
To enjoy this wonderful view for yourself you can get in touch with us here.
For anyone arriving at Bodegas Salentein, like we did next, you will be struck by the architectural beauty of its exterior, the larger-than-life outdoor art that surrounds it, and the indoor/outdoor water feature and art that awaits you as you step into the first part of the bodega.
We were greeted by the family who own this incredible feat of winemaking and it soon became apparent how much love and passion has been poured into this venture, both by the family and the dedicated team who work with them.
The estate is represented at the front by their impressive visitor centre where their stunning restaurant, tasting rooms, cinema, and art gallery can be found (we’ll talk about the art later!).
Walking outside through the giant glass doors to the back it’s difficult to not become spellbound by the views that await you. 100 meters ahead, following a path through the vineyards, is the main bodega, stunning in its exterior simplicity and even more so with its backdrop of the Andes range behind it.
However, it’s the inside that really takes your breath away. In the centre of the bodega is what can only be described as a cathedral, with its high ceilings, its marble floors, and columns in the shape of a sphere, surrounded by uniquely placed barrels. The central area was host to a display of beautiful, classical music in the form of expertly played piano and violins, with the music resonating throughout the hall.
After our tour we were shown the family’s private collection of art, the most significant collection of modern art in Argentina, which would not look out of place in the Tate Gallery, London, or the Guggenheim, New York.
Of course, no visit would be complete without a tasting of their wine and we were generously invited to taste the finest wines from their range alongside an Asado prepared with the best views of the Andes behind.
We would really recommend a visit here and would be delighted to help you organise it. To do so just get in touch here.
Zuccardi Valle de Uco
Well, what can we say, there’s a reason it was crowned World’s Best Vineyard for 3 years running.
Just south of the Argentinian capital, Mendoza, the Zuccardi family’s stone winery stands amid the desert of the Uco Valley, made from the land it inhabits. The sheer architectural prowess of the winery has been attracting visitors since its completion in 2016, the surrounding desert’s natural beauty reflected (in many respects) by the metal dome crowning a building made of locally sourced stones and cement. Walking through the winery, you’ll see the concrete eggs carefully crafted to resemble amphorae, used for fermentation and contributing substantially to the wines’ style.
Visitors receive a full introduction to the diverse terroirs of the family’s Uco Valley sites, including the flagship ‘Piedra Infinita’ vineyard on the alluvial plains of the Tunuyán River in Altamira; named after the seemingly infinite amount of stones that had to be removed in order to plant vines there in the first place, it is the source of a multi-award-winning Malbec.
It also gives its name to the onsite restaurant, Piedra Infinita Cocina, where you can enjoy a four-course lunch of regional produce served with panache, floor-to-ceiling windows filling the zen-like room with the awe-inspiring Andean landscape.
A visit to Mendoza is not complete without experiencing the Zuccardi Valle de Uco winery. Book yours with us here.
Durriguti Family Winemakers
The last day of our tour, and definitely not the least, we were welcomed by the Durriguti family with a tasting of their range of reds accompanied by tantalising small plates of slow-cooked meat and melt-in-your-mouth local cheeses. We were taken on a tour of their innovative production facilities by the head winemaker who taught us how the soils rich in minerals, waters from melting ice, pure air from the Cordillera, ranging between 900 and 1,200 meters above sea level, between 10 and 15 hours a day of day light all contribute to the outstanding characteristics that form the Durriguti family wines.
The Durriguti family winery only invites private groups to tour their estate, why? They are very clear that they want to give each visitor a completely personal experience where they are free to talk at length with the winemakers and experience their knowledge and passion firsthand.
We think this is a great approach and would love to arrange your visit here.
Cheval de Los Andes
A unique Franco-Argentine alliance, the wine of Cheval des Andes combines the vibrant and intense expression of Argentinian Malbec with the rigour and elegance of a great Bordeaux. The inspiration for Cheval des Andes came from the dream of founder Pierre Lurton to follow the original Malbec vines from Bordeaux to Argentina.
In 1999, Château Cheval Blanc started a joint venture with Terrazas de Los Andes, and Cheval des Andes was born. Since then, a predominantly Malbec, Bordeaux-style blend has become the signature of Cheval des Andes.
The estate is not currently open to public visits but if you would like to arrange a unique, special visit please get in touch with us here to arrange.
Well, what brings us to the end of our journey through Mendoza with the World’s Best Vineyards. If you’d like to arrange your own visit we can create the ideal tailor-made tour including your accommodation, which wineries to visit, and if you’d like to include some additional activities like horseriding, trekking, or even hot air ballooning over the Andes! Just get in touch here.
The location for next year’s World’s Best Vineyards Event will be announced in January. So keep your eye out for the news as well as updates on the contenders by following them on Instagram @worldsbestvineyards or visiting them at worldsbestvineyards.com.