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Urban Restaurant, O Fournier, Uco Valley
The Spanish-owned O Fournier winery complex, a high-tech architectural masterpiece housing colourful artworks, is one of the showpieces of the Uco Valley. Surrounded by vineyards in the district of San Carlos, it is in the Andes foothills and offers superb views of the mountain peaks, which are covered by snow most of the year. On warm days, the restaurant opens its outdoor deck so visitors can enjoy lunch by a lake. The wines here (try the white torrontes and the malbec), are outstanding and can be paired with dishes from a menu that features the likes of poached trout with olive oil and baked potato; and twice-cooked osso buco on polenta cream and rosemary. Grape-infused sorbet makes for an appropriate ending to your meal. Lunch costs around $68.
Malma, San Patricio del Chanar, Neuquen, Patagonia
Malma is the showcase restaurant of the wine group that owns both Bodega del Fin del Mundo and the high-tech NQN winery in the rapidly emerging, but remote, cool-climate wine region of Patagonia. Guests can choose from lighter meals (a selection of delicious empanadas, and a salad maybe), or chef Pablo Buzzo's Patagonian rainbow trout with oven-baked vegetables, or rolled local lamb with roast potatoes. The restaurant overlooks 127 hectares of vines (and some dramatic metal sculptures), and there is an on-site guest house, Posada NQN, for those wishing to spend some time in this rural district (even the regional capital of Neuquen is a sleepy place). Main courses from $15-25.
Floreria Atlantico, Buenos Aires
From the outside, Floreria Atlanticolooks like a busy flower shop that also sells wine. But the people milling around are not wanting to buy flowers, they are waiting to be admitted down a set of stairs to one of the most popular cocktail and wine bars in the capital – an after-work hangout for chefs and hospitality workers that is open until 4am at weekends. In addition to Argentine tapas (think dishes like barbecued kidneys cooked over firewood, frog's legs, morcilla sausages and char-grilled octopus), are huge steaks on the parrillada and patrons drinking shots and colourful cocktails (the local specialities are listed as "criollos"). This basement speakeasy is long, narrow – and extremely vibrant. The later it gets the busier it becomes. Floreria Atlantico was named among the world's top 50 bars for 2015. Main courses $20-30; tapas from $10.
Eating out in Mendoza
Mendoza is Argentina's wine capital, the birthplace of the malbec revival and a lively destination until the small hours. The best, and very expensive, restaurant in town is Francis Mallmann 1884 (Mallmann is billed as South America's most famous chef) at the Escorihuela Gascon winery in suburban Godoy Cruz, a 10-minute drive from the city. But the liveliest scene, with dozens of grill restaurants, bars and cafes, is on Avenida Aristides Villanueva, where the city's young and young at heart enjoy the outdoor seating and slabs of meat at restaurants like the always popular El Palenque. In summer, the crowds are huge as the locals sample the latest vintages and tuck into asados(barbecues), lomos (cheesy steak sandwiches), American-style bars and a variety of ethnic dishes from Peruvian to Middle Eastern.
Clos de Los Siete, Uco Valley
The Uco Valley is the new frontier of Argentina wine regions, a cool-climate area dramatically situated in the foothills of the Andes. The region sits almost 1200 metres above sea level and the Chilean capital of Santiago is nearby – albeit on the other side of the towering mountains. This remote complex, around a 90-minute drive from Mendoza, is home to several French-owned wineries and was the brainchild of French wine consultant Michel Rolland. Each of the wineries (reached via an extremely bumpy dirt road), makes its own wines and also contributes fruit to the over-arching Clos de Los Siete brand. The estate covers 847 hectares and features the cellars of Monteviejo, Cuvelier de los Andes, Bodegas Rolland and Bodegas DiamAndes, with free tastings, spectacular cellar, wine bar and wine shop.
Uco Restaurant, Hotel Fierro, Buenos Aires
Take an Irish chef, home-made ingredients and a garden setting in one of Buenos Aires' most funky boutique hotels and you have the unique ambience of Uco, a new eatery that is drawing sellout crowds to the Palermo Hollywood quarter of the Argentine capital. It is named after one of the wine districts in the Mendoza region and has a wine list curated by Andres Rosberg, one of Argentina's leading sommeliers. The food here is thoroughly modern. Chef Ed Holloway serves up dishes like ceviche-style salmon carpaccio with crispy fried plantain and mango salad, or perhaps crispy-skinned suckling pig with roast butternut puree and pickled vegetables, or maybe an 18-hour-cooked shoulder of Patagonian lamb. At dinner a seven-course degustation menu is on offer for $68, and each course can be paired to an Argentine wine.
The writer was a guest of Wines of Argentina.