Hervé Fabre was born in Bordeaux to a family of wine négociants. After working in the family business for several years, he became certain his path was not to be a purveyor of other people’s wine. Anxious to establish himself as a grower and wine maker, he went in search of vineyards to purchase. By 1990, he found an impressive holding of Malbec in the high plateaus of Mendoza, Argentina.
Planted in 1908, the vines were particularly impressive not only for their age, but for the density of planting (roughly 3300 vines per acre) which forces fierce competition among the vines for nutrients, keeps yields low, and produces very concentrated flavors. Hervé built his new winery in the center of these beautiful old vines and has cultivated them naturally — without chemical herbicides — ever since. Culled from these same old vines (now averaging 60 years old), the Gran Vin (a blend of Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot) spends 12 months in small Alier oak barrels after fermentation. Persistent acidity and delicate, silky tannins on the finish highlight pristine dried cherry and raspberry aromas. Nearly perfect wine for roasted filet of beef.
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Argentina is currently the fifth-largest producer of wine in the world. The first European grapes were brought to Argentina in 1541 by Spanish colonists. The province of Mendoza produces more than 60% of the total output. Mendoza is blessed with high-altitude, low humidity, and sandy soils, a combination that helps keep vine diseases to a minimum and the vine louse, phylloxera, at bay. Most high-quality plantings are producteur direct – on vinifera rootstock, a rare luxury in winegrowing.
Production in much of Mendoza is industrial in scale, with typical yields in the neighborhood of 22 tons/acre – a huge number of grapes on each vine. Smaller, high-quality wineries typically average 3 tons/acre in densely planted vineyards suited for hand-harvesting. Since the late 1980s, there has been a growing community of high-quality producers, which has raised the stature of the region in international markets.
The food of Argentina is as diverse as its immigrant population; Spanish, Italian and French settlers have all brought their influence. The country is a tremendous producer of food, notably beef, and the average consumption of beef is a staggering 150 pounds per capita. Wheat for bread and pasta (not to mention pizza) is another major food source.
Mendoza’s foods also show a strong influence of of pre-Columbian cultures, with wide cultivation of Quinoa (a primitive “cereal” which was an important source of calories for local cultures), potatoes (which are native to Andean countries), and Kiwicha (amaranth), one of the absolute staples of the Andean diet.
European influences are found in hams (both Spanish and Italian in style) sausages, salamis, and other smoked meats. Corn is widely grown, and versions of polenta abound. Argentine pitsa (pizza) often resembles Italian calzone. Chickpeas provide flour for Fainá – a type of flatbread adopted from northern Italy. Beef is consumed in prodigious amounts in every imaginable preparation – particularly in Carne Asada (barbecue).
Quick Pairing Recommendations for Red Wines From This Area
Grilled Flatiron Steaks, Rib Eye, or NY Strip
Quick Pairing Recommendations for White, Rosé, and Sparkling Wines From This Area
Whole Roasted Fish
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