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Argentine Wine Feast – Seven Courses

September 7, 2011 - by Joe and Janelle

Our next stop on our Mendoza wine tour is the Posada Salentein, a wine lodge owned by the Bodega Salentein, located in the Valle de Uco. The Valle de Uco or Uco Valley is located in the foothills of the Andes Mountains, some 90 Kilometers south of our last stop, Club Tapiz. The elevation here ranges from 1000 to 1700 meters. The Uco Valley represents the new frontier of Argentine wines. It is here that wineries have sprouted up since the year 2000. These new wineries are taking advantage of the higher altitudes to plant Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Sauvignon Blanc. These are varietals that have not been very successful in other regions of Argentina. One of these new wineries in the Uco Valley is Bodega Salentein.

We enter the Bodega Salentein gate (to visit wineries in Argentina you must have an appointment; otherwise you don’t get through the guarded gate) and travel up a gravel road for three kilometers to the lodge. We drive past beautiful vineyards with the spectacular snowcapped Andes in the background. As we park our car, we are greeted by a receptionist who tells us our bags will be taken to our rooms and for us to follow her to the outdoor lounge. “Would you like a glass of our Chardonnay Reserve?”, she asks. We knew at that point this was going to be a very special place.

For three days we feasted on delicious meals and the wines of Bodega Salentein, all included for our stay of $290 per night. On our last day, we are invited to a special lunch at the Posada, a typical Argentine feast that an employee of Salentein has arranged for his family.

The preparations begin early for the 2 pm luncheon. Fires are started in the outdoor stone oven and the stone barbeque grill rack. Two chefs begin the preparations in the kitchen. First in the oven is the bread that will bake for some two hours. As the bread bakes, the chef hangs a side of beef ribs on the rack of the BBQ. The side of beef will cook slowly for at least four hours. In the meantime while the chefs prepare and cook, we will leave to take a guided tour and wine tasting at the Bodega Salentein.

Upon our return we are just in time to feast. The lunch begins with a series of appetizers or small plates. First, a tomato, onion and herb mixture cooked with eggs much like an omelet and served on small slices of the freshly baked bread. This is followed by a small skewer of chorizo that is placed in a small glass filled with a salsa mixture. The third course is sweetbreads that we rarely eat but we cannot pass on. They are delicious. The sweetbreads are served with a mixture of onions and olive oil. Sauted chicken pieces and beef-filled empanadas from the stone oven follow. All this time, of course, the wine is flowing.

As we finished the empanadas the chefs filled a buffet table with assorted dishes of freshly grilled vegetables. Now is it time for the main entre, the beef ribs. These are very tender ribs, slow cooked to perfection. This all goes very well with the full-bodied Bodega Salentein Reserve Malbec.

Dessert is flan presented with a flare as you can see from the photograph. It is served with a sparkling wine that is just slightly sweet. The chefs are very proud and happy that we love their meal. They keep asking if we would like more. At this point, we are stuffed and the last thing we want to think about is food. As we leave it is 4:30 in the afternoon. Our chef who cooks the evening meal says goodbye and says “see you tonight for dinner.” How could we say no?

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