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Experience – Bodega Salentein – Valle de Uco, Mendoza, Argentina.

Nestled in the remote upper region of Argentina’s Uco Valley on the eastern slopes of the Andes, Bodegas Salentein produces one of the most famous collections of wine from vineyards planted at some of the highest elevations on the planet. Located 55 miles south of the bustling city of Mendoza, Argentina’s winemaking capital, Bodegas Salentein has started to forge an international reputation for its fine wines.

Established in the late 1990s, Salentein is a privately-owned estate of almost 5,000 acres, of which 1,124 acres are planted to vine. The property includes a world-class winery and cellars, a 125-acre nature preserve, the showpiece Killka Center for Culture and the Arts, a nearby lodge (Posada Salentein), and the landmark Chapel of Gratitude, built using ancient local stonework techniques.

The vineyard’s plantings are approximately 80% red (Malbec, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Pinot Noir, Tempranillo, Cabernet Franc) and 20% white (Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc). Vines range from two to 32 years in age. Vineyards are located between 1,050 and 1,700 meters (3,445-5,577 feet) a.s.l. At this altitude and in this desert environment, long hot days and much cooler nighttime temperatures lead to longer hang-time for grapes, enhancing the balance between sugars and acidity. This is an especially healthy environment in which to grow top quality fruit. Drip irrigation using mountain water run-off from melting snowcaps is employed throughout the Salentein vineyards.

All the Salentein facilities have been built using local materials and incorporating architectural and design features produced by local craftsmen. The Salentein winery was designed by the leading Mendoza architectural firm of Bormida &Yanzon. Built in the shape of a cruciform (cross) around a central chamber, each wing houses a single, self-contained bodega, on two levels. Stainless steel tanks and French wood vats for fermentation and storage are housed on the ground level. The floor below contains underground cellars for aging in oak casks. Wine flows from tank to barrel via a traditional gravity-transfer system.

A tasting room is also housed at the underground level, equipped with three large tables of travertine marble, each weighing over two tons, obtained from a local quarry. In 2002 Bodegas Salentein won the prestigious Prism International Commercial Award of Merit. Presented annually to a single building by the international stone industry, the award celebrates the creative use of natural stone in the construction of modern commercial buildings.

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