Learning From a Master-#winestudio

Last year I participated in a virtual tasting with Santiago Achaval of Achaval-Ferrer in which we deconstructed his Quimera blend and discussed each component. He walked us through his method and motivation for creating this wine. The blend is dominated by Malbec, a signature grape in Mendoza.

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.

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.”

This month we sampled the 2014 Achaval-Ferrer Malbec. It pours ruby with a hint of violet, the texture of thick crushed velvet. Black fruit and woodsy notes entice. The fruit is distinctive and pervasive throughout the palate.. Powerful, fresh raspberry and intense blackberry start and settle in rich and warm. Like sharing a glass with an old friend, easy to approach but you dive right in to deeper conversation.

Tonight on Wine Studio at 8pm ET, you have an opportunity to hear from the master himself. Achaval will be sharing his vast knowledge and beautiful imagery on a Twitter chat. Follow #winestudio or @SantiagoAchaval and @AchavalFerrerUS to participate. He will be discussing:

• the arrival of Malbec to Argentina

• the evolution of Malbec in Argentina

• the inspiration of the Achaval-Ferrer estate

• then versus now: how intent shaped winemaking decisions

• how the American public views Malbec based on those decisions

To taste and learn, pick up one of the wines for the month:

Achaval-Ferrer Malbec 2014 (SRP: $25.00)
Achaval-Ferrer Quimera 2012 (SRP: $34.99)
Achaval-Ferrer Finca Bella Vista 2012 (SRP: $140.00)

The virtual tasting with him last year remains one of my favorite wine learning opportunities. I highly encourage you to participate if you’re interested in learning more about Malbec, Argentina, and winemaking in general.


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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.

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