Food & Wine

My Cup Runneth Over: Achaval Ferrer Tasting

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This week, happiness arrived in email form. My local wine shop, Arrowine, was doing another wine tasting, this time with none other than Achaval Ferrer!

Those who followed my Mendoza adventures will know it was the first winery that Amy & I visited and ultimately one of our favorites. It’s been difficult to find it here in the States and its one of the few entry level Malbecs I’m willing to pay $25 for.

So it was with great anticipation we headed to the wine tasting and discovered it was better than we had even hoped. They were tasting almost the entire Achaval Ferrer portfolio, including their top-end single vineyard selections.

When we were at the winery we’d only been able to taste a rose, Malbec, Quimera, and Finca Bella Vista (one of the high-end wines). And tonight we’d get to taste them all! Including the Finca Altamira that I purchased at the winery taste unknown based solely on the description.

The tasting was a little chaotic at first, but soon settled into order with people cycling through to try each wine. We started with their 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon ($25) which is lovely. More fruit forward (particularly fresh cherry) than the cabs produced here in the US. Next was the 2011 Malbec ($25) which was good but not quite as amazing as I’d remembered at the winery, perhaps it was the lack of scenery?

The real reason was determined later that night when I opened a bottle of it at home and discovered it needs about an hour decanting to bring back the bright cherry notes that so captivate me!!

Next up was the 2010 Quimera ($50), a red blend of malbec, cab sav, merlot, cab franc, and petit verdot, which is deceptively structured and complex for its price point. It came up on Wines Til Sold Out for $23 a bottle in July and we’d jumped on it. To me this is the perfect wine to gift. It’s a step above entry level bottles with a flavor that far exceeds its price. It’s also a little a different than the usual wine gift which makes it more interesting.

And finally it was time for the 3 single vineyard wines ($110). One of the similarities I noticed is that none were dominated by a strong oak flavor, despite being aged 15 months or more in new caks. They have all the structure and textured of an oak-aged wine but without the off putting (to me) woody taste.

2010 Finca Mirador was up first. We had the luck of being towards the end of that bottle, so it had some time exposed to air. It came from a clay soil and was very fruit forward without many distinct flavors. I found it light and refreshing and altogether delightful, but not up to the $110 price tag. The winery rep described it as the most feminine of the 3.

2010 Finca Bella Vista was next. We remembered it’s flavor from May, although not that it had its roots in limestone. It was much bolder than the Mirador, and coming from a fresh bottle, might tighter. Once it started to open up we enjoyed the fruity fresh cherry structure and its roughness on the tongue.

And then the 2010 Finca Altamira, that I had purchased and not yet tried. Described by the rep as a “violent” wine made from vines in volcanic ash, it was gorgeous. The nose was powerful and the taste lived up to it. It had spice and not just pepper, it had a touch of baking spice – savory without heat. I had no idea a cherry flavored wine could also have so much structure and the lingering finish made it all the more enjoyable.

The only problem with the evening is now I’m dying to go back to Mendoza…


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Heels First is the travels and tribulations of two twenty-something frequent fliers jumping into the world of travel. Join Keri and Jeanne as they tackle mileage runs, elite status, and of course–the perfect travel accessories.

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