Achaval Ferrer is a small winery in Argentina that surprised the world since its debut, when the first batch of their Finca Altamira was rated five stars by the trade publication Decanter, becoming the first wine of the austral country to earn such an honor.
In 1995, Santiago Achával, Manuel Ferrer, Diego Rosso and Tiziano Siviero joined forces with Italian winemaker Roberto Cipresso with the intention of creating a winery that would depart from the production trends of the times to offer products of an international standard based on the quality of the land, vines, and grapes.
The label introduced high-technology production controls without affecting the natural fermentation process, altering acidity or adding sulfites or enzymes, to give some examples.
With this lofty goal, Roberto Cipresso and Santiago Achával started to look for good farms in the province of Mendoza, Argentina, in 1999, when—purely by chance— they arrived at the Finca Altamira. The terroir had old vines that had never been grafted nor suffered any diseases. The entrepreneurs were immediately captivated by the exquisite taste and balance of the grapes they had found.
Through non-invasive methods, the original farm grapes were transformed into wine, and the surprise came when the first batch of Malbec Finca Altamira was awarded five stars by Decanter.
After this international tour de force, the winery expanded significantly and now had three terroir labels: Finca Altamira, Finca Bella Vista, and Finca Mirador. Each produces its own Malbec, showcasing the particular characteristics of the ecosystem, the geological features and the evolution of its century-old ungrafted vines—which give the wines intense color, lower acidity, more flavor, and excellent potential since they are expected to evolve in the bottle for 20 years.
These three world-class products are part of the company’s impressive catalog. Quimera—a especially outstanding vintage— is produced through a technique called warm-blend used by Achával and Cipresso each year. The process begins with an exploration of the vineyards to taste the harvest hours before they decide the proportion of each varietal to be used to achieve the ideal wine.
For Achaval Ferrer, there are three primary production principles: the use of mature ungrafted plants, minimal intervention, and low output, (two to three plants per bottle when the industry standard is usually four bottles per plant). Although they went against a widespread industry practice, this approach allows the brand to produce wines of high quality and great complexity, recovering ancient techniques of craft production.
For its international prestige, excellent scores, talented enologists and distinct personality, Achaval Ferrer is a winery that should be on every wine lover’s radar. ■