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Wine tasting in a vintage car, Mendoza (Page 2)

Vintage car at Familia Zuccardi vineyard © Craig FastDriving through the beautifully kept vineyards with the snow-capped Andes on the horizon was an exquisite experience. The vineyards are delightful; roses, used to indicate the presence of pests as well as look pretty, decorate every corner and rustic tins, used to produce smoke to warm the vines in spring, are scattered throughout.

Even more exquisite was pulling up alongside a table underneath the vines laid with a chequered tablecloth, ice bucket, glinting wine glasses and a bottle of Zuccardi’s premium line Chardonnay Viognier. Here, my guide taught me how to taste white wine properly, without any swill-and-spit snobbery, and explained how the wine had been made. A short vintage car ride later and we repeated the process with red wine, comparing a Zuccardi Serie A Bonarda from 2006 to a 2008 Serie A Malbec.

In an added quirk, I was also treated to an olive oil tasting. Olive oil tasting involves warming the oil in a glass in your hands, swishing, sniffing the aroma and finally drinking it, allowing it to swill over your tongue. The youngest Zuccardi son is in charge of olive oil production and has produced three very successful lines: the fresh Arauco, earthy Frantoio, and the dryer, spicier Manzanilla.

Familia Zuccardi vineyard © Craig FastLunch in the Casa del Vistante

Appetite whetted by wine and olive oil, I finished the tour in Casa del Visitante, the vineyard’s restaurant. Opened in 2004, the restaurant recently won a prestigious Gold Prize for Best Winery Restaurant at the Great Wine Capitals Committee of Mendoza: needless to say, it serves up a delicious lunch. The menu changes seasonally, but will never threaten to leave you unsatisfied. I started with a selection of breads, flavoured butters and a pork terrine, followed by three freshly made empanadas and then, in typically Argentine fashion, moved on to a main course that consisted of no fewer than six different meats from the asado: chicken, sausage, blood sausage, beef ribs, pork and steak, plus grilled vegetables and salad. Belly unsurprisingly bursting, I couldn’t refuse the desert of pumpkin ice cream with fig, peach coulis and caramel flan, and a taste of Familia Zuccardi’s pride and joy, the Malamado dessert wine.

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