When you think of a classic wine from Argentina, you probably think of Malbec. But would you also think of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and yes – even Merlot? What exactly is Cabernet’s role in Argentina anyway?
Enter the upstart minds of Achaval-Ferrer. In 1995, the first twinkle in the eyes of the winery partners appeared, with their minds set to the gestalt of creating the best wines possible. In 1998, the first property was purchased, Diamonte Vineyard and the winery was founded.
So, last month on #winestudio, we explored the wines of Achaval-Ferrer, from Malbec to Cab Franc, and what a journey it was! Wine Studio is an ongoing educational project that seeks to bring writers, wineries, and consumers together on Tuesday evenings on Twitter. For the month of April, we explored the wines of Achaval-Ferrer. My favorites of this series are outlined below.
One Tuesday in April, which happened to be #worldmalbecday, we tasted two wines blind. Naturally we knew that they were 100%, or at least, significantly, malbec based, but what no one anticipated was that we were actually tasting two vintages of the same wine, with very different results.
These wines were the 2012 & 2013 Quimera, named for the top of the line blend that is made, lke all good wine, in the vineyard. More than simply the sum of it’s parts, the blend varies ever so slightly every year but is always predominately Malbec. To showcase the other varietals that Achaval-Ferrer focuses on, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon is blended in.
Earthy forest floor erupting n eucalyptus and menthol. Tobacco and dark chocolate mingling with blueberry and blackberry, with old fashioned black licorice on the finish. Astute and developed but can be cellared for years to come. $30
2013 Quimera (pre-release)
Bursting with fruit, classic Malbec. Fresh plums, baking spice, hint of dried lavender and herbs de Provence.
What we didn’t know at the time of tasting s that this was the same wine, same blend, but with vintage variation. According to the winemakers, 2013 was actually a clear year at the site, however, the fruit was showing more, undoubtedly due to it youth.
So what is the point? The point is that wine is a living thing; wine changes in the bottle, but it changes in the vineyard. The same wine can be impacted by climate, localized weather, harvest conditions and so much more.
Also, there is more to Argentina than fruit bomb Malbecs. While they are fun, and great for a party, there is more and more of a Bordeaux influence creeping in; this is natural given the origins of Malbec in Cahors (just south of Bordeaux) and it’s use in many Bordeaux blends. Stylistically, Malbec from France is quite different, but as time goes on and Argentinian wine grows up, you can see the development of these restrained and austere styles.
So go out and taste some Argentinian blends! They are relatively inexpensive, and while not cheap (compared to many mass marketed Malbecs) and can offer an eye opening look at what Argentina can produce
Achaval-Ferrer also makes a stunning Cabernet Franc which we also tasted and I highly reccomend!