The wonderful Uco Valley was our destination for day 3 and the sun shone brightly on the Andes creating the most glorious drive south as we headed out of Mendoza. The Uco Valley is unquestionably the most exciting bit of terroir in Argentina and land prices have rocketed as winemakers have discovered that the combination of high altitude, well drained soils, unlimited Andes water for irrigation and lots of sunshine is a potent mix for high quality production.
Bodega Azul was our first stop and it was a pleasure to be back after my first visit in 2011. Azul is the smallest estate in the Uco Valley with 120 hectares and is Argentine family owned. They sell most of their fruit to the big estates but make about 60,000 bottles under their own label.
Pablo was a great host as we tasted our way through the range – a fascinating Chardonnay/Semillon fizz, Sauvignon Blanc, unoaked Malbec and Cabernet and the rounding off with the premium wines: The Reserve and Grande Reserve. Both were blends of Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec with varying amounts of oak. Absolutely top class across the range.
Then it was literally a hop across the road to Jean Bousquet. A major player in organic wine, the founder came from Carcassonne in 1993 searching for the perfect place to make wine. With a production of two million litres they have acquired a global reputation.
We relaxed with a glass of Reserve Chardonnay around the lake and had a quick tour of the vineyards and winery. The main event though was the six course tasting lunch. An utterly superb meal was served – high quality presentation, perfectly cooked, delicate portions until we got to the beef, and paired brilliantly with the estate wines. Grilled prawns, a beetroot and cheese pasta, amazing beef, clever little dishes in between and a delightful dessert.
A brilliant day in the Uco Valley.