29 May 2020

Over the last few years, I have been selling the wines from a project that’s now become one of the standard-bearers in South America for some of the finest Cabernet Franc made, not just there but in the whole world. While Malbec is the grape most commonly associated with the top wines from Argentina (and the Catena family, for that matter), Alejandro and Adrianna have struck gold with their high-elevation Cabernet Franc grown along the rocky hillsides of the Andes. As the head winemaker at Catena Zapata for over fifteen years, Alejandro Vigil knows the vineyards and terrain of Argentina like few others. The crown jewel of the El Enemigo lineup is the Gualtallary Single Vineyard. It has moved well beyond simply being a highly rated “curveball” to throw into a blind tasting against other top Cabernet Franc based wines from across the world. The Wine Advocate ratings for the last five vintages of the El Enemigo Gualtallary tell an awfully compelling numerical story: 98 points (2011), 98+ points (2012), 100 points (2013), 98 points (2014), and 98 points (2015).

Three other single vineyards are also bottled (Agrelo, Chacayes, and El Cepillo), each offering a distinct expression of Cabernet Franc with high-90s scores of their own over a number of vintages.

Add in the Gran Enemigo Red (Bordeaux) blend with the highest score it has ever received from the Wine Advocate, there is a pretty compelling line up of wines to consider.

With this in mind, I am pleased to offer the 2016 vintage as a pre-release available for delivery later this year.

The single Vineyards 

6 x 75cl, 2016 Bodega Aleanna Gran Enemigo Single Vineyard Gualtallary @ £275.00 per case.
1 x 150cl (Magnum) @  £100.00 per case.
1 x 300cl (Double Magnum) @ £195.00 per case.

99 points…..“The nose of the 2016 Gran Enemigo Gualtallary Single Vineyard transported me back to the classical wines from the Bordeaux of yesteryear, with austerity and with no room for sweetness or creamy texture. This is about chalk and umami, salty and tasty, with the clout and wilderness of Gualtallary; its electric freshness and fine tannins; the expression of Cabernet Franc (with some Merlot) in the poor, stony and limestone-rich soils from the high-altitude vineyards; and the intensity this altitude provides, as there is a strong impact from the light in the grapes. But the one thing that I liked the most about this 2016 was its balance and the way it feels light but has tremendous concentration and power, light on its feet with masses of inner strength. It’s nuanced and complex, even if it’s terribly young. With time in the glass, it developed notes of orange peel that spoke of freshness, and the palate is sharp and direct, with symmetry and precision. This is approachable now but should live forever in bottle. 2,500 bottles produced.” – Luis Gutierrez, Wine Advocate.

6 x 75cl, 2016 Bodega Aleanna Gran Enemigo Single Vineyard Agrelo @ £265.00 per case.

1 x 150cl (Magnum) @  £96.00 per case.
1 x 300cl (Double Magnum) @ £188.00 per case.

“96 points…..”As with all the other wines, the 2016 Gran Enemigo Agrelo Single Vineyard showed more freshness than its sibling from 2015, and the exotic note of Indian bazaar—a recurring note in this bottling—was subtler and in the background, leaving room for more nuance and filigree but with that curry-like twist in there. The palate shows more tension and feels more fluid, with a nice core of cherry-pit freshness. This is surprisingly good, because the year was not easy in the zone, and this clearly transcends the conditions of the harvest. 2016 was a shorter crop, and there are 5,500 bottles of this. It was bottled at the end of 2018.” – Luis Gutierrez, Wine Advocate.

6 x 75cl, 2016 Bodega Aleanna Gran Enemigo Single Vineyard Cepillo @ £265.00 per case.

1 x 150cl (Magnum) @  £96.00 per case.

1 x 300cl (Double Magnum) @ £188.00 per case.

97+ points…..“These single-vineyard bottlings are like a snapshot of the place, and the 2016 Gran Enemigo El Cepillo Single Vineyard captures the wilderness and the (scarce) local vegetation of the place: thyme, rosemary, rockrose—austere and perfumed but not exotic. The cracked black peppercorn note on the palate reminded me that this is (mostly) a Cabernet Franc, with its fine-grained tannins and its long and dry finish. 2016 was an unusual year, with lots of rain and cooler temperatures that complicated things in many places, but it was exceptional in many high-altitude locations within the Valle de Uco where El Cepillo is. This is both powerful and delicate, while the 2015 is more direct. This is simply superb. 4,000 bottles were filled in late 2018.” – Luis Gutierrez, Wine Advocate.

6 x 75cl, 2016 Bodega Aleanna Gran Enemigo Single Vineyard Chacayes @ £265.00 per case.

1 x 150cl (Magnum) @  £96.00 per case.

1 x 300cl (Double Magnum) @ £188.00 per case.

96+ points…..“There is more of everything in this 2016 Gran Enemigo Chacayes Single Vineyard. It’s compact and seamless, with great purity, and more concentrated than the 2015 but with terrific balance, as the acidity (which is very high but you don’t feel it) helps to counterbalance the massive palate and provide the necessary freshness. This is a beast that is going to age effortlessly for a good 15 years in bottle. All these wines age in used oak foudres for almost one-and-a-half years and are usually bottled around Christmas two years after the harvest. 5,000 bottles were filled in December 2018.” – Luis Gutierrez, Wine Advocate.

Finally with its highest score of 97 points the Bordeaux Blend.

6 x 75cl, 2016 Bodega Aleanna Gran Enemigo Red Blend @ £180.00 per case.

1 x 150cl (Magnum) @ £67.00 per case.
1 x 300cl (Double Magnum) @ £127.00 per case.

97+ points……..”The varietal blend of the 2016 Gran Enemigo is slightly different from the 2015 I tasted next to it; here, there’s a bit more Cabernet Franc and less Cabernet Sauvignon, so 20% Cabernet Franc, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, 50% Malbec, 10% Merlot and 5% Petit Verdot; but the wine was produced exactly the same: vinification (wild fermentation, shortish maceration) and élevage (in large used French oak vats), so what we see here are the differences provided by the year. 2016 was a very unusual vintage when they saw more rain than ever (they didn’t irrigate the vineyards), and the average temperature was much lower. It was not an easy year, especially in the classical zone of Mendoza, but in Gualtallary, where these grapes come from, it was a truly excellent harvest, one of the best in recent times (until 2018 came).

The wine is fresher and more nuanced than the 2015, and there is clout and power but also a lot of finesse and elegance. The palate revealed superb harmony and very fine tannins, the acidity is very integrated and the wine is seamless, with fine chalky minerality and a bitterness in the finish that is salty rather than sweet. There is no room for sweetness in any of these wines; these are savoury wines, powerful wines with superb balance and all the ingredients to develop slowly and for a very long time in bottle and destined for the dining table. It fills your mouth, but it’s not heavy; it’s powerful but feels ethereal. This is probably the finest vintage for this bottling so far. 19,200 bottles were filled in December 2018 from a shorter crop than previous years.” – Luis Gutierrez, Wine Advocate.

Thank you.

Alex

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