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Mendoza sweeps up Michelin stars

In the very first edition of the Michelin Guide in Argentina, Mendoza took home four of the six stars in an awards ceremony last week firmly placing the wine region at the top of any gastronome’s bucket list of places to visit.

Two restaurants in Buenos Aires were also awarded Michelin stars, while Aramburo, also in the capital, was the clear star of the night — receiving the coveted (and only) two Michelin star status.

Earlier this year Argentina invested $620,000 USD in order to bring the guide and its inspectors to Argentina, where they have been anonymously visiting and judging restaurants in the capital city and wine region of Mendoza over the past few months.

The announcement of the stars is a particularly impressive feat for Mendoza, whose 2 million population pales in comparison to Buenos Aires’ 15.5 million population. The one Michelin star awards went to Azafrán in Mendoza city, Brindillas in Chacras, and the restaurants of two wineries — Casa Vigil at Alejandro Vigil’s winery and Zonda Cocina de Paisaje at Lagarde winery.

In Buenos Aires, famous steak house Don Julio and renowned contemporary restaurant Trescha also took the honours of one Michelin star.

Seven green stars were awarded, to restaurants for impressive sustainability credentials, which also included the winery restaurants of Casa Vigil, Riccitelli Bistro and Zonda Cocina de Paisaje.

“I think the most important impact for Mendoza is socio-economic and cultural,” summarised winemaker Alejandro Vigil, President of Wines of Argentina and awarded a Michelin star for his winery restaurant, Casa Vigil. “It was something we never believed could have happened before, but today we have a really high level of gastronomy which has been pushed by the quality of tourism that we have.

“In Mendoza, we have a very demanding public, which has kept increasing our standards day by day. Our restaurants are a starting point for people to get to see and taste the really great diversity of wines we have here due to our mountain geography. We hope that more gastrotourists and foodies will visit and get to know Mendoza as a result [of the Michelin guide].”

A further 57 restaurants were recommended (42 in Buenos Aires and 15 in Mendoza) and included the restaurants of the wineries of: Durigutti, Bodega Los Toneles, Catena Zapata, Trapiche, Susana Balbo, Zuccardi, Achaval Ferrer, Renacer, Ruca Malen and Lagarde (in a double coup on the night!)

Despite the crippling inflation in the country, Argentina’s tourism has been booming due to the cheap dollar to peso exchange rate. On the blue (black market) rate, a 9-course wine paired meal at Zonda Cocina de Paisaje — now a Michelin star restaurant — will set you back less than £50 per person.

Amanda Barnes is db’s South America correspondent and author of  The South America Wine Guide.

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