Over the weekend, I opened a bottle of Achával-Ferrer's 2002 Finca Altamira Malbec (among other things), and it gave me a chance to reflect a little bit.
When the wine was first released, I rated it 94 points (Nov. 15, 2004, issue), which at the time set a new high watermark for Argentina. This really was the wine that broke Argentina open for me—its racy fruit and minerality were unique, and its depth and concentration were superb.
I try to score on the conservative side of things, so pegging an Argentinean Malbec at 94 points, when none had been there before, felt like going out on a limb at the time. But for me, the wine showed what happens at the perfect point when everything comes together—a great vintage, a great vineyard and the hard work of a dedicated winemaking team.
The wine still shows terrific purity and fruit, along with a fine minerality. It has mellowed just a touch, but is still superlong and racy.
Today it hardly seems like I went out on that limb: A few more Argentinean Malbecs have now passed the 94-point mark, including more recent vintages of the Altamira.
Still, it's nice to reminisce a little over a wine that made such an impression when I first tasted it. Especially when it continues to make that impression ...