In Mendoza, 2022 is coming to an end with major news for the local wine scene: Catena Zapata has finally opened Angélica Cocina Maestra, its first restaurant in Agrelo (Luján de Cuyo, Mendoza). The restaurant is on the same estate as Catena Zapata’s iconic Mayan pyramid-shaped winery and one of its most treasured Malbec vineyards.
Angélica Cocina Maestra, a wine-focused restaurant
‘At Angélica the most important items on the menu are the wines, and our dishes are designed to be paired with them. So for us, the “chefs” are my father, Nicolás Catena, Alejandro Vigil, our head winemaker, and myself,’ said Laura Catena, a member of the fourth generation of the winemaking family and currently the director of the winery.
A visit to Angélica is an experience in which diners are invited to enjoy a very special moment in the Catena Zapata universe.
To bring the new project to life, a specially designated space had to be constructed, with the work taking three years. The building recreates a traditional Italian borgo village to pay homage to the Catena family’s roots. The name honours the mother of Nicolás Catena, a renowned winemaker who was named Decanter’s Man of the Year in 2009 for his revolutionary contributions to viticulture in Argentina.
The visit starts at a gallery leading into the underground distillery where guests can enjoy a glass of Vincenzo, the winery’s vermouth rosso with an apero pairing.
The tour continues with a visit to the village’s tower, which provides a 360-degree view of the vineyards and pyramid. Diners then arrive at the main dining hall, which has a capacity of just 38 in a simply designed environment with ample views of the vineyards.
The tables are spacious with comfortable armchairs and are laid with Riedel glassware and tableware from leading brands and local artisans.
As Laura Catena says, rather than focusing on food, diners choose from among a set of wine flights prepared by the family, the winemaker and the sommeliers. There are five wine flights designed to encompass the entirety of the Catena Zapata universe: Angélica, Domingo Vicente, Famiglia Unita, Sugerido and Paseo por Catena. They are complemented by the exclusive ‘Stairway to Heaven’ experience, a vertical tasting of seven wines from vintages between 2006 and 2013 of Estiba Reservada, the winery’s top wine.
There is also a full, carefully thought-out list of Catena Zapata wines by the bottle or glass for those who prefer this option to the flights.
The food, meanwhile, is prepared under familial supervision by the kitchen team at Casa Vigil – Alejandro Vigil’s personal restaurant – which is led by Maxi Mastrangelo and Mendoza chef Iván Azar.
The ten-course tasting menu – which has vegan and gluten free options – is designed to celebrate Catena Zapata’s wines and features local, seasonal products, some of which come from the organic vegetable garden just a few feet away.
Although for the moment the restaurant is only open for lunch with its 10-course tasting menu, over the next few months it will be offering picnics in the vineyard, tapas in the village square and fine dining.
There is no doubt that Angélica will immediately become an essential restaurant to visit in Mendoza, where the thriving gastronomic scene welcomes visitors to Argentine wine country from all across the world.