Achaval Ferrer, one of the leading wineries from Argentina’s Mendoza region


Achaval Ferrer is one of the most celebrated Argentine wineries. I remember being hugely impressed by what they were doing when I visited in March 2008, and so it was nice to have a look at how they are doing now. I tasted these wines on two occasions, both with winemaker Gustavo Rearte in London. The scores of the wines tasted on both (there was some overlap) were consistent.

Gustavo Rearte, winemaker

Achaval is pronounced ‘Atchaval’, and Achaval Ferrer began life in 1998, as a collaboration between four friends, two of whose names ended up on the label. The two who are name checked are Santiago Achaval and Manuel Ferrer, and the other two partners were another Argentine plus consultant winemaker Roberto Cipresso. Initially the idea was to bring Roberto over and then find land, and plant it. But then they found an old vineyard, Altamira, planted in 1950 and the plans changed. They focused on old, talented vineyards which they nursed to full health and then used to make a series of single vineyard wines, showcasing the quality of the vineyards and also their site specificity.

In 2011 they sold the company to Tenuto del Mundo ( who own several wineries around the world. Tenuto del Mundo began their winery collecting by buying 28% of the Frescobaldi group. Their most recent acquisition was a 50% share in Provence winery Miraval in 2020. They are part of the SPI group which includes Stoli Vodka, and is owned by Russian billionaire Yuri Shefler (and interesting article on the Miraval acquisition is here

When Santiago and Manuel sold, Achaval Ferrer developed a new winemaking team, Gustavo arrived in 2013 and since 2015 he’s been leading things here. There was an overlap with Cipresso, who remained for the hand-over. While Achaval Ferrer have grown their vineyard holdings since then to 180 hectares, Gustavo is keen to maintain the quality of their wines. ‘I’m lucky to receive a Ferrari and I’m not going to put Renault accessories on it,’ he says. Prior to working here he had stints with Delegats in New Zealand and with LVMH in California with Newton.

They focus on three areas: the east, at 750 m; then most of their vineyards are in Lujan de Cujo (110 ha) and finally they have some holdings in the Uco Valley (Gualtallary, Chacayes and Altamira). A new addition to the range is a white blend under the Quimera label.

All the Finca wines are matured in 100% new French oak. Since 2013 they have been using ‘cigar’ barrels which are just 160 litres and are longer than normal barrels. They trialled them first in 2012, and they make up 75% of the barrel program now. Apparently it means the wines need to spend less time in barrel, because of the increased contact between wine and wood these afford.

The latest news? In 2025 they will release a fourth Finca wine from the 2021 vintage. This is currently secret, but a little sleuthing around leads me to believe that this will be the Las Nazaerenas vineyard planted in 1923, which they acquired when they bought the Melipal winery in 2019.


Achaval Ferrer Quimera White 2022 Mendoza, Argentina
14.5% alcohol. This is their first white wine. In 2020 they started trying to make a blend. Since the beginning in 1998 the winery never made white wine. They decided to bottle the 2022, which is 63% Chardonnay, 23% Semillon, 10% Viognier and 4% of Sauvignon Blanc. Just Chardonnay and Viognier are barrel fermented, with 20% new oak. Complex, lively and finely spiced with keen acidity as well as focused citrus fruit, with some nice mineral hints and a bit of alcoholic warmth. Vivid, powerful and textured with nice weight and focus. This is an ambitious wine that should age well for a few years. 93/100

Achaval Ferrer Malbec 2021 Mendoza, Argentina
14.5% alcohol. Entry level Malbec, with 60% estate fruit. This is a blend of the three main appellations: the east, Lujan in the centre and the Uco Valley in the west. This represents on how we understand this malbec each vintage, says Gustavo, so in 2021 it has more Uco Valley fruit. 45% is Uco, which brings freshness and tannins. 5% from the east, which gives juiciness. 100 aged in French oak, third and fourth use, for 8 months. Ripe, floral aromatics with nice sleek cherry and plum, with a bit of spicy bite to the juicy fruit on the palate. It’s generous but has some definition, and some hints of roast coffee and vanilla behind the fleshy, nicely concentrated fruit. 92/100

Achaval Ferrer Malbec 2021 Mendoza, Argentina (same wine, tasted a few weeks earlier)
14.5% alcohol. A lush, ripe, textural expression of Malbec with sweet black cherry and blackberry fruit with a slight saltiness. Pure and ripe, showing some balance to the broad, luxurious fruit, with a hint of chocolate, too. 92/100

Achaval Ferrer Cabernet Franc 2022 Mendoza, Argentina
14.7% alcohol. This has an appealing chalky mineral edge to the sweet blackcurrant fruit nose. The palate is lush and beautifully balanced with ripe, sleek textured berry fruits and some blackcurrant and nice green notes. 92/100

Achaval Ferrer Quimera 2020 Mendoza, Argentina
14.5% alcohol. A blend of Malbec, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot, but the blend changes each year. In 2020 it’s 48% Malbec, 13% Merlot, 18% CF, 19% CS and 2% PV. Only estate vineyards. 60% new oak. Concentrated and sweetly fruited with a spicy underpinning to the ripe blackberry and blackcurrant fruit. It’s a stylish, modern wine with the oak and ripe fruit integrating nicely. Has a slight saltiness on the finish. 94/100

Achaval Ferrer Quimera 2007 Mendoza, Argentina
This shows some evolution, with good concentration to the bold blackberry and black cherry fruit, with hints of mint, spice and herbs. Nice evolution with a hint of balsamic on the finish. 93/100

The single vineyard wines, tasted by altitude. Malbecs from centenarian/very old vineyards (Bella Vista 1910, Mirador 1921, Altamira 1950).

Achaval Ferrer Finca Mirador 2020 Lujan de Cuyo, Mendoza
This was a difficult year because of Covid: a week after harvest began in March, the country was locked down. Getting pickers was hard, and the winery staff had to be divided into four teams. The vintage was also a very warm one, too. Mirador is in the east zone, the largest and lowest oasis in Mendoza. This is at 750 m and the soils are very sandy. Ripe, sweet and rounded with smooth cherry and berry fruits. Nice depth and intensity here with fine-grained tannins. Smooth and supple with some grainy gravelly notes on the finish. 94/100

Achaval Ferrer Finca Mirador 2019 Lujan de Cuyo, Mendoza
14% alcohol. Sandy soils from colluvium. 700 m. 2.25 tons/ha, 14 months in new French oak. Beautiful floral aromatics with black cherry and blackberry notes with distinct spice and graphite notes. The palate has great concentration with spicy, mineral red and black fruits with sweetness and intensity. Intense but fine with a long, spicy finish. Saltiness, too. You can feel the impact of the sandy soils. 95/100

Achaval Ferrer Finca Mirador 2007 Lujan de Cuyo, Mendoza
Some spicy, earthy maturity here on the nose with sweet cherry and plum fruit. There’s a lovely freshness still on the palate with complex sweet black cherry and blackberry fruit with nice spicy detail, and good structure. It’s almost floral, with some nice tertiary notes.

Achaval Ferrer Finca Bella Vista 2020 Mendoza, Argentina
Clay soils over river pebbles at 990 m, where the winery is located. Sweet, ripe, lush and nicely intense. This is smooth and sleek with a ripe fruit profile. Quite floral but with some richness, too. Has a lot of bass in the mix. Lovely depth here with bold ripe black cherry and blackberry fruit. Concentrated and lush with a hint of olive. 94/100

Achaval Ferrer Finca Bella Vista 2019 Mendoza, Argentina
14% alcohol. Clay soils over river pebbles at 990 m, where the winery is located. 2.2 tons/ha, 14 months in new French oak. Lovely freshness and florality here with a core of sweet, silky berry fruits together with a touch of sour cherry. Has soft tannins and a sense of elegance, with a fresh, long finish. Such presence here: very fine, with potential for development, but approachable now. 96/100

Achaval Ferrer Finca Bella Vista 2012 Mendoza, Argentina
This was a cool vintage. Some mint, olive and earthy development on the nose, as well as sweet black fruits. The palate shows more mintiness and sweet black fruits with some earth, spice and olive detail. Grippy on the finish with savoury notes as well as sweet fruit. 93/100

Achaval Ferrer Finca Altamira 2020 Mendoza, Argentina
This is from a colluvial fan from the Andes with lots of stones at 1100 m, planted in 1950, and it’s where the whole project began. Flood irrigated until 2020, now drip irrigated. It’s 9.2 hectares, with 0.9 of these planted in 2021. Nice intensity with bright, vivid black cherry and blackberry fruit, with a salty edge and notes of olive and cured meat. Great concentration and focus with appealing spicy complexity. Intense and flavourful. 96/100

Achaval Ferrer Finca Altamira 2019 Mendoza, Argentina
14% alcohol. 1.8 tons/ha, aged 14 months in new French oak. Intense, concentrated and structure with a lovely mineral spicy edge to the black cherry and blackberry fruit. There’s some structure here and also some acidity, with a stony, grainy mouthfeel. There’s plenty of structure here, but also charm. Very fine with complex olive and spice notes. 96/100

Achaval Ferrer Finca Altamira 2016 Mendoza, Argentina
From a cooler vintage, this has lovely aromatics with some grapefruit and orange as well as sweet blackcurrants. The palate is ripe and sweet, with supple fruit and some freshness. There’s some cured meat in the mix too, as well as a hint of mint. Very expressive with a saline twist to the finish. 96/100

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