I spent last month in Argentina, tasting the wines of Achaval-Ferrer. Technically I was not physically in Argentina, but thanks to #winestudio (a wine education online forum that connects writers, sommeliers and wine industry professionals in real time on Twitter Tuesdays at 9PM EDT) I was able to immerse myself in Argentina, the wines of Achaval-Ferrer, and indulge my tastebuds with food pairings for the Achaval-Ferrer wines.
Achaval-Ferrer was founded in 1995 with the goal of producing top quality red wines driven by the terrior. The founders, Santiago Achával, Roberto Cipresso, Manuel Ferrer, and Tiziano Siviero believed the Mendoza region was well suited to produce amazing Malbec due to old vines, no phylloxera, and ideal weather and terroir. Achaval-Ferrer has three distinct wine lines. Mendoza Line – Single-variety blends from different regions; Luján de Cuyo, Medrano, and Valle de Uco. Quimera – a bordeaux like blend of Malbec, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Petit Verdot. Fincas – single vineyard wines; Mirador, Bella Vista, and Altamira, all 100% Malbec.
As part of #winestudio we tasted the 2015 Malbec Mendoza 100% Malbec, 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon Mendoza 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2015 Cabernet Franc Mendoza 100% Cabernet Franc and as part of #worldmalbecday, a blind tasting of the 2012 and 2013 Quimera.
Malbec really was not on my radar before learning about and tasting the wines of Achaval-Ferrer. I had tasted a Malbec years ago, and did not really care for it. The 2015 Achaval-Ferrer Malbec brought me quickly into the Malbec fold. This Malbec was fresh, well balanced with nice fruit flavors of plum and blackberry and a hint of tobacco. I found myself remembering an Argentine Grill Fest I had attended in Frankfurt Germany with grilled steaks and chimichurri sauce (a classic Argentine specialty). The next day I was grilling up bison flank steak and chopping up a chimichurri sauce. The 2015 Achaval-Ferrer Cabernet Sauvignon had notable tannins, nice acidity, black cherry, blackberries and red currants on the palate. The 2015 Achaval-Ferrer Cabernet Franc is a new addition to the portfolio. The nose revealed vanilla, fig and faint rosemary. Firm tannins with nice acidity and flavors of black cherry and tobacco. The 2013 and 2012 Achaval-Ferrer Quimera made for a fun #worldmalbecday blind tasting on Twitter with #winestudio. The Quimera is blended with traditional bordeaux varietals, with Malbec being the highest percentage in the blend. The 2013 was full bodied with noted acidity and fresh fruit flavors of cassis, cherry and blackberry. The 2012 was leaner more earthy, but with nice acidity and a long finish.
The bison flank steak with chimchurri sauce was an Argentine classic pairing. I had read leaner cuts of meat pair well with Malbec since the tannins are lower than other red wines. The bison flank steak was lean and maybe had a flavor component similar to that of Argentine beef. Another successful pairing was grilled lamb and eggplant skewers with the 2013 and 2012 Quimera.
Create your own Argentine Grill Fest. Fire up the grill, pour a glass of Achaval-Ferrer wine and fest on bison flank steak and chimchurri or lamb and eggplant skewers. Cheers!
- 1 large bunch of Italian parsley, chopped and stemmed
- ½ bunch of cilantro, chopped and stemmed
- 2 tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped and stemmed
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 small shallot, minced
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar
- In a medium bowl, combine cilantro, parsley, oregano, paprika, shallot, and olive oil. Stir mixing well. Let stand for 20 minutes for flavors to develop.
- Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. When ready to use, bring to room temperature and stir in 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar and salt and pepper to taste.
- Note: food processor can be used to chop herbs.
- 1½ lb. eggplant, cut into 1½ inch cubes
- 1½ lb. lean lamb or beef, cut into 1½ inch cubes
- ¼ cup white onion, minced
- 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 24 fresh or 2 dried bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon sweet paprika
- olive oil spray for grill
- In a large bowl, combine eggplant, lamb, onion, garlic, olive oil, and fresh or dried bay leaves. Sprinkle in the salt, pepper and paprika, stir to mix. Marinate for 20 minutes at room temperature.
- Assemble the skewers- start with one cube of eggplant followed by one fresh bay leaf (if using), and then lamb cube. Repeat in the same order until you have 5 cubes of meat on the skewer.
- Prepare charcoal grill. Spray grate with olive oil spray. When the grill is ready and hot, place skewers on grill for 5 minutes per side and then turn. Check for doneness. Serve immediately.
The wine samples were provided by Gregory White PR as part of #winestudio, an educational program organized by Tina Morey. Join the #winestudio conversation Tuesday at 9pm EDT on Twitter.