Don’t Vie for Me Argentina-Part 1

The truth is there is room for both of you. Two wineries, nine bottles, one blend, four finished products. Argentinean wines were the stars around here last week. I participated in a virtual tasting with Santiago Achaval of Achaval-Ferrer and several others. I also opened a few single varietal wines from Rutini Wines. In this two-part post, I want to look at the approaches to winemaking, the vision behind the wines, and ideas for pairing.

Achaval-Ferrer’s focus is on creating wines that best represent the terroir, wines that “move us to emotion.” Their vines are rooted in Mendoza and the wines are made to reflect that region. They believe in low-intervention winemaking: no cold soaks, no enzymes, no added sugar, sulfites. The vines are old and ungrafted, yielding fewer, more intense grapes.


Quimera is a Malbec (50%)driven blend, rounded out by Cabernet Franc (24%), Merlot (16%), Cabernet Sauvignon (8%), and Petit Verdot (2%). What made this virtual tasting so unique and so interesting was that we were given each component to taste individually and in comparison with the final blend.  We were able to hear from and question Achaval about his choices and motivation behind them. This gave each participant a better understanding about how each variety fares in Mendoza and the potential for, not only the grape, but the region as a whole.

Listening to Santiago is akin to listening to a great storyteller. His passion, palpable. His command of language, intoxicating. His wine, a carefully crafted masterpiece. He describes each variety as a color, a part of a building, a role in the opera. And this focus on the separate elements is to create a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts, “one personality, one beating heart.”

He describes the Cabernet Franc as , adding “velvety texture” to the Malbec. It is juicy, green, spicy and lush. The Cabernet Sauvignon is the bones, the structure. It is vibrant, a little tart in the finish. This is softened by the Malbec. On the bones, the Malbec provides the muscle, savory with round plum and spice. The Merlot is the “highest part of the poplar…dancing…uplifting.” It is round, soft fruit not noticeable mid-palate. Finally, the Petit Verdot provides the “glue” that brings all of the elements together. It is the roots, the basement, darkening the blend. Black fruit, floral, and chewy.

Whenever six bottles of wine are to be opened, we need to bring in the reserves. This time, we invited my sister and her husband over. On the menu, Albondigas made with turkey chorizo served in a tomato based sauce with paprika, garlic, meyer lemon. Roasted potatoes with Swiss chard that I sautéed with shallot and sherry vinegar, arugula with sherry vinaigrette. It went very well with the wines.

Our collective evaluation of the individual wines determined that Cabernet Franc was the winner followed by Malbec and Petit Verdot. I would love to see the Cabernet Franc introduced to the line.

Quimera is blended before the final fermentation, allowing the wine to meld and grow as one. This wine is balanced, layered, inviting. It is vibrant fruit, mellowed by tannins, earth brightened by floral notes. It is youth tempered with wisdom,  approachability with surprising depth. It is versatile and would be a welcome guest at any dinner party.

The 2012 Achaval-Ferrer Quimera is the most recent release and retails for $35.

Many thanks to Santiago Achaval for sharing his passion for the wine and his country. Thank you Patricia Clough of Gregory White PR for the invitation and for arranging this tasting.

{I received these wines as media samples but received no other compensation. thoughts and opinions are my own.}



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Being a stay- at-home mom can leave one thirsting for a taste of the outside world, a world in which sentences are composed of more than three words. Being an educator means one is always seeking an opportunity to explore and learn. Being a woman with a need to connect can be a challenge when adult conversations are rare. In wine, I find the marriage of art and science, agriculture and storytelling provides limitless areas to explore. But it is the people that keep me engaged. The tenacity needed to keep the family dream alive, the risk to start anew, the trials and principles. I love the history of the vine, the impact of a season, the sentiment in the bottle. That is why I write. I write to tell their stories, to share a piece of mine. I write to learn as I teach others. I write to connect with new friends, to disconnect from the world. I write to celebrate what makes each of us unique, and that which ties us together.

7 thoughts on “Don’t Vie for Me Argentina-Part 1

  1. I purchased a case of the ’05 Quimera at auction last year. It is a very special wine. Your description of the component parts is great and we can learn a lot from understanding the blend. Too bad that we don’t often get the chance.

    Liked by 1 person

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