No, that’s not a typo. The 2016 El Enemigo Chardonnay scored 98 points and I’m offering it up at one of the best prices in the country! That 98 point score came from James Suckling, who can be a bit “aggressive” with his scores, but Luis Gutierrez of the Wine Advocate also loved this one and rated it 94 points. And I’ll go ahead and chime in here — I give it 95 points. Whatever the score, it’s nearly perfect Chardonnay at a terrific price.
2016 El Enemigo Chardonnay
98 points James Suckling, 95 points JS (that’s me), 94 points Wine Advocate, 91 points Vinous Media — all have a suggested retail of $30/bottle!
Just 10 cases up for grabs — First come, first served
El Enemigo Chardonnay is the joint venture of Alejandro Vigil and Adrianna Catena. Adrianna is Nicolas Catena’s youngest daughter and Alejandro has been the head winemaker at Catena Zapata since 2002. With this wine, they decided to make something a little bit different, something a little bit riskier. It obviously worked out, as this has turned into one of Argentina’s most talked about wines.
So what’s different and risky about it? Not much, other than the fact that the wine is aged “sous voile,” or “under a veil.” In this case, the veil is the flor yeast that forms a film over the surface of the wine in the barrel. This film protects the wine from oxidation while at the same time adding nutty, sea-briny complexities that enhance the bouquet and the flavor. The most famous examples of these types of wines would be fino and/or manzanilla sherries as well as the the famed Vin Jaune (yellow wine) of France’s Jura region.
Alejandro and Adrianna are the first that I know of to bring this practice to Argentina. But whereas sherries and Vin Jaunes spend 6 years in barrel under the veil, the El Enemigo team are only leaving theirs for 13 months. The resulting wine certainly picks up some of the sous voile influence, but it’s not nearly as funky and weird as sherry or Vin Jaune. It tastes more like a very fine Chardonnay with a few years of maturation — that salted caramel, nutty thing really stands out here.
“This is really amazing with an exotic dried-fruit character of pineapple and mangoes. Full-bodied, rich and fruity with cream, pie-crust and caramel character. So says Suckling, and I don’t disagree with his tasting notes at all, though I think his score is a bit high. Luis Gutierrez of the Wine Advocate called it “superb” with “an even darker, more intense golden color but fresher aromas and flavors compared to the 2015 vintage.”
Heck, even Stephen Tanzer of Vinous Media loved it — his write-up reads like a 94-95 pointer. “Knockout nose combines fresh peach, orange zest, flowers and wild herbs.” But in true, “conservative Tanzer” fashion, he scored it 91 points, but he did say “this wine should expand with more time in bottle. Drink 2020 – 2026.”
Enough with the press. This stuff is delicious, it’s interesting, and it’s certainly affordable. I predict this one will sell out quite fast, and there’s no more to get after those cases are gone. So get by the store, pick up a bottle or a case, pick up some good brie and bread, head home, serve up, and call it a night. Alternatively, lay some down for a bit to see if Tanzer’s prediction is right. I have a feeling I’ll be seeing you soon. Until then, cheers to happy eating and drinking in Asheville.
Owner/Operator at Table Wine