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Every Vintage Is Unique

Santiago Achával is making a rare exception and fermenting some of his 2009 harvest with the stems.
2009 Southern Harvest Winemakers
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Posted: Mar 11, 2009 3:00pm ET

By Santiago Achával

Posted by Santiago Achával

No harvest is ever a repetition.

At Achával-Ferrer we have to respond to what Mother Nature gives us. One of the things that we noticed back in December (just after fruit set) was that the stems of our Finca Bella Vista Malbec were unusually red. That is a sign of a very good ripening process! At harvest, the stems were the most fully lignified (when green growth turns into wood) that we’ve ever seen.

This means we have one more element to create a wine of great complexity and longevity. It also brings up the debate: ferment with the stems or destem completely. We normally fully destem the bunches, and then we put the berries on a conveyor belt and have six people make sure that the jacks (end part of the stems) that have broken off the main stems do not go into the fermentation.

But to not put these great red stems to use? No way! Green stems would have added herbaceous and vegetal character to a wine. A bad thing (at least according to us). Red and brown stems have the potential to add mature tannins and character to a wine. So we put a team of our best to gather the stems from the tail end of the destemmer. They then cut off any green parts those stems may have had. And we added the red stems to the fermentation tank!

Every vintage is different. That keeps our creative juices flowing!

This week we picked our Finca Mirador Malbec on Monday. As in other vineyards, 2009 seems to be a great year for this one too! And Tuesday and today we picked the Cab Franc that goes into our Quimera blend.

More on these vineyards, and more on some creative fermentation soon!

Un abrazo a todos,


Chris Lavin
Long Beach, CA —  March 12, 2009 3:13am ET
Sounds very exciting!! Good luck with the rest of harvest.
Johnny Espinoza Esquivel
March 14, 2009 12:01pm ET
Mr. Achaval, I'm hoping for you and your team to have a very nice season, a lot of work to do, but a funny one too. I'll look forward to have one of the wines with the stems in it. Can you please remind me the name of the wine produced/bottled with the vines of Finca Bella Vista?Good Luck with the rest of the harvest too!!!
Santiago Achaval
March 16, 2009 2:12pm ET
Hola Johnny,That's an easy question: it's our single vineyard Finca Bella Vista Malbec!! (we're not very creative on the naming, are we?)Abrazo!Santiago

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