El Enemigo Malbec 2015
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Fermented with full clusters, the 2015 El Enemigo Malbec feels a bit closed and has a reductive personality, so decanting in advance could be a good idea. It's taken from four hectares in the Adrianna Vineyard in Gualtallary and was co-fermented with a bit of Cabernet Franc. This is a serious, subtle and mineral Malbec, with some austerity and a nicely textured palate. This is a serious red, only eclipsed by the Gran Enemigo bottlings. It's not really about the variety, even though it has the best Malbec grapes, as they do not have any other pure Malbec; it's mineral and precise, vertical and very fresh for 2015. 22,800 bottles produced. Rating: 93+
El Enemigo translates as the enemy. Nodding to the fact that at the end of any journey, most remember only one battle — the one fought within (the original enemy). This is the battle that defines us. The wines of El Enemigo are a tribute to those internal battles that make us who we are, brought to fruition by a winemaker, Alejandro Vigil, and a historian, Adrianna Catena who share a love of wine and reach back in time to capture the era when European immigrants first settled in Argentina. These settlers sought to make wines as fine, and finer, than those of their old homeland. By 1936, Malbec and Petit Verdot were the most widely planted fine varietals in Argentina, their blend considered the ultimate in refinement and aging potential.
By far the largest and best-known winemaking province in Argentina, Mendoza is responsible for over 70% of the country’s enological output. Set in the eastern foothills of the Andes Mountains, the climate is dry and continental, presenting relatively few challenges for viticulturists during the growing season. Mendoza, divided into several distinctive sub-regions, including Luján de Cuyo and the Uco Valley, is the source of some of the country’s finest wines.
For many wine lovers, Mendoza is practically synonymous with Malbec. Originally a Bordelaise variety brought to Argentina by the French in the mid-1800s, here it found success and renown that it never knew in its homeland where a finicky climate gives mixed results. Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot and Pinot Noir are all widely planted here as well (and sometimes even blended with each other or Malbec). Mendoza's main white varieties include Chardonnay, Torrontés, Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon.
Known for its big, bold flavors and supple texture, Malbec is most famous for its runaway success in Argentina. However, the variety actually originated in Bordeaux, where it historically contributed color and tannin to blends. After being nearly wiped out by a devastating frost in 1956, it was never significantly replanted, although it continued to flourish under the name Côt in nearby Cahors. A French agronomist who saw great potential for the variety in Mendoza’s hot, high-altitude landscape, brought Malbec to Argentina in 1868. But it did not gain its current reputation as the country's national grape until a surge in popularity in the late 20th century.
In the Glass
Malbec typically expresses deep flavors of blackberry, plum and licorice, appropriately backed by aromas of freshly turned earth and dense, chewy tannins. In warmer, New World regions, such as Mendoza, Malbec will be intensely ripe, and full of fruit and spice. From its homeland in Cahors, its rusticity shines; dusty notes and a beguiling bouquet of violets balance rich, black fruit.
Malbec’s rustic character begs for flavorful dishes, like spicy grilled sausages or the classic cassoulet of France’s Southwest. South American iterations are best enjoyed as they would be in Argentina: with a thick, juicy steak.
If you’re trying to please a crowd, Malbec is generally a safe bet. With its combination of bold flavors and soft tannins, it will appeal to basically anyone who enjoys red wine. Malbec also wins bonus points for affordability, as even the most inexpensive examples are often quite good.