Achaval Ferrer Does It Again!

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Achaval Ferrer

I’ll be honest. There are some tastings that you get invited to that are good. Then there are those that you walk away from thinking, “That was why I love being in the wine industry.” Yesterday was one of those days, as I was invited to a special tasting with Manuel Ferrer of Achaval Ferrer at Michael Mina’s restaurant XIV in Los Angeles.

The invitation came via email and promised that we would be tasting not only the current vintage of all of Achaval Ferrer’s offerings, but that we would tasting wines from their library, hand selected by Manuel for the tasting.

All I can say is that is was better than advertised.

We began our tasting with a blind tasting of three wines from three different regions in the world. After sampling Manuel asked, “Is there any of the wines that you feel quality-wise does not belong with the others?” Honestly, there was not. Each wine, one Old World and two definite New World wines were showing gorgeously. After a bit of bantering, they revealed the identity of the three wines. The first, Ornellaia. The third wine, Joseph Phelps Insignia. The second wine, you might be wondering, was Achaval Ferrer 2007 Quimera, a bottle that retails at our store for $31.98. Imagine our surprise, in a room full of wine buyers and sommeliers, that we could not differentiate between the quality and price of the wines. Brilliant. The Quimera drank just as well as the Ornellaia and the Insignia at a fraction of the price.

The rest of the tasting went something like this:

Achaval Ferrer ’08 Malbec Mendoza
Achaval Ferrer ’07 Quimera
Achaval Ferrer ’07 Finca Mirador
Achaval Ferrer ’07 Finca Bella Vista
Achaval Ferrer ’07 Finca Altamira

Achaval Ferrer ’01 Quimera
Achaval Ferrer ’02 Quimera
Achaval Ferrer ’03 Quimera

Achaval Ferrer ’03 Finca Mirador
Achaval Ferrer ’04 Finca Mirador
Achaval Ferrer ’04 Altamira

Here’s what I found in tasting all of these stunning wines. When asked what his favorite wine ever produced by Achaval Ferrer, with instantaneous ease Manuel Ferrer offered, “The 2002 Quimera. I think it is the most elegant wine we have ever produced.” Judging by the reaction of the guests, he was right on. The 2002 Quimera has an elegance that is relatively unheard of in Argentine wines. The depth of fruit and complexity is a thing of beauty. Fully integrated, the wine draws you in first with the color, a deep purple, then with the nose, a rich combination of blueberry and blackberry, and finally on the palate, a seamless delivery of fruit with a finish that went on for minutes.

Other gems of the tasting were the 2004 vintages, both the Mirador and Altamira, which are perhaps some of the best I’ve personally tasted from their single vineyard projects. The other stunner was the 2007 Bella Vista, their mid-elevation vineyard that is at the same elevation as the entire winery. Bella Vista is an exceptional vineyard, which produces very, very low yields [think 0.9 tons per acre]. Bella Vista is only done in good years, as it was not made in 2005 or 2006. It is a prize well worth finding, and the 2007 vintage is flat out exceptional.

If you are looking for a cellar-worthy Argentine wine, look no further. The Achaval Ferrer wines are well worth your interest. If you can find the 2002 Quimera, grab as many as you can. If you can find anything from the 2004 vintage, pick up a few. If you’re out of luck there, no fear… the 2007 vintage is one of the best they’ve produced in quite a bit of time. You can scan our Achaval Ferrer offerings here.

Enjoy.