It’s no secret that living in Argentina means you’re spoiled for choice when it comes to wine selection. From the BBB (bueno, bonito, barato) to even the most exclusive, your options are pretty much endless. I find that I waiver between branching out and trying new, up and coming bodegas testing the waters through new blends or techniques, and sticking with my tried-and-true favorites that never let me down. We are creatures of habit, after all.
Achaval Ferrer has always intrigued me with its premium reputation and near-universal level of acceptance as one of Argentina’s best wineries. However, I’d never really taken the plunge to dive deeper. So when I got the chance to attend a tasting at the Clubhouse, I figured it would be the perfect excuse to give it all a whirl.
The Clubhouse oozes an air of intimate exclusivity that draws an interesting mix of expats (or tourists staying at one of Oasis Collections‘ properties) and locals that hope to one day enter into a relationship with one of these expats (not a bad game plan at all, you do you). After four years it has managed to stay current and trendy, due in part to its varied agenda of events that range from the cultural to the bacchanal. Besides, nothing beats their pool parties on a hot summer’s day.
The tasting took place in the sunken Club Room bar: walls painted midnight back, dramatic lighting strategically placed amid heavy leather chairs and antique trunks-cum-side tables. Led by a sommelier who almost looked to young to be legal (but who nothing less than incredibly informative and friendly), we learned about the history of the bodega and its approach to winemaking. It was a nice blend of charla técnica and informal, and served to work up a healthy thirst in the meantime.
Soon enough, massive picadas were whisked out to each table, piled with different cheese and charcuterie. I had to exercise a serious amount of self control to avoid scarfing it all, leaving little to none for my tasting buddies. Over the next couple of hours, we tried the following five wines:
The Cabernet was definitely one of the favorites of the night. Bear with me on this analogy, but I kind of like to think of the varietal as the Jan Brady of Argentine reds – it has lots of incredible qualities, yet is somehow always outshined by its more popular sister Malbec Marcia. The evening’s near-freezing temperatures and wintry winds blowing outside definitely helped create the perfect atmosphere for such a full-bodied and peppery wine. Gold star for this one.
The Quimera are five-varietal blends (Malbec, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Petit Verdot) that are guaranteed to knock your socks off. There’s a clear logic behind its name, as it represents a strong mix of different parts that result in something that is meant to dazzle and awe. Of the two, I preferred the 2011. (If I had a better trained palate and/or a stronger working knowledge of wines I would able to explain this in more detail, but I’ll choose not to play sommelier this round).
To cap off the evening, we sipped on the Dolce, elaborated from Malbec grapes which have turned to raisins. It was a sumptuous and velvety dessert wine, but not too sweet that it lead to insta-headache. Definitely one of the most balanced and drinkable dessert wines I’ve had in some time. One of my wimpy drinking buddies didn’t want to finish his glass so I happily sipped it down. #NoShame.
Once it was time to head home, I’d learned more than I’d expected about the Achaval Ferrer philosophy and approach to winemaking. It’s a bodega shrouded in a bit of healthy mystery, creating an air of elite subtlety that allows its numerous awards speak for themselves. The wines are heavy hitters, not for the faint of heart (or wallet), but your investment will a solid one. If you’re looking to add some select bottles to your own personal cava, ripe for aging and ideal to whip out for life’s special celebrations (or even a regular Tuesday night because #YOLO (did I just type that?)), look to Achaval Ferrer and thank me later.