The SOMM Journal

June / July 2017

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Page 101 of 124

{ }  101 Just 4 hectares (10 acres), the vineyard pro- duces the best expression of Malbec that I have ever had the privilege of tasting. The Diamante vineyard, the first vine - yard purchased and possibly my favorite endeavor of the winery, produces the Bordeaux-style blend Quimera (Spanish for chimera), and these wines make me smile. The 19-hectare (47-acre) vineyard relies on at least 50 percent Malbec lead - ing the other Bordeaux varieties: seven of Mer lot, five of Cabernet Sauvignon, seven of Cabernet Franc. The vines are rooted on American rootstock in sandy soils over volcanic rock, delivering amazing fruit. The vineyard lies in Tupungato within the famed Valle de Uco, and the wine is honestly one of my favorite Bordeaux-style blends in recent tasting history. A Personal Note I must, in the interest of integrity and honesty, admit my past hesitance toward the wines of Argentina, especially toward Malbec. Perhaps the influx of inexpensive Malbec, although useful in the broad con - sumer market and widely consumed for its fruity, easy-drinking nature, clouded my judgement. Experiencing the attention to detail and dedication of the team at Achaval Ferrer, however, allowed me to rethink my initial bias. These are quality wines at a competitive price-point, regardless of which price-point. The Mendoza tier offers more performance than many choices at its same level. The Finca wines, though, command my respect, as the concentration, intensity and surprising aging potential have elevated my impression of not only the Achaval Ferrer wines but of the potential of the rising qual - ity in the region as a whole. Tasting with the Team I enjoyed the outright treat of sitting down with Manuel Louzada, Chief Winemaker for Achaval Ferrer and Arínzano and CEO of Tenute del Mondo, the Wine Division of SPI Group, and Achaval Ferrer Winemaker Gustavo Rearte to taste through a lineup of ten wines, discussing evolving winemaking choices and preferences, site-specific characteristics and the impressive aging potential of a varietal wine frequently consumed in its youth. Achaval Ferrer 2014 Finca Altamira (SRP $150) Black cherries and mulber- ries sit atop milk chocolate and pastry cream; candied orange peel and violets with grippy, youthful tannins. Achaval Ferrer 2013 Finca Bella Vista (SRP $140) Blueberries and black- berries, lavender, bittersweet chocolate; silky on the palate with persistent yet seamless tannins. Achaval Ferrer 2013 Finca Mirador (SRP $140) Red plum, cherry, black rasp- berry, cocoa powder, orchids and lilacs—structure leads this wine with salivating acidity and fine-grained tannins. Achaval Ferrer 2008 Finca Altamira Developing but still just-ripe blueber- ries, dark chocolate, fresh cut herbs, horse hair ; riper attack on the palate with fierce tannins; the structure and fruit show impeccable balance. Achaval Ferrer 2005 Finca Mirador Still red fruit driven but with overt savory notes—salty black olives, smoke and green tobacco—with violets and cinnamon pastry; remarkably young and vibrant for its age. Achaval Ferrer Quimera—A Vertical A unique wine in the Bordeaux-style category as it focuses on Malbec as the leading grape in the encépagement, typically 50 percent or more of the blend although the variety percentages vary each vintage according to the quality and yield of grapes. The wine deliv- ers the berry and floral character of Malbec with the structure of Cabernet Sauvignon, the ripe pyrazine personality of Cabernet Franc and the plushness of Merlot—a well-rounded, age-worthy wine. 2012, a cooler vintage, reveals a structure driven wine while 2013, a warmer season, offers a floral expression maintaining persistent acidity and the current 2014 (SRP $34.99), a wetter year, yields an earthy character while the oak is still integrating. It was a delight to taste this full line-up of wines showcasing the promise of Mendoza. PHOTO: ALLYSON GORSUCH COURTESY OF ACHAVAL FERRER Finca Altamira, the flagship of the Achaval Ferrer lineup.

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