Deep ruby color; cherry, black currant, juniper on the nose; black currant, chocolate, sweet cherry, raspberry on the palate.
Dry, medium-full body; sweet, fine-grained tannin; significantly flirts with jammy, but balancing acidity saves the day. Black currant tang and chocolate dominate this fruit-forward effort, especially in the first pour; cherry and a riff of raspberry emerge after some air. Tasty oak, vanilla from a year in used French oak contribute to the fruit bomb qualities.
This is nicely polished, smooth easy drinker that should appeal to range of drinkers, especially those who like big fruit, well-behaved tannin, and a cameo appearance from oak. Decanting allows nuances to emerge and softens black currant tang and is strongly recommended.
Achaval Ferrer is important producer in Mendoza. They make this effort from grapes sourced from several parcels in Mendoza. Malbec is their forte, but they show they can make market-friendly cab, too.
Silvio Alberto is the CEO and senior winemaker. He holds a degree in oenology and fruit horticulture, and in addition working his way through several major wineries to achieve his current position in 2013, he also has more than 15 years of experience as an undergraduate and graduate professor of oenology. Under Alberto, Achaval Ferrer continues to emphasize four points that have guided the winery since its creation in the mid-1990s:
• Ungrafted vines. Most are more than 70 years old; they trace their heritage to Europeans who brought vines to Argentina from France before the phylloxera catastrophe in the 1860s-1890s.
• Low yields to concentrate flavors; this is a natural product of old vines is enhanced by planting vines close together.
• Low intervention wine making. The winery does not cold soak, use enzymes, no fining, no filtering, no sulfites; no added sugar or acid, no racking of the lees or extended maceration or malolactic inoculation. Fermentation is done at higher temperatures to extract maximum color (certainly true with the deep purple of this wine), concentrate flavors, and increase complexity.
• Make a New World wine that is fresh, ripe, expressive, and big but also has Old World elegance, structure, acidity, and balance. Tall order, Achaval Ferrer succeeds—its higher end wines regularly score in the 96-plus stratosphere. This bottle may not soar to those heights, but it is tasty, correct, enjoyable, and has scored in the low 90s with several critics who use numbers to describe wine.
Achaval Ferrer Cabernet Sauvignon Mendoza 2015 is a varietal-correct, well made effort that drinks very much like cabs costing twice as much. If you like Charles Krug or Stag’s Leap Artemis, you will enjoy this, and you can buy two bottles instead of one. $21-25
Photos: Achaval Ferrer winery; Achaval cellar; Achaval’s Silvio Alberto