Many of us have sentimental favorites in sport. Someone you admire, but has never quite reached the top, for example Gabriela Sabatini for her stylish tennis, or a technically brilliant football team which has trouble kicking goals. Well, I have sentimental favorites in wine. One of these is Achaval Ferrer from Mendoza. This is because next to Catena Zapata it made the most interesting wines in Argentina. Three single vineyard Malbecs from different locations and old vines, where the terroir influence really showed.
This is the 2011 Achaval Ferrer Finca Altamira. It comes from the Uco Valley, where this vineyard is located at an altitude of 1300m. The sunshine here is intense. The grapes protect themselves with thick skins. As a result, the skin to pulp ratio is high. This produces intense and more savoury flavours.
There is blackberry and mulberry fruit on the palate, but also fig and black olive. The sweet core on the mid palate adds chocolate to the complexity. The tannins are smooth, delivering an alluring elegance and a long finish, almost expanding like a top Burgundy wine.
This wine is a beauty and very alive at nine years of age. Sadly, the best days of the company are over, it seems. After the sale to the Russian SPI, maker of Stolychnaya vodka, the brilliant winemaking duo of Santiago Achaval and Roberto Cipresso left a few years ago and opened Matervini, virtually next door. This is a winery to watch, pushing the envelop with high altitude vineyards even further.