While Mendoza's closed door dining scene has just started to take shape over the last couple of years, the real Argentine underground restaurant scene has been happening in Buenos Aires for over the last decade. One of the pioneers and long-standing favorites in Buenos Aires is Casa Coupage, a wine bar and restaurant opened by two sommeliers who just wanted to share great wine with like-minded wine lovers.
One of the creators of Casa Coupage in Palermo is Ines Mendieta, who earlier this year moved to Mendoza with her Italian fiancee and chef to start a second Casa Coupage - this time in Mendoza's Maipu region.
The concept at the heart of Casa Coupage is that it is a closed door restaurant owned and run by sommeliers, so wine is at the very centre of the experience. As well as a tasting menu for food, there is a tasting menu for wine. Now that's the sort of restaurant you want in Mendoza!
You can opt for the five course tasting menu (or a la carte) to dine on, and you can either order by the bottle or by the flight - with options of 3, 5 or 7 wines. Of course, dining and wine-ing with 7 different different labels is the best option for wine lovers and Ines - who exudes a passion for wine - helps you navigate your way through the different regions, varieties and styles of Argentine wine on offer.
Our tasting meal kicked off with a warming leek soup with salty Sardo cheese and a poached egg, the creamy combination of flavors was a delight with a buttery oaked Chardonnay from Lujan de Cuyo, although it was equaliy interesting with the other wine on our place setting - a bright and fresh Riesling from the Uco Valley.
Rich braised beef with with earthy brussel sprouts and cauliflower puree was fabulous washed down with a complex red blend from La Consulta and left a mini explosion of flavor in the mouth. The wine also went fantastically with a blue cheese and chocolate dessert with juicy pear and a crunchy meringue. But we were also tempted by pairing it with the sweet dessert wine from Maipu.
Whatever your favorite (of the seven wines we tried that night, me and my dining partner had a different favorite for each course) Casa Coupage is a chance to play with the pairings and have fun with wine. This restaurant experience offers you an eclectic mix of flavors and textures, which you can tuck into while pairing them with the many different wines on offer. As Casa Coupage proves, variety really is the spice of life.
Casa Coupage is located in a historical winery in Maipu and open Tues - Sat lunch, and Fri & Sat nights. For more information visit https://www.facebook.com/reservascasacoupagemendoza
Amanda Barnes is a British wine writer living in Mendoza and constantly playing with the different flavours on offer from the all the different corners of Argentina's wine game. You can read more articles at www.amandabarnes.co.uk