One of the top names in Argentine wine has a new investor with deep pockets. Santiago Achával Becú, Achával-Ferrer’s owner, revealed today that SPI Group, a spirits company that owns Stolichnaya vodka and has shares in Tuscany’s Tenuta dell’Ornellaia and Marchesi de’ Frescobaldi estates, has bought a majority share of the Argentine winery for an undisclosed amount.
Most of the shares came from Italian minority investors Roberto Cipresso and Tiziano Siviero. Cipresso, who is Achával-Ferrer’s original winemaker, sold his shares to raise enough capital to buy out his partners at his Montalcino-based winery, Fattoria La Fiorita, according to Achával. Cipresso will continue to work with the winery as a consultant.
As part of the agreement, Achával and partner Manuel Ferrer, who both contributed shares to the deal, will “control the vote of the board.” Achával will also remain president of the winery, while SPI Group has also offered him a « significant » role within their wine portfolio, which includes participating in Marchesi de’ Frescobaldi’s board meetings.
“We feel that this will open us doors to prestigious on-premise accounts throughout the world, especially those that have not yet opened up their minds and wine-lists to Argentine wines,” said Achával.
Achával-Ferrer, founded in 1998, is one of Argentina’s premier wineries and produces nearly 20,000 cases per year. The winery’s three single-vineyard bottlings—Finca Altamira, Finca Bella Vista and Finca Mirador—have regularly earned classic scores on Wine Spectator’s 100-point scale. The winery also makes a varietal Malbec bottling, which was recently featured in Wine Spectator’s 2010 Top 100 wines, and a Malbec blend called Quimera.
Headquarted in Luxembourg, SPI owns 350 brands that are sold worldwide. Stolichnaya is the most famous, and most of the portfolio is spirits, but since 2006 the company has been expanding into wine. That year it partnered with Michael Mondavi and the Frescobaldi family on the Marchesi estates.
“All in all, I’m very happy. This increases Achával-Ferrer’s reach, while retaining its obsessive quality tradition,” said Achával. “For now, my main occupation will be barreling down a fantastic 2011 harvest that will finish tomorrow with the last 4 tons of Cabernet Sauvignon.”