If a trip to Mendoza, Argentina, is in your future, make sure to save an afternoon for a visit to the delightful Lagarde, a family-run, mid-size winery that dates back to 1897. You’ll learn there that not all malbec, Argentina’s main red grape, is created equal, and that a chef hunched over a fire pit in the center of a courtyard makes one mean, gourmet, four-course meal.
This little oasis is located in the shadow of the Andes in the Upper Mendoza River region. Its lush natural setting alone is breathtaking, but when you stroll through the winery, remnants of original equipment remain in the field, reminding you of a simpler era.
The historic vibe extends to the wine as well. During an excavation in the 1970s, the family unearthed a large cask of 1942 semillon. They tasted it and it was in perfect condition, so they bottled it in the 1990s, after 50 years in oak. It’s won many international awards and is described as tasting like sherry. The winery’s sparking wine is made from pinot noir using the champagne method and each bottle is corked by hand, one at a time.
All grapes at Lagarde are estate-grown and the winery produces 40,000 cases per year. There are many varietals produced, but their series of malbecs is what they’re most known for. A special tasting revealed a varied selection of malbec all tasting very different depending on altitude, vine age, and aging process.
LAGARDE Primera Vinas Malbec 2009 (Mendoza, Argentina) $28
Aged in new oak, this luxury wine is one of Lagarde more elegant offerings. The grapes are grown on the estate’s oldest vines, creating a velvety, complex malbec, rich with character.
LAGARDE Henry Malbec 2010 (Mendoza, Argentina) $25
This typical Argentine malbec has hints of smoke, flavors of blackberry, and a long finish. It’s full-bodied enough to hold up to beef or a meaty red sauce on pasta.
LAGARDE Atlas Cumbres Malbec 2012 (Mendoza, Argentina) $12
Fruity and easy to drink, this is Lagarde’s starter malbec. With a hip label and a good price, this friendly wine is great to serve at a party or as an after-work before-dinner glass alone.
If you can’t get to Argentina, no worries. You can order many of Lagarde’s wines in the United States. We’ve also attached an empanada recipe and one for steak with Argentine flair so you can experience Mendoza at home.