Hand of God Wines on The Tasting Room with WineGuyMike. The Tasting Room is a weekly live broadcast on KFGM 105.5 FM radio and live stream online from 12:00 – 1:00MST. Today I will be sharing two very special wines from the Uco Valley wine appellation in Argentina.
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The term Hand of God Moment is so profound and endearing that every Argentinean is intimately familiar with it. This term is not used lightly, in fact, it is a term that is sacred for this South American culture. In 1986 during the finals of the World Cup Soccer Tournament Argentina was competing against England and the game was tied at 1-1, that was a teammate of Diego Maradona who was at that time revered just as David Beckham is today, kicked the soccer ball to Maradona who lunged with his head and couldn’t reach the ball except with his fist.
Maradona thrust his fist toward the ball guiding it past the goalie and into the goal and winning the game for Argentina. This play is known as “The Hand of God Moment” is forever ingrained in the minds of the Argentineans as the thrill of victory and for England the agony of defeat.
For two Stanford alums enjoying a glass of wine or two together, it became the.ir personal Hand of God moment. Jon Staenberg, a.k.a “El Jefe”, and Santiago Achával, a.k.a “Master of Malbec” dubbed by The Wine Spectator magazine, this was their special moment, the moment when inspiration, friendship, and passion intersected as one. This was there Hand of God moment, it was also the beginning of Hand of God Wines in the Mendoza appellation of Argentina.
These two Stanford alums met as they studied business at Stanford University. After school both of these men went their own ways, Santiago as an entrepreneur who enjoyed success in the cement business in Argentina and Jon who is also an interesting entrepreneur in the field of technology, spending the bulk of his career with a little company called Microsoft.
It was on a trip to visit Argentina that Jon decided to look up Santiago and have a glass of wine together. It was this Hand of God reunion that over a glass of wine or two that the passion and love for wine resulted in a winery in Argentina which produces the Hand of God Wines.
Staenberg is the owner and proprietor and Achával is the winemaker. This is a partnership made in heaven hence the name Hand of God Wines. When anything happens that is special and perhaps other worldly this is when the Argentineans look to the heavens and make reference to a Hand of God moment.
Thankfully for you and I, the wine drinker, this divine intervention came to be in the form of Hand of God Wines. Vineyard land in Mendoza is 150 times less to purchase than land in the Napa Valley of California and it is also land that is in Achával’s soul. This is where he is from, this is what he loves and calls home, and for WineGuyMike this is also a component of terroir, a true sense of place.
South American vineyard land can be very special, just look at Chile and Argentina, very different yet both produce very good wine in the hands of a skilled winemaker such as Santiago Achával. The location is everything and after an exhaustive search, Staenberg and Achával found two perfect vineyards in which they now produce world-class wines. A third white wine that I know will be equally as impressive is on its way very soon.
Hand of God Wines is a boutique winery that produces hand crafted wines that of exceptional quality. When Wine Spectator magazine referred to Achával as “The Master of Malbec” they were not exaggerating. The wines he is making at Hand of God Wines are so important to the world because it is an acknowledgment of the quality of land and soil composition, elevation of land, climate, prevailing wind patterns, and pristine alpine water that bless this land. This is what Achával brings to the world as a gift in the form of a bottle of wine that exemplifies terroir of two very special vineyards in Mendoza, Argentina.
The Hand of God vineyards is located a little over sixty miles from one another. The Stolen Horse Vineyard is an old vine Malbec property with vines nearing 100 years of age. This vineyard produces fruit with a complexity and quality that that only aged vines are able. The fruit in this vineyard is intense, concentrated, with, layers of flavor and aroma, that which only can be produced from old vine fruit.
The 2010 vintage of Old Vine Malbec from Stolen Horse Vineyard is extremely well made featuring structure, balance, and restraint which is difficult in a wine this powerful. This wine can be enjoyed now if decanted for an hour giving it a twirl in the decanter a couple times during that time.
This wine like a great Bordeaux or a Beckstoffer To Kalon wine from California will be best in 5 years but is so well made can be laid down for 15-25 years. I hope I live that long because I do want to taste this very special wine then.
This bottle of wine is perfectly balanced with fruit, acid, and tannin. The minerality and earthen quality are terrific but for me, I love what the French refer to as anime, a meat like quality that makes this wine particularly special. This wine is so good that honestly should only be paired with quality dry aged beef or Elk, it is just that good.
The second wine that Achával has crafted for the Hand of God Wines is a red blend wine that is so uncommon to Argentina that I dare call it a rarity. The 2010 Fingerprint Series Red Wine is a French Style Rhone blend that is ready to go now.
This wine is fluid and elegant, honestly better than most Rhone wine available in the United States. This blend is 55% Malbec, 35% Syrah, and 10% Petit Verdot and is beautiful on the nose and the palate. The finish leaves you in thought, wondering just what this vineyard looks like as it is still horse plowed and fruit that is hand harvested. This is why both of these treasures from Achával are so individual and thought to provoke. This is not common wine, this is special and it is important to share wines that in a world of so much commonality amongst wines that there are some that are so distinct that they stand alone. This is the wine that Santiago Achával makes and I thank him for that.
This wine is so synonymous when paired with Wild Game, Wild Fowl, Grilled Chicken, and just perfect with well-marbled meats. Well-made sauces for any of these entrees would also complement perfectly. This wine is concentrated with fruit yet is so delicate, delicious aroma and layer upon layer of flavor are revealed with an understated dusting of fine white pepper. A finish that begs for more.
Hand of God Wines are not only lovely they are provoking and I have been so fortunate to taste the nectar of God, this was my Hand of God moment. Thank you, Jon Staenberg and Santiago Achával for your passion and commitment to do something very special.
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