Miravida Soho – A Boutique Hotel for Wine Lovers

If you look at the hotel reviews for Buenos Aires on Trip Advisor, the #1 hotel is the stunning 5-star Alvear Palace, which runs about $400 a night.

Guess what #2 is? An innocuous 6-room hotel in the fashionable Palermo Soho neighborhood, with rooms in the mid $100s.

MiravidaSoho

Having stayed there twice, I’m here to tell you: Miravida Soho is the real deal. The location is perfect. The rooms are comfortable. And the staff – maybe the best of any boutique hotel I’ve ever stayed in, worldwide. They simply can’t do enough for you.

courtyard2

IMG_3057

When I had difficulties changing a LAN Airlines flight, the front desk manager Pamela (who also served my delicious breakfasts in the morning) spent 1 HOUR on the phone with LAN, helping me get through all the Spanish language menus to make the change. We’re talking 6-star service. They were more than happy to let me store a piece of wine luggage while I spent five nights in Mendoza.

courtyard

The back courtyard, where breakfast is served on sunny mornings, is elegant and quiet.

And because the hotel has its own wine bar, the evening dynamic is much friendlier than at more soulless hotels. They’ll happily pour you a glass of first-rate vino at the end of your evening – whether that’s 10 PM or 4 am.

IMG_3058

And it’s wine you’d actually want to drink – from Tacuil, the highest vineyard in the world, to Bramare from Vina Cobos. It’s rare to find good wines by the glass in a hotel setting in B.A – especially at reasonable prices.

In a city with occasional security concerns like Buenos Aires, there’s much to be said for enjoying a nightcap in the safety of your very secure hotel, with fellow travelers who are eager to share stories and tips. And the hotel employees are right there in the conversation, just like your favorite bartender. I enjoyed every evening at the wine bar.

Miravida Soho’s staff quickly become newfound friends. The hotel has recently undergone a change in ownership, but the entire staff remains the same. Ale, Taunya,  Pamela, Felipe, Gabriel, Omar and Roberto – I loved them all, and look forward to returning next trip.

Patience is a virtue, yes?

Patience is a virtue, yes? Rearranging our wine coolers this morning. Here are a few favorite bottles we’ve put away for aging, all 2004-2009 vintages. Need to go back and look at Robert Parker reviews to check the recommended years for enjoying these, but in most cases they should benefit from more time in the bottle.

BottlesForAging

What a week!

Thanks to The Vines of Mendoza, Bodega O. Fournier, Park Hyatt, Grupo Clos de los Siete, Lares de Chacras, Bodega El Enemigo, Vina Cobos, Luca Wines, Mendel Wines, Bodega La Azul – Tupungato – Valle De Uco – Mendoza, Bodega Altocedro · La Consulta Mendoza Argentina, and Miravida Soho Hotel & Wine Bar, Buenos Aires for giving their time, their hospitality and their expertise. 

In the coming weeks we’ll be sharing our trip in much greater detail, with photos, video and more. Here are just a few highlights from our trip.

   
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
 

Alfa Crux – Getting reacquainted with an old friend.

4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)

Alfa Crux Malbec

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Alfa Crux Blend

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Beta Crux Blend

Alfa Crux was one of the first wines I fell love with in restaurants visiting Buenos Aires. An unapologetically big, bold, New World red, it was always located near the top of wine lists, and once we tasted it we were hooked.

An even bigger treat was visiting the winery, O. Fournier, on my first trip to Mendoza. It is a stunning, futuristic, gravity-driven winery that has you half thinking the Martians have landed alongside the Andes. It is as beautiful and iconic as the wine itself.


Located inside the winery is the restaurant Urban, helmed by Ortega Gil-Fournier’s wife Nadia. Hoping to eat there on this trip, because I loved her other restaurant, Nadia O.F., when it was located in Chacras de Coria.

Last week I had old friends over to my loft, and as usual, had been extolling the virtues of high-end Argentine wine. I thought of the perfect bottle to pull out.

An old friend, for old friends.


As usual, they were blown away.

Alfa Crux is available in a 100% Malbec and a red blend. Both are stunning. In fact, in a side-by-side tasting at Nadia O.F., I was hard pressed to pick a favorite.

Further down the price chain is their second tier red blend, Beta Crux, which is also delicious for its price point. Expect to pay just over $40 for Alfa Crux in the States, and keep an eye out for Beta Crux in stores like Costco for under $20 from time to time.


 

 

Superb $18 deal on Colomé Estate Malbec

 

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Colomé Estate Malbec 2010

The best bottle of South American wine you can usually pick up at Whole Foods Market is Colomé Estate Malbec. Owned by the Hess family and sourced from a desert vineyard in Salta, it’s one of my absolute favorites. There’s an elegance to this wine that belies its mid-$20s price.

However, the Whole Foods price of $28 is a terrible value. It’s why I tell people only to buy it during the store’s 20% off sale, when it drops to around $23.

But if you live in a US state that can receive mail-order wine, Ultimate Wine Shop is offering a much better deal. $17.99! With free shipping if you order 4 bottles.

colome1-746x1000

As a reminder, I don’t sell wine, and I don’t get any kind of financial incentive from the wines I recommend. I figure if I turn you on to great wines at great prices, the karma will come back to me eventually. A world where people are buying less Cigar Box and Diseno is a world I want to live in. If you like what I’m doing, maybe you’ll buy me a bottle sometime.

Can we just talk about Catena for a minute?

IMG_2958

 

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Catena Malbec 2012

I mean, regular Catena. Not Catena Alta or Catena Zapata Malbec Argentino or Angelica Zapata or Nicolas Catena Zapata or the other more exotic wines I tend to wax poetically about.

Good old Catena Malbec. The one that is probably on your supermarket shelf for $22. (Unless you’re at Whole Foods Market where it will be a silly $26). The same Catena that you can get for $17 at Costco if you remember to pick some up.

The story has already been far better told by others of how Nicolas Catena transformed Argentine winemaking, so I won’t repeat that here.

I feel like my job on this blog is to make you look beyond the obvious choices. But seriously, if you find this for under $20, Catena Malbec IS the obvious choice. I just opened a bottle, at the proper temperature, used an aerator, and holy crap, this stuff is good. Not just acceptable, but delicious.

I’ve read columns from Luis Gutierrez and other wine experts who say Catena continues to make their whole line better and better. And tonight’s bottle reminds me this is true.

Yes, they have an empire. Yes, they even collaborate with Gallo on a high-distribution wine now. Yes, they have alliances with Rothschild and others. But you have to give credit to a company that despite growth, hasn’t taken their eye off the ball.

To me, Houston’s (maybe Hillstone in your city) is the most reliable, high-quality restaurant chain you can walk into. Everything is going to be good, every time, whether you’re in Atlanta, New York, Boston, or Santa Monica. You just know it’s going to be delicious. And that confidence, adds value. Well, Catena just might be the Houston’s of wine makers. And that is a compliment in my book.

Robert Parker’s 2015 Argentina Wine Guide is out!

We know what we’ll be reading over Sunday morning coffee.

The annual Argentina wine review from Robert Parker is out!

This vast and comprehensive article, written by Luis Gutierrez (who has been doing a great job the last two years as the Argentina reviewer), is as far as we’re concerned, the most important piece of wine journalism this year.

We encourage you to subscribe at eRobertParker.com, or subscribe to Wine Advocate magazine, but we’ll be sure to share a few key highlights here…

Store Check: Joe’s Wines & Liquor, Memphis, TN

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

joewswinesign

A family event brought us through Memphis, Tennessee one recent weekend, and a group dinner at Felicia Suzanne called for one special bottle of Malbec. But where to buy?

Quench, across from the Peabody Hotel, had a couple of decent mid-range Argentine reds, but nothing to write home about. A phone call to another recommended store, The Corkscrew, revealed little more than the same.

Time to consult Yelp, which revealed Joe’s Wines & Liquor, 10 minutes away in Midtown. A phone call quickly revealed this store was worth a visit.

IMG_1760

First of all, you have to love the retro Sputnik signage – your first clue this place is a cut above. And the Argentine red selection was very nice. While including the usual suspects like Achaval Ferrer Malbec, the always-delicious Luigi Bosca D.O.C., and Catena Alta, this proved the perfect place to explore the Terroir Series from Traphiche. These wines are designed to showcase very specific microclimates and soil.

FincaAmbrosia

Our choice was the Robert Parker 94-rated Trapiche Terroir Series Finca Ambrosia, 4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5) which sources from Gualtallary. It was a big, bold and powerful New World red that demanded a good steak and at least a half hour of decanting. Honestly, I still found it opening up almost an hour after the cork came out.

At dinner, the wine accomplished its goal – which was to share with new friends the incredible artistry, story, taste and value of today’s Argentine malbecs. We can’t wait to try another bottle in the Terroir Series.

JoesInterior

Oh, and back to Joe’s. They have a super-friendly, knowledgable staff who is eager to share what they learned, and for you beer drinkers out there, a fantastic growler station which sells growlers as well as customized cans of draft with their own distinctive labels. I would characterize the wine prices as $3-5 higher than you might find at a Costco, but the convenience and expertise make Joe’s a very worthwhile visit indeed.

joesgrowlerstation

 

95 Points! A huge score for an affordable Malbec.

tapiz-alta-malbec-l

Congratulations to Tapiz for scoring an extremely impressive 95 points from James Suckling for their 2013 Alta Collection Malbec.

Tapiz used to be a great place to eat lunch in Mendoza, but not a place you would detour to for the wine. But new winemakers and a motivated team have clearly led to something special here.

Tapiz Alta Collection is widely distributed in the States, and you can often find it under $20. I would grab a bottle of this quick, before the score inflates the price. Check with Costco, who often has had this in stock.