El Enemigo is the ground-breaking venture by Adrianna Catena, the youngest daughter of Nicolas Catena and Alejandro Vigil, soil expert and Chief Winemaker of Bodega Catena Zapata. While Nicolas Catena Zapata remains at the forefront of Argentinian Malbec, El Enemigo produces wines modelled on Cabernet Franc-dominated, old-style Right Bank Bordeaux wines (think Cheval Blanc or Chateau Lafleur). Cabernet Franc is seeing somewhat of a resurgence on the fine wine market and El Enemigo lay claim to being one of the finest producers of the variety in the world.
“Without a doubt one of the leading names in the whole of Argentina” Luiz Gutierrez (WA)
Cool climate, elegant and age-worthy Cabernet Franc
El Enemigo was born out of a mutual love of Pomerol-style Bordeaux and aims to create cool-climate Cabernet Franc that delivers the intensity and grippy tannins so loved. Nestled in the foothills of the Andes, El Enemigo is based in Mendoza’s high-altitude winemaking region Maipu with vineyard sites up to 1,470m above sea level. The high-altitude helps to mitigate hot days and cool nights, and the intense daytime sunlight coupled with well-drained soils enables the team to create deep, rich wines of great balance.
The fruit of their labour is quite brilliant. The estate boasts a vast array of cuvees: from their ever popular Bordeaux blend, Gran Enemigo, which is a Cabinet Franc-dominant with Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot and Merlot too; to their single vineyard Cabernet Franc which display the very best of Mendoza and the Valle de Uco. Indeed, they hold the highest rating ever given to a Cabernet Franc lead wine by Robert Parker’s The Wine Advocate, who awarded 100 points to the 2013 Gran Enemigo Cabernet Franc Gualtallary. Also planted at high-altitude on deep, rocky calcareous soils are their Chardonnay vines, and at slightly lower altitude on clay soils, Semillon. Whilst lesser known than their red wines, these white varieties excel in the cool climate resulting in epic wines that rival their Old World counterparts, whilst remaining extremely affordable .
Marrying old and new
In the winery, concrete eggs are used in conjunction with 100 year old Alsatian foudres (barrels) originally from Italy that have been re-toasted and reassembled in Mendoza. In a nod to the traditional use of oak barrels that echo those used in Mendoza over 100 years ago, the gentleness of this wood brings out the true character of cool climate Cabernet Franc; elegant and age-worthy.
It is a desire to understand and express their individual parcels which drives this pair to create complex and superlative wines that have been successful world over. Each cuvee from El Enemigo arrives in its own original wooden case and offers a cerebral experience usually associated with some of Bordeaux’s finest wines. Creating wines which are deep, rich and mineral, whilst offering enormous value for money versus their old world peers, this is an estate that the team here often turn to for expressive typicity and ‘bang for buck’ value.