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In search of the impossible

Expressive flavours: Achaval-Ferrer 2011 Quimera

As our offspring now reside in other countries, it was up to me on Mother’s Day to prepare the requested rib-eye beef roast and select the appropriate wine.

Although a suggestion was given about a cabernet sauvignon from Napa Valley, I made the decision to go far further south — in fact, about 4,200 miles further, to Mendoza in Argentina — and pick one of the wines that we stock from Achaval-Ferrer. Santiago Achaval and his small team are unquestionably one of the finest little producers in the land.

I could have started at the top and selected their eight-acre single-vineyard Finca Mirador 2011 Malbec that was included in Wine Spectator’s list of the top 100 wines in the world for 2013. (It was selected from more than 18,000 wines that were tasted blind by their panel).

The magazine rated it 96/100 and wrote: “This pure, racy red exhibits a dark side, with layers of spice, graphite and maduro tobacco. Crushed raspberry, blackberry and concentrated cassis fruit need time in the cellar, best from 2015 through 2022.”

The Wine Advocate from Robert Parker gave it 95/100 and talks of “a surprising sense of reserve and sophistication that could probably show Bordeaux a few lessons in restraint as it draws you into its complexity and its precise, delineated finish of blackcurrant pastille, sea salt and crushed stone that lingers long in the mouth”.

He suggests drinking it from 2016 to 2035. This tiny production, highly allocated wine sells for $98.95 and we usually get about 60 bottles each year.

I have just realised that we have a few bottles of Achaval-Ferrer Finca Bella Vista 2008 and, if I had known last week, it might have been served this past Sunday.

Only 980 six-packs were made of this top malbec that rated a near-perfect 98/100 from Robert Parker.

Its drinking window has opened and will remain so until at least 2028. It has an alluring bouquet of incense, violets, black cherry and blackberry.

The wine, that is bottled unfiltered and unfined, has quite likely gained some sediment at this age so it would be wise to decant. You can have one of the most perfect wines from Argentina for $90.80.

Before mentioning my final choice I would be remiss if I did not include the Achaval-Ferrer 2013 Malbec that sells for $26.90.

If you just prefer not to have an overripe and well-oaked malbec then the refined style of this winery should suit you well.

James Suckling rated it 90/100 and referred to its floral nose and juicy, fruity and delicious style that is ready to drink now. Wine Spectator also awarded it 90/100 and suggested an enticing floral quality to its cherry, plum and wild berry flavours, and a minerally finish.

On this Saturday past I had purchased the aforementioned beef and had been to the farmers’ market for a selection of Bermuda vegetables, and then found myself in our shop on Front Street.

I spotted a bottle of wine on the shelf that brought back memories of an evening in one of our fine restaurants. The wine had been ordered and the sommelier had been asked to pour me a taste without letting me see the bottle. I was expected to guess what it might be. My decision was a fine bordeaux, quite likely a second or third classified growth.

Well, they got me there. It was indeed a “bordeaux blend” — of malbec, cabernet sauvignon, merlot, cabernet franc and petit verdot — but it turned out to be Achaval-Ferrer Quimera from Argentina.

So in turn, on the first day of this week, I poured glasses of Achaval-Ferrer 2011 Quimera and although it was correctly identified as originating in Argentina I did not pursue it further and just unwrapped the bottle.

I should explain that “quimera” translates roughly as “in search of the impossible”. Is that not just a wonderful name for a fine red wine?

In this case the wine just sang with the meal and its expressive flavours of black cherry, raspberry, violets and cedar melded with complex rich layers that are so in harmony at this time.

Wilfred Wong of wine.com rated it 92/100 and said: “The superb 2011 Quimera is simply a food lover’s wine. I was transformed in time and just tasting the wine was really grand, but when joined by food it became pure magic!”

If you would truly like to reach out for the impossible you really only need to spend $45.25 on the wine and the rest is up to you.

This column is a paid for advertorial for Burrows Lightbourn Ltd. Michael Robinson is Director of Wine at Burrows Lightbourn Ltd. He can be contacted at mrobinson@bll.bm or 295-0176. Burrows Lightbourn have stores in Hamilton (Front Street East, 295-1554), Paget (Harbour Road, 236-0355) and St George’s (York Street, 297-0409). A selection of their wines, beers and spirits is available online at www.wineonline.bm