In 1989, Bordeaux was in the midst of a hot streak. The 1988-1990 vintages were superb on Bordeaux’s Left and Right Banks, and many considered scooping up undervalued small chateaux, expecting to cash in on the trifecta. But as his colleagues searched out value in the Medoc, Herve Fabre had a different idea. He and his wife booked a flight from Paris to Buenos Aires. Then another, from the capital to Mendoza. It wouldn’t be long before Herve pulled the trigger on one of the more savviest land grabs in Argentine wine country.
Mendoza was warm and crystal clear. The Andes were still snow-capped, the sun was strong and pure. On day three, Fabre toured vineyards sites in and around Lujan de Cujo, and discovered an opportunity that all but a few had ignored. Most of the vineyards in Lujan de Cujo were new plantings, but there were still sizable plots filled with old vines, some over 50 years of age. While these vineyards offered far smaller yields than the newly planted sites, the clusters were tight, berries were small.
Something didn’t add up. In the Medoc, old vines were coveted, not only for richness and concentration, but for the round tannins of the finished wines. But here in Mendoza, everything seemed to be about quantity, not quality. As old vines make for low yields, they were of little value.
Before Herve and Diane returned to Bordeaux, Herve had snatched up every old vine plot he could find.
It would be those old vines that would help earn Herve Fabre the IWC award for Argentine Winemaker of the Year in 2018, also accounting for what may well be the richest and finest bargain Cabernet Sauvignon on the planet.