El Enemigo is the side project of Alejandro Vigil, the winemaker of Catena Zapata. Adrianna Zapata, the youngest daughter of Nicolas Zapata, is an equal shareholder. She lives in London, but it was probably a condition to allow this project to go ahead. I had an opportunity to taste the whole range of their wines. And what a world-class tasting it was. Alejandro shows his excitement about these wines; he can now do what he wants, not limited by the ‘corporate’ Catena Zapata. And what he wants is to focus on Cabernet Franc. There is Malbec, of course, but the real excitement is about Cabernet Franc. There is a Chardonnay in the range, and then two lines, El Enemigo and Gran El Enemigo.
The Chardonnay, from 2016, is the first big surprise. This stone fruit based wine has nutty characters as well and is very complex, while maintaining freshness, and this for $25/bottle (95 points).
The El Enemigo range includes a Shiraz/Viognier, a Malbec, a Cabernet Franc and a Bonarda, all from 2014. These wines show individual varieties very well (91-94 points), with the Cabernet Franc the highlight. It tastes of blue fruits, spices and soft tannins; no greenness here, which often characterizes 100% Cabernet Franc.
The Gran El Enemigo range comes from higher altitude vineyards in the Uco Valley, which are planted at a density of 10,000 to 12,000 plants per ha. The blend of five Bordeaux varieties is an easy drinking style. The next four wines are all single vineyard Cabernet Franc (with a bit of Malbec thrown in). The Agrelo is from 930m altitude and quite soft in style.
The last three wines are terrific. The Chacayes is fresh and elegant, with a fine spice mix and intense flavours (94 points). The El Chepillo is my favourite. It hits the palate with a great punch - a racy wine of superb intensity and depth, yet fresh (97 points).
The last wine is the only wine from 2013, the Gualltalary. There is a reason for this. This is the first pure Cabernet Franc to ever receive 100 points from Robert Parker. I think it is the only Mendoza wine to ever receive 100 points from him. This wine is very composed and elegant, with a long finish, but it is not a 100 pointer (96 points). The El Chepillo has more character, and when I later spoke with Alejandro, he said the El Chepillo was his preferred wine.
This was an outstanding tasting, showcasing the incredible talents of Alejandro Vigil. I have never known that 100% Cabernet Franc could taste this good. It can be a complete wine. If you come across these wines, you must try them.