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Achaval Ferrer puts terroir in the spotlight with Fincas 2020

Achaval Ferrer’s Fincas 2020 wines represent Mendoza’s finest terroirs. To mark the release, db explores the sites and philosophies behind them.

Achaval Ferrer, a producer of fine Argentine wines since 1998, has released the latest iterations of its Fincas range. The trio of estate Malbecs from 2020, Finca Mirador, Finca Bella Vista and Finca Altamira, launched globally on 15 April. The wines are retailing in the UK market through Jeroboams.

The Fincas project is the pinnacle of more than 25 years spent exploring Argentina’s terroirs through its signature grape, Malbec. Its goal is to convey the unique and varied conditions found across Argentina’s most famous winegrowing region. Since launching, the three wines have gained an international reputation, and the company is eyeing further development with a fourth Finca wine in the works.

Revealing the Fincas 2020 range alongside selected vintages from each vineyard at 67 Pall Mall, London, winemaker Gustavo Rearte stressed that Argentine Malbec should not be overcomplicated to be high quality. “The future of Malbec,” he says, “is three simple things: a great grape, terroir and hard work.”

Achaval Ferrer’s work to achieve high quality, according to Rearte, rests on “three pillars”: ungrafted vines, minimal intervention and a search for complexity. The team has invested in innovative schemes, such as cigar-shaped barrels, trials with wild yeast and research into the estates’ clonal diversity. However, the core aim has always been an expression of terroir and vintage through Malbec, as opposed to distracting projects.

2020 was an unusual year for Rearte and his team, though one which yielded fine expressions of terroir. The harvest and winemaking were dramatically impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, but the vines themselves thrived and adaptations to Covid meant a fine collection could nonetheless be produced.

After a 2019 vintage which could be considered more typical for Mendiza, 2020 was a warm year. The team’s careful planning of canopy management and irrigation helped mitigate any potential negative impacts. They were also helped by the weather conditions: despite warm December days, the cool nights and a fresh start to February ensured homogenous growth and concentrated flavours. Although a little higher in alcohol than the previous year, Rearte believes the vintage demonstrates “harmonious maturation” of the year’s Malbec.

“I am confident that over time they will evolve towards places of greater expression and complexity,” concluded Rearte. Given the masterclass showed vintages as far back as 2007, that precedent is already well established.

In fact, it seems for him that is the point. “Our goal is to give the opportunity to drink an aged bottle which is not Barolo or Burgundy,” says Rearte. “That can be Malbec.”

The Fincas 2020 releases celebrate three unique terroirs in the famous Mendoza region, each with a distinct character in its varietal Malbec. db explores the three new releases.

Finca Mirador

These vineyards, planted in 1921, express the opulent character of East Mendoza. Sitting at 700 metres altitude, four hectares of vines sit in sandy soil that contribute to the rich character. The ripe grapes were picked in mid-March, with careful attention paid to balancing the vineyard’s typical generosity with freshness.

The 2020 vintage is described as unctuous and electric, with black fruit aromas and spices that express the desert-like conditions in full flavours and body. The selected French oak barrels complement its natural richness even further.

Finca Bella Vista

As Achaval Ferrer’s oldest vineyard, planted in 1910, Finca Bella Vista is known for its concentration. The seven hectares are in Mendoza’s Luján de Cuyo region, planted at a height of 990m. The wines are particularly influenced by the clay-loam soils and the nearby Mendoza River.

The new Finca Bella Vista 2020, Rearte says, shows the smooth, finely meshed texture and characteristic juicy acidity of the site. It is described as faithful to regional identity, but an elegant expression unique to the vineyard.

Finca Altamira

The highest site of the three, situated at 1,100m in the Uco Valley, Finca Altamira is defined by complex geology. The soils comprise alluvial deposits, volcanic rocks and large stones. Its naturally low yields, with vines dating back to 1950, help in expressing this complexity.

Described by the estate as “truly a wine that describes its origin”, the Finca Altamira 2020 reflects its unique and challenging site with a complex profile. Orange peel, balsamic and mineral notes join violets and black fruit in the complex, imposing wine.

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