Santiago Achaval has been synonymous with Malbec for 30 harvests. You could say he's an "old pro" with this grape varietal. Since founding The Farm Winery, we have looked forward to having a Paso vintage where we could create Malbec on its own. After years of re-training the vines to grow less vigorously without cordons, we debuted Old Pro, vintage 2014. Each vintage, there is just a barrel or two, so our only regret is there is so little to go around.
Vintage 2018 winemaker's notes
46 Cases produced - just 2 barrels. 100% Malbec
The western-most Malbec vineyard in Paso Robles. Five vintages ago, the change that took this vineyard block from making a just-ok blending wine, to making a great varietal single bottling of Malbec, was as simple (and as wise) as changing the pruning/trellising techniques from cordon and spur to double guyot….. How small details of vineyard management can be so influential.
A nose that starts with floral notes of morning-dewed countryside herbs, and is uplifting and fresh and open and full of fruit and savory at the same time.
The palate is the delivery of the promises made by the nose. And they were big promises, so it’s a great mouthful of tongue coating velvet and plum and fine tannin and savory/spicy thingies going on in my mouth. Delightful! This is Malbec, and Malbec is my thing back in Mendoza, so I’m going to suggest empanadas, grilled bell peppers, grilled chicken, grilled chorizo, hamburgers and rare skirt steak! (not an “or” proposition: all of it!)
Vintage 2018 review
Opaque ruby. Dark berry and cherry liqueur, fruitcake, smoky oak and a hint of vanilla on the deeply perfumed nose. Deep black and blue fruit, mocha, licorice and violet pastille flavors are joined by a baking spice nuance adds back-end cut. Fleshy and energetic as well, finishing on a gently tannic note, with sharp focus and wonderful, floral-tinged persistence. Drink 2025 through 2034.
94 points; Vinous November 2021
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Vintage 2017 winemaker's notes
67 Cases produced. 100% Malbec
In the first years of The Farm Winery we tried, tried and tried to make a great Malbec. It took us from 2009 to 2014 to get the first one right. But since we’ve made one every year! And the secret was an apparently simple change of pruning technique. From cordon and spur, to cane. A seemingly small thing.
But wine is made in the vineyard. And Malbec likes cane more than cordon. If we talk enough to the vines, we get to know how they want to grow. If we do it their way, we get the best from them.
The 2017 Old Pro is, in my view, our best ever. The nose is fresh and vibrant. Intense and deep. A blend of reds and blacks. Pure. Driven. The palate mirrors the nose in an explosion of fresh fruits and zest and joy of living. The first impulse is to find someone to share this amazement. In an emptied mouth the flavors persist, diminishing very, very slowly across several minutes. And then it’s silence. A great performance sometimes deserves an awed silence before the applause. This applause would be for the DeBro vineyard. That is where this wine was made.
Vintage 2017 reviews
Translucent dark red. The Old Pro Malbec begins with spicy, fruity bouquet of raspberry and huckleberry accented by a light briar note. As with all The Farm wines, the mouth feel is silky and pure – a seductive Malbec – with excellent concentration of forest berries.
93 points; International Wine Review April 2021
Deep, dark ruby. Expressive, spice-accented aromas of black/blue preserves, mocha and smoky minerals, with suave floral overtone. Sweet, seamless and broad on the palate, offering concentrated cassis and boysenberry flavors and a touch of licorice. Appealingly sweet and fleshy, finishing with strong cling and subtle, late-arriving tannins. Drink 2023 through 2031.
92 points; Vinous December 2020
Vintage 2016 winemaker's notes
21 Cases produced. 100% Malbec
We don’t bottle Malbec every year. But, since we modified the Malbec vine farming from spur to cane pruning, we have hit a good run in vintages 2014, 2015 and now 2016.
On the nose, there’s a fantastic mixture of fruit, herbs, and hints of white pepper. All this may sound like too much….but it’s so balanced that it beckons me. Nose back to the glass and a small smile shows up in my face. Hey! Life is actually good! On the palate, I find elegance coupled with intensity. Fruits melding to fine tannin and tangy minerality. Savory is a word that also comes to mind! A wine for food; palate cleansing, inviting another bite of a rare slice of steak...
Vintage 2016 review
The nose is chocolate, dense, saturated plum, creosite and Asian spice capped with crushed blueberry. The palate entry is supple spiced ambrosia of plum, peach spiked with java, graphite in the core and well-integrated black fruit acidity. Drink 2021 through 2030.
94 points; purely domestic wine report Volume 9.2, Summer 2020
Vintage 2015 winemaker's notes
At The Farm Winery, we’ve been farming Malbec since 2010. Only first in 2014 did we experience in the barrel that which defines The Farm Winery (difficult to pin down, but “you know it when you taste it”). Not every year can we offer a Malbec. For whatever it is that has to occur for an Old Pro to show up, it did happen in 2015!
Vintage 2014 winemaker's notes
This is the first time we’ve made this wine with just 21 cases produced.
At The Farm Winery, we’ve been farming Malbec since 2010. Every year. With the hope of making a stand-alone Malbec. Like the Argentinian ones. And up to 2013, every single year, our Malbec was not good enough. Back to the drawing board. Declassified, blended……..
Until 2014. We had a tiny amount of fruit. Perfect balance in the vineyard. Great intensity of grape flavors. So we held our breath, and waited for the verdict of aging…… It was a yes! But our 2014 Malbec wanted to be bottled. It didn’t want 2 years of aging. We heard and accepted.
This is not my Argentinian Malbec. It does stand side-to-side with them, and it’s not a me-too. It has Paso character.
On the nose, there’s that dark plum note that says Malbec. Mixed with dark cherries that carry vibrancy and a savory note. On the palate you can immediately taste the effects of the Paso Robles limestone soils. A refinement of structure. A merging of tannin and minerality. Standing next to the fruit without overpowering it. In an empty mouth the savory note is dominant, demanding a return to the dinner table…..
postscript - from Farm Club members who could not wait to try Old Pro...
"Just thought I’d get back to you: opened the bottle of Old Pro last night, and was blown away. Totally and utterly blown away: an amazing Malbec. Probably one of the finest I’ve ever tasted."
"We opened the bottle of Old Pro this past weekend with a few friends and some of my wife's homemade empanadas. What a great bottle of wine! Tasted a bit like some of malbecs from the southwest part of France. We thoroughly enjoyed it and are thankful we have one bottle left! We look forward to the next Old Pro vintage. Can't wait."