Those of you who read my blogs know that I am a big fan of Buenos Aires, Argentine Malbec and grilled grass-fed steak.
One of my favorite producers is Achával-Ferrer, whose co-owner and winemaker, Santiago Achával, is also blogging for us as part of the 2009 Southern Hemisphere Harvest series. The winery's single-vineyard Malbecs—Finca Altamira, Finca Mirador and Finca Bella Vista—are among the country's best wines. They come at a price, however, selling for more than $100 a bottle.
Achával-Ferrer also offers an entry-level Malbec Mendoza for around $20 to $30 and the mid-priced Quimera, which shows more depth and complexity. The Quimera is a blend of Malbec, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. You can find the current vintage, 2006, for as low as $30 in some markets, around $40 in others.
A few years ago, when I returned from a trip to Buenos Aires, I bought a few bottles of the 2004 at $23 each. They are almost gone, but I opened one the other night. Still deep in color, it had enticing raspberry, blackberry and violet aromas, followed by pure flavors of the same. Vibrant and intense, this fresh, tasty red displayed a smooth texture and fine length. I gave it 90 points, non-blind.
WineSpectator.com members: Read the official tasting note for Achával-Ferrer Mendoza Quimera 2004 (93 points, $48)