I am sorry for the long break. I am travelling in South- and Central America and just did not feel like blogging. I spent time in Mendoza, the wine capital of Argentina, and must say that the top wines, most of them Malbec, are very impressive.
The most exciting company is Achaval-Ferrer. The company is only 13 years old, but the vines in their vineyards average about 100 years. Achaval-Ferrer was formed by three friends, but sold to Russian interests four years ago. So far their involvement has been minimal, but it looks like this could change now.
Achaval-Ferrer picks its grapes quite early and fashions three very distinctive single vineyard Malbecs.
The 2011 Achaval-Ferrer Finca Mirador Malbec comes from a vineyard at 700m altitude (this is low over there), and the soil is predominantly clay. This Malbec is full- bodied, with meaty and smoky overtones. The climate of this vineyard is hot, and the flavours are quite ripe, with firm tannins. This is a wine that would appeal to drinkers of California Cabernets and South Australian Shiraz (94 points).
The 2011 Achaval-Ferrer Finca Bella Vista Malbec is grown on limestone soil at 1000m altitude. This is a very different wine: sensuous, soft and velvety. What a contrast! This is simply a delicious world-class wine (95 points).
The 2011 Achaval-Ferrer Finca Altamira Malbec is the most exciting to me. It comes from the Altamira region of the Uco Valley. The vines grow at 1300 metres. The grapes defend themselves against the UV intensity with thick skins, thereby increasing the pulp-to-juice ratio. This gives the wine extra intensity. However, as the grapes are picked relatively early, this does not come at the expense of freshness and vitality. I tasted figs and chocolate apart from the cherry dominated fruit flavours. This is a complex wine, which will further improve with ageing (95 points).
Check out these wines or the Quimera, which is an excellent blend.