I love the wines of Mendoza, Argentina, but I wanted to marry the wines of Catena Zapata when I had the chance to drink them whilst overlooking the green vineyards backdropped by the soaring, snowcapped Andes peaks. The wines of Catena are mostly big reds made from malbec or cabernet, and they make some chardonnay and sauvignon blanc as well. The winery is fashioned after a stepped Maya pyramid and is furnished with state of the art equipment. Wine tours last about an hour and a half and finish at the tasting room, where you can purchase bottles of wine. Catena Zapata and the rest of the Mendoza region wineries are only open by appointment, so be sure to have a day's worth of wine tours booked in advance for your itinerary. Be sure not to skip over the city of Mendoza, as there are many wine tasting rooms featuring wines from the region and selling limited releases and other rarities not readily available at the wineries.
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Wine collectors worldwide will recognize this sight: preparation for a wine tasting. There are events worldwide that offer similar setups for those with more than just a passing interest in the world of fine wines. This photo was taken at Catena-Zapata in Mendoza and was the setup for wine tasting by a group of wine writers and buyers. Sadly for those who look to drink, this kind of wine tasting is for spitting, not drinking.... However, take heart, they will sell you drinking tastes in the tasting room and also bottles to take home.
This fabulously opulent Inca/Maya pyramid-shaped winery could easily serve as the set for a Bond villain's hideout. Catena-Zapata also offers wonderful wines to taste and an excellent tour of the winemaking facility. A leader in the Argentine wine industry Nicholas Catena (Dr. Nicholas as he is referred to there) has used advanced vineyard techniques (example: drip irrigation) even before others saw the incredible opportunities for winemaking at elevation in an area of scant rainfall. Today the Mendoza area offers world class wines and gourmet dining along with spectacular scenery. We loved Azafran and also Club Tapiz (a bit out of town), and for a high-end destination hotel location try Cavas Wine Lodge where you stay in your own casita, each with a plunge pool and outdoor shower.