Alberto Furque: 2005 Tempranillo, 2009 Malbec and 2009 Syrah

IMAGINE living in a place where over 80% of the year you are basking in sunshine, and yet, have at your disposal elevations of over 3000 feet, immense diurnal temperature swings, and a river from which to source water (otherwise absent due to lack of rain). What do you do with such extraordinary gifts from Mother Nature? You plant grape vines, that’s what! As it turns out, such a “Grape Utopia” exists in the Uco Valley of Argentina. The Uco Valley is literally an oasis west of Mendoza, situated directly in front of the Andes mountain range and along the northerly course of the Tunuyan River. Argentine winemakers, who have historically based themselves in central Mendoza, are now exploring the Uco Valley, homing in on spots like La Consulta, where amazing, if not previously forgotten, old-vine vineyards can be found.

Moreover, it’s no secret that the world has gone absolutely gaga for Argentine Malbec in recent years, forcing sommeliers and retailers to reorganize their once California and Bordeaux-dominated selections. That said, while Malbec may be king down there, Argentina’s wine industry is not a one-grape show. Apparently, Alberto Furque had a sixth sense about all of this when he purchased the estate called Aconquija (meaning “snow near the moon”) in 1995. Now run by his profoundly dedicated and energetic daughter, Carolina Furque, the estate boasts 74 hectares of what could be the most attentively-tended Malbec, Syrah, Tempranillo, and Cabernet Sauvignon vines in the area. Carolina harvests much later than many other growers in the area, working with an agronomist to be sure that the grapes have achieved total physiological ripeness. Then, after hand-harvesting the fruit, she ferments her grapes in temperature-controlled tanks, and finally, bottles everything unfiltered in order to preserve the intense color and structure of the wines. Uco Valley wines are famous for their incredible concentration of dark currant, plum, and blueberry flavors (the likes of which aren’t seen in other sub-regions of Mendoza) and Carolina’s wines are the epitome of quality in terms of showcasing these trademark characteristics. No wonder they are well-established on list of TWH’s darlings.

Of course, like everyone else we love the story behind the wines, but at the end of the day, it comes down to what’s in the bottle. These wines not only instantly transport you to the heart of Mendoza wine country upon every sip, but they will transform the way you think about South American wines in general. Salud!

2005 Tempranillo
Typical of this variety, this wine displays a deep red color in the glass, serving as the perfect sensory precursor to the rich raspberry, blackberry, and currants that inundate your nose upon first whiff. After a moment, the classic leather and fresh tobacco leaf nuances are revealed, letting you know that this is an old world grape with one H-E-DOUBLE-HOCKEY-STICKS of a new world makeover. With 5+ years of age in the bottle, its tannins are sweet and sultry in the mouth, but don’t worry, this is one wine that hasn’t lost its backbone.
2009 Malbec
Malbec lovers rejoice for we’ve a contender for your all-time favorites list. Regarding the 2009 harvest in Argentina, Julia Harding MW said “Malbec seems to be the great champion of the vintage” (cue image of Malbec showing off gold medal on Wheaties box). When customers ask about this wine, we tell them it’s like blueberry preserves but with ample acidity, firm tannins, and just the right amount of black pepper to pique your senses. You’ll have to drink it to believe it, but Furque’s Malbec proves that it’s possible for a wine to be densely concentrated without being overly ripe or baked. As far as food pairings go, sky’s the limit, for this is a versatile wine if ever one existed. 

2009 Syrah
If anyone has any doubts about the origin of Furque’s vines, drink this! Only grapes situated 3000+ feet above sea level could reveal such vibrant acidity as those in this Syrah, especially in South America. Which is not to say it is lacking in the fruit and structure departments. Up front the Syrah is lush and full-bodied, but the burst of acid comes through on the back-end, like a little voice whispering (ok, shouting) in your ear that this wine needs to be paired with some grilled flank steak, peppers, onions, and chimichurri sauce. Oh excuse me! I just drooled on my keyboard… – Emily Crichton

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Filed under Alberto Furque, Argentina, Emily Crichton, Malbec, Mendoza, Syrah, Tempranillo, Uco Valley

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