I am a red wine girl. I will enjoy a zippy white and sip rosé during a summer picnic, but I always come home to a glass of red. In the month of April, I was lucky enough to open up five bottles of Achaval Ferrer wines through #WineStudio. Located in Argentina, this winery has been around since 1995 and focuses on terroir-driven wines. This session was all about the land, the grapes, and how the winery allows the bottle to speak for itself. From the elegant yet simple labels to discussing a debut wine for them, we touched on everything over the course of the month, and this was certainly one #WineStudio that focused on the balance between drinking wine and understanding it.
Beginning with the 2015 Achaval Ferrer Malbec, I found a wine full with aromas of tobacco. While I sipped, there were black fruits, some smokiness, and enough acid to balance out the fuller flavors of the wine. This was heavier than the Ordaz Malbec I mentioned a few months ago and it paired wonderfully with the peppery beef jerky I was snacking on. Oftentimes on my day off, I open up a bottle of wine, snack all day, and abuse my Netflix subscription. It was the perfect blend of my snobby interest in wine and my lowbrow interests in jerky. If you are a fan of these things as well, this may be the bottle for you.
Following the Malbec, we moved onto the 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon, a bottle that gave me woodsy vibes. There were the usual bursting flavors of ripe red and dark tart fruits, but there was also a touch of stone and cedar. As one other #WineStudio participant described it, the “Cab tastes like a barrel room smells.” This wine knows what it is with a lush texture and a lingering finish. Like most Archaval Ferrer wines, this is a product made with low intervention, allowing the grape to express itself and the consumer to really understand what this lush wine is all about. The only thing it did that was bad was make me spill half a glass on my favorite Spider-Man shirt, but that probably has more to do with my own clumsiness than with any fault in the wine itself.
A varietal I consistently label a beast, with this one being no exception, we tasted the 2015 Cabernet Franc at the end of April, a debut of this wine in their lineup. This one was robust having lots of cherry and red berry flavors with a nice dry finish to it. For those of you out there that like broody wines that taste like someone opened up a cigar and dumped all of its insides into the bottle, this is the one to try. It’s the kind of wine to drink with a book, in a leather chair, surrounded by a library and fireplacce. The SRP on this one, like all of the wines I’ve already mentioned, is $24.99, which is a great value for all of the layers to be found within each bottle. I know everyone talks about Malbec from this neck of the woods, but take a risk and try this one, I doubt you’ll be disappointed. This bottle also has the added benefit of being available at Morton’s, so you can dive into it during your next elaborate steak dinner.
After a few weeks of being in the know, we did something a little different for #WineStudio and did a blind tasting. Now, I could probably tell a red from a white and a Pinot Noir from a Petit Verdot, but blind tastings are intimidating! You go in knowing nothing, everyone makes different guesses, and then everything is revealed and you learn just how far away from the truth you were. Well, that’s how I imagine they generally go. This was my first one. Although I usually try my #WineStudio wines a few days before the event itself, these two mysterious ones I made sure to save for the day of.
Opening up each bottle, the corks revealed that these wines were from 2012 and 2013, but that was it. As I tried both, I immediately thought these were Cabernet Sauvignon. The friend with whom I tasted guessed Malbec or Merlot. The 2012 was a much deeper purple color and on the nose it gave off aromas of violet and dark berries. The 2013 was fruitier on the nose with a bit of earthiness, but still had some crisp floral qualities to it. When we tasted, both were full of black berries, cherry, and plum flavors with a bit of a spicy, peppery edge. Between the two, the 2012 was more intense and had a rotund aspect that came through while the 2013 was a touch softer with the fruity levels coming about more aggressively. After some sips and guesses, we unveiled the 2012 Quimera and 2013 Quimera. Both a blend of 50% Malbec, 24% Cabernet Sauvignon, and smaller percentages of Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Petit Verdot, these wines are a product of the year in which they were made. Unlike the other bottles we tasted, which are obviously crafted with love, these bottles are even above that, the best of the best. They are all about the terroir and are meant to highlight Argentina in a unique way, an experiment in love. For those who love bold wine, the 2012 is the way to go, while the 2013 is for those that love a decadent yet still fruity juice in their glass. It was actually a lot of fun to see what everyone thought before the big reveal and it definitely warmed me up to the idea of more blind tastings in the future.
It’s because of wineries like Achaval Ferrer that Argentinian wine and Malbec are now things that fly off of shelves and appear on most restaurant menus. They’re reliable, tasty, and the producers are clearly just as passionate about their product as the winemakers wherever you reside. The best thing about these Twitter talks every month is you never know what you’ll discover, so join us in September and see what this is all about. I haven’t regretted it since the first session I joined, and you won’t either.