Not really sure how cult classics are born, but the ones who get it right seem to rocket to success quickly. Some have equally cult winemakers to aid them in their assent — Helen Turley (Colgin, Bryant Family), Heidi Barrett (Screaming Eagle) — but others have fabulously gorgeous wines which sell themselves. Bodega Achaval Ferrer, a ten-year-old winery in Argentina's Mendoza region, is the latter.
Achaval Ferrer, founded by six friends with very little experience in the wine business, began as a labor of love. Of red wine. Manuel Ferrer Minetti, whose card simply reads "Vice-President", formerly practiced law and now pimps his company's juice on American soil. I met with Manuel a few days ago and tasted through all his newly released wines. I was blown away by the quality and character of the juice, most of which is malbec-based.
Ten years ago, malbec was only a twinkle in the U.S. eye but these six men had vision — a vision that they could make an ultra high-quality Argentinean wine that would sell for $50 or more (Thankfully, they recently realized people might buy wines at the lower end as well). They did it by finding and purchasing existing vineyards — with the help of French winemaking consultant Michel Rolland — planted with vines averaging 80-years-old. One of the plots was even lying fallow, grown over with weeds yet still managing to produce fruit. Their Italian winemaker took these super-concentrated, ripe grapes and made wine. The first vintage scored a 91 rating from one of the glossy wine mags (can't publicize those things in my blog) and they've been in the star-studded wine ranks ever since.
Sounds easy doesn't it?