Founded by an Englishman in 1895 and owned since 1989 by the Austrian family best known as the gatekeepers of the glittery Swarovski crystal empire, the wines of Bodega Norton are absolutely Argentine. In 2012, Bodega Norton's chief winemaker Jorge Riccitelli, a native of Mendoza, was recognized by Wine Enthusiast as "Winemaker of the Year" and made history as the first South American to receive this prestigious honor. One of the most important estates in Mendoza, at 120 years old Bodega Norton has an impressive past but their present and future is even brighter.
Any visit to Mendoza must include a visit to Norton - the estate is stunning and the wines are impressive. Their award-winning programs for visitors include guided tastings, bike tours, winemaker for the day, junior winemaker for the day for the little ones, cooking classes, harvesting, photographic safaris, and much more.
Upon arrival at Norton, guests are greeted with a refreshing glass of their sparkling white wine Cosecha Especial - a vivacious bubbly Chardonnay that is poured from a unique bell-shaped bottle.
Alvaro Agüero, sommelier at Bodega Norton and the Chief of Tourism Development, was my guide for the day. Alvaro's knowledge and enthusiasm made my visit immensely enjoyable - it was hard to say goodbye. He was a fountain of knowledge and kept the wine flowing!
In addition to the gorgeous vineyards, the cellars of Bodega Norton are a world unto themselves. With winding halls and intimate nooks to sip your wine, it is a subterranean oasis.
If you're not familiar with Bodega Norton, Privada 2012 ($26) is a very special selection. Rated 93 points by Wine Spectator, Privada is a beautiful Bordeaux style blend of Malbec, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon that was once reserved for the Swarovski family's private cellar. I also recommend giving the 2012 Reserva Malbec ($18.99) a swirl - rated 90 points by Wine Spectator, it is expressive, earthy and elegant.
For a truly gourmet food & wine experience, be sure to dine at Bodega Norton's restaurant La Vid. I ate many delicious empanadas during my visit to Mendoza but the ones at La Vid were the best by far.