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Senior editor Dana Nigro joined Wine Spectator in 1998. She is managing editor of WineSpectator.com.
Dana Nigro

An Argentine Red Just in Time

Achával-Ferrer Malbec Mendoza 2005

Dana Nigro
Posted: January 6, 2010

Over the holidays, after a bad experience with a bottle of wine that had been overlooked for too long, I spent a little time reorganizing my wine collection. I pulled out more than a dozen wines nearing the end of their drink windows so I wouldn’t miss out on anything else I had really wanted to try. Among them was my last of the regular 2005 Malbec bottling from Achával-Ferrer, one of my favorite Argentinean producers; my colleague James Molesworth’s drink recommendation on it in 2007 was "Drink now through 2008."

So I promptly opened it with our next steak dinner, hoping we weren’t too late to catch it in its prime. Fortunately, the red was still in great condition. Enticing berry aromas filled the glass. The supple dark fruit transitioned nicely into minerality on the fresh finish, which bloomed with spice and floral notes. 89 points, non-blind—just shy of its original rating. Wine Spectator tasters are relatively conservative in their recommended drink windows exactly so you don't miss wines at their most enjoyable. Still, if I had any more of this left, I wouldn’t wait much longer to finish it off.

WineSpectator.com members: Read the orignal blind-tasting review for Achával-Ferrer Malbec Mendoza 2005, (90, $25).

• Plus, get scores and tasting notes for more recently rated Argentine Malbec.

Greg Flanagan
Bethel CT —  January 6, 2010 12:09pm ET

What is you experience with aging Malbecs vs other varietals? I love the price/points coming out of Argentina...but I question how many bottles of Malbec I can/should stash away for the future.

Dana Nigro
New York, NY —  January 6, 2010 1:20pm ET

Most of my Malbec purchases are in the $30 and under range, and I drink them within a couple years of release. I love them for their vivid fruit.

But that's a question my colleague James Molesworth, who is the lead taster for Argentina, can better answer, so I put it to him. He likewise feels that, for the most part, Argentine Malbecs are best drunk up in their first few years of life. Some of the big ones that have to absorb ambitious oak treatments need a little time to come together, but even they are best when their fruit is still youthful.

If you look at his reviews for some of the higher-end Malbecs, say those from Catena Zapata or Achaval-Ferrer, James has given drink recommendations that they are best a couple years after release and up to 5 to 7 years out.

James blogged abut a discussion he had on this topic with vintner Laura Catena. If you're interested in more, you can read that here:

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