We kicked off our Epcot Food & Wine Festival adventures with a special wine tasting given by Achaval Ferrer Winery of Mendoza, Argentina.
Achaval Ferrer produces low-yield wines, consistently rated in the 90+ in both Wine Advocate and Wine Spectator. They produce around 15,000 cases per year, 85% of which is exported (25% of that to the U.S.). The winery was launched 10 years ago by 5 friends and they purchased land near the Andes mountains with vines that average around 80 years old.
The winemaker takes an interesting tactic, spending more time with the wood in the barrels and in the field than worrying about the actual blends. In fact, the wine ferments in extremely warm temperatures in concrete vats for 5-6 days – other wineries take months, not days, before moving to the barrel.
We tried three wines at this tasting. Prices listed are what I call “Disney prices,” so in many cases you’ll want to drop $5-$10 from the cost of the bottle.
2009 Malbec Mendoza ($29.95): The winery specializes in Malbec. This one has a lot of big fruit on the nose, as well as violets. There are also a lot of big fruits up front on the palette. I found this wine to be a little hot, and the presenters mentioned that while it is drinkable now, it is a little young. Lay it down for at least a year, I think, and some of that alcohol hotness will burn off (14.5% abv). My rating:
2008 Quimera ($54.95): This blend is named for the mythical beast Chimera, which is a blend of different animals. This wine includes 40% malbec, 22% merlot, 20% cabernet sauvignon, 14% cabernet franc, and 4% petit verdot. Interestingly, the winemaker chose to blend this wine right after picking – no fermenting first. The petit verdot and the cabernet sauvignon lended a lot of structure to this wine, as well as a long finish. The middle of the palate though was all malbec. This wasn’t my kind of wine – the fruit was just too big and I still felt like it was a little too hot for me. But if you love the big fruit monsters, you’ll enjoy the Quimera. My rating:
2007 Finca Mirador ($142.95): The Finca Mirador is one of three separate single vineyard wines produced by Achaval Ferrer. Each one of these showcases malbec from a specific elevation, really emphasizing altitude, terroir, and soil. The Finca Mirador Malbec is grown at 2400 feet, and the other two single vineyard wines are grown at even higher elevations. This wine is pricey, but it tastes like it. I loved it. There was a lot of “dirt” in this wine, with dried cherries and dried fruits. There was a lot of complexity and structure to this wine, reminding me of a really wonderful bordeaux. My rating:
Achaval Ferrer is imported by TGIC. The rep was pretty sure you can pick it up at either The Party Source or Cork n Bottle.
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