Marcelo Pelleriti was the first South American winemaker ever to score the coveted perfect 100 points from Robert Parker. One of the few cross-continental winemakers in South America, Pelleriti has been making wine each vintage since 2001 in Mendoza, Argentina (under the labels Bodega Monteviejo and Marcelo Pelleriti Wines), and Bordeaux, France (under the Château Le Gay and Château La Violette labels).
When he isn’t making wine, Pelleriti is usually playing rock on his guitar—an obsession that inspired him to create Argentina’s first wine and rock festival in the vineyards of the Monteviejo winery in the Uco Valley. The festival showcases Argentina’s top musical and winemaking talent each April. It turns out that many of Argentina’s performing artists share Pelleriti’s entwined love of music and wine, and today Pelleriti makes a collection of wines with renowned Argentine musicians, including Pedro Aznar, Felipe Staiti, Juanchi Baleiron, Coti, Rano Sarbach, and Jaime Torres. When he isn’t traveling between continents for harvests and rock festivals, Pelleriti can frequently be found in Buenos Aires at the winery’s recently opened Teatro Monteviejo in Abasto (Lavalle 3177), which hosts concerts and performances almost daily.
Pelleriti shares his insider tips on discovering one of South America’s great cultural and gastronomic capitals:
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Buenos Aires is served by two major airports: Ministro Pistarini (EZE), a major hub for long- and short-haul international flights, and domestic airport Aeroparque (AEP). The main bus station is right in the city center, in Retiro, and provides access to national and international routes. Cruise ships also pass through the port of Buenos Aires, and there’s a regular ferry crossing to Uruguay.
Where to Stay
“If I had to pick just a couple of places to stay,” says Pelleriti, “I’d pick these three hotels—not only because of their quality but also because the owners are friends and great references in the wine world.” His first choice is the Park Hyatt Palacio Duhau (Avenida Alvear 1661), which is centrally located between the Retiro and Recoleta neighborhoods and occupies a Tudor revival mansion. Another favorite is Faena (Martha Salotti 445) in Puerto Madero, which Pelleriti rates highly for its stunning interior design, intimate performance venue, and top restaurants. Pelleriti also recommends the boutique Fierro Hotel (Soler 5862) for anyone wanting to explore the city from the heart of Palermo.
Where to Eat and Drink
Buenos Aires is called a 24-hour city for a reason. Don’t expect to see any locals sit down to dinner before 10 pm or hit a bar before midnight. For great spots to eat out, Pelleriti says there is ample choice. “It’s hard to recommend just a few,” he says, “because Argentine gastronomy is getting better and better each day, but there are some that immediately come to mind.”
“One of the real standout parillas (typical Argentine BBQ/steakhouses) is Don Julio,” says Pelleriti. This is one of the city’s most legendary meat establishments—“the entraña (skirt steak) is incredible,” he enthuses—but Pelleriti also recommends it for the wine: “They have created a wine list with special back vintages.” Guatemala 4699.
“This is a really beautiful space, where you eat well,” Pelleriti says of this upmarket Argentine restaurant on the river Plata. Restaurante Gardiner is slightly out of town in a peaceful area and is conveniently close to the airport, which Pelleriti says is useful for a flying visit to the capital. The wine list also happens to be excellent. Costanera Norte/Avenida Rafael Obligado 6311.
This modern restaurant is also at the top of Pelleriti’s list of great places to eat in the city. iLatina is known for its seven-course tasting menu, which takes you through a whirlwind of South American flavors, embracing cuisines from all over the continent. Murillo 725.
“There are some excellent bars in Buenos Aires today of world-class quality,” says Pelleriti, and Pony Line is one of them. Tucked into the Four Seasons hotel, this lounge-bar is chock-full at the weekends, as well-heeled porteños pour in for the great cocktails and DJ sessions. Posadas 1086.
The secret is out on this hidden bar in Retiro: Walk through a florist and wine shop to the back door, which seems like the door of a massive refrigerator, to reach the slim bar underground. Pelleriti recommends Floreria Atlantico for its unique style and smart cocktails, which include mate-infused G&T’s and a smoked-honey Calvados fizz. Arroyo 882.
Frank’s Moments & Drinks Co.
Pelleriti recommends imbibing at Frank’s, another speakeasy, in the company of the “awesome team of bartenders, who will never let you down.” It’s a bit harder to find, in a more residential part of town, but Pelleriti says Frank’s is worth seeking out for its 1920s vibe and excellent mixology. You’ll need the secret code to get in. (Hint: It’s on the bar’s Facebook page.) Arévalo 1443.
Gran Bar Danzon
Gran Bar Danzon is one of the grandes dames of the Buenos Aires bar scene, and Pelleriti recommends it as a beautiful way to experience wine and cocktails in a handsome Old World setting. Known for its creative cocktails—like the Sushi Mary, its take on a Bloody Mary, which is served with sake, wasabi, and a sushi roll—and tasty bar snacks. This is an institution in the Tribunales neighborhood. Libertad 1161.
Places to Visit
“Buenos Aires has so many different places to visit, depending on your own interests, but there are some places that everyone should visit,” says Pelleriti. At the top of his list of unmissable sites is the Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires, or MALBA (Avenida Presidente Figueroa Alcorta 3415). With rotating exhibits from artists all over Latin America, MALBA is one of the top art museums in South America and hosts more than a million visitors each year. The building itself is a work of art—and is an iconic sight in Palermo.
Another cultural hotspot on Pelleriti’s must-see list is Ciudad Cultural Konex (Sarmiento 3131), an events space where concerts, theatrical performances, and children’s shows make for a packed schedule throughout the year. Along with Teatro Monteviejo, Konex is a favorite music venue of Pelleriti’s. The quirky architecture and design of the space—it’s in a refurbished olive oil factory—also makes it worth visiting.
“Another obligatory stop in Buenos Aires is [somewhere] to enjoy a good coffee with a nice book—it’s an experience everyone needs to have,” says Pelleriti of the city that has been home to many of Latin America’s greatest writers, including Jorge Luis Borges and Julio Cortázar. “One café I particularly like for coffee and books is La Biela” (Avenida Presidente Manuel Quintana 600). This traditional café in Recoleta has been a popular haunt for the writers and creative types of Buenos Aires, he says, and remains so today.
Amanda Barnes is a British wine writer who since 2009 has been based in South America, where she specializes in the wines and regions of Argentina, Chile, Brazil, and Uruguay. Ever footloose, she is currently on a mission to travel Around the World in 80 Harvests.