Federico Benegas Lynch was raised at 'El Trapiche', a winery established in 1883 by his great, great grandfather, Don Tiburcio Benegas, one of the original pioneers of Argentine wine. The winery was finally sold in the 1970s and in 1998, following a successful business career in Buenos Aires, Federico returned to Mendoza to re-kindle his life long passion and professional destiny, wine.
He bought La Libertad, an historic 40 hectare vineyard with 'soils' of stone on the old upper Mendoza riverbank in Cruz de Piedra, and an old winery that belonged to his mother's family which he quickly set about refurbishing. His idea was based on the traditional French Châteaux system, where proprietorship of vineyard and winery are inextricably linked. Today Bodega Benegas itself is a marvel, a real treat for the visitor, a sort of hybrid between a museum and a welcoming family home with extensive underground cellars where archive vintages are kept, and upstairs one of the most impressive dining rooms you can magine (with asado to match if you're lucky).
And the wines? Well, forget about the 'New World'. This is one of the best ways to experience Argentina's distinctly European wine culture. Of course there is lovely opulence, purity and generosity in the fruit, but there is also tension, sometimes an exciting nervosity in the structure. It's wrong to generalise, but Benegas wines age beautifully, and here is one of the very few wineries we know of in Argentina that will hold on to its top wines until they are absolutely ready to enjoy. Hats off to a slice of living wine history.