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Few restaurants in Mendoza have picked up a cult following quite as quickly as Casa Vigil did. Within a year of opening, the restaurant had become one of the top listings on Trip Advisor - pipping hundreds of other restaurants to the post.
What is so special about the experience of Casa Vigil, you might ask. The answer is there in the name - Casa Vigil literally means the House of Vigil, and Vigil happens to refer to one of Argentina’s most respected winemakers, Alejandro Vigil. The tables here book up well in advance as wine lovers congregate from all over the globe in order to enjoy an intimate experience of Alejandro Vigil’s El Enemigo wines and dine in his home restaurant in the vine garden next to his boutique winery. With this in mind, the Mendoza jury awarded Casa Vigil a regional ‘Best Of Wine Tourism’ award for a wine tourism restaurant.
A 30 minute drive from Mendoza city, the winery is set in the middle of Vigil’s private property and vineyard in Maipu with views of the snowy Andes in the distance. Most visits will start with a guided tour of the El Enemigo winery which is modest in size but not in style. Specially commissioned artworks adorn the walls, ceilings and floors in this colourful and eccentric bodega which takes its inspiration from literature, music and art through the ages. Cement eggs, steel tanks and oak barrels remind you that this is also a space for making wines - which you’ll be within moments of tasting.
Vigil is best known as the winemaker at one of Argentina’s most influential brands, Catena Zapata, which he has been making since 2002. El Enemigo however is his personal wine project with one of the Catena children - Adrianna Catena. Since 2002 they have been making a series of single vineyard Malbec, Cabernet Franc, Bonarda and Chardonnay wines, to great critical acclaim.
A visit to Casa Vigil is an unparalleled opportunity to taste these wines, and in the context of modern Argentine cuisine. The bustling kitchen serves up steaming plates of traditional Argentine food with a modern twist - where hearty empanadas and juicy ribeye steak meet chilled beetroot gazpacho and vines leaves stuffed with blood sausage.
With a team of chefs and sommeliers, you are in good hands for the food and wine service but the highlight for most people visiting Casa Vigil is the chance to have Vigil himself pop over to the table and say hello, pouring his wines and giving you a warm welcome into his home.
Written by Amanda Barnes
Photo credits: Casa Vigil website