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  • Writer's pictureVlad

100% Cab Franc from Argentina vs 100% Cab Franc from Italy—an intriguing comparison

Updated: Jan 6, 2021

A Cab Franc varietal probably wins my personal award in the Discovery of the Year nomination!

🍇 100% Cabernet Franc

📅 El Enemigo 2016 | Poggio Al Tesoro 2013

🌎 Los Chacayes IG, Uco Valley | Bolgheri Superiore DOC, Tuscany

⭐ JS 99 | JS 96

My first experience with Cab Franc-dominated wine was a bottle of 2008 Le Petit Cheval (65% Cabernet Franc) from Château Cheval Blanc in Saint-Émilion, whereas this was my first experience of tasting a Cab Franc varietal. DNA analysis performed in 1997  indicates that Cabernet Franc is one of two parents of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Carménère. Ampelographers (grape researchers) point that it's origin seems to lie in Basque country in the western Pyrenees (today—the Basque region of France, next to Spanish border in the southwest). 

Cabernet Franc has proven to be very robust and produce good quality wines in a variety of climates. This is a clue to its diversity of tastes, which this comparative tasting has brilliantly demonstrated. Both wines were amazing, each in its own way and both carried a piece of personality of the winemakers and stories of their families.

El Enemigo came to fruition in 2008 through effort of two persons. It's Adrianna Catena, a historian with a degree from the University of Oxford and a great granddaughter of Italian immigrant Nicola Catena, who founded Bodega Catena Zapata in 1902. His grandson and father of Adrianna, Nicolás Catena is considered a pioneer to introduce European winemaking techniques to Argentina, including introduction of Malbec. The other person is winemaker Alejandro Vigil, the former head of the soil division at Argentina’s Wine Institute, who has been the chief winemaker of Bodega Catena Zapata for more than 17 years and is known for being able to produce exceptional wines that encapsulate Mendoza’s diverse soils, terroirs, microclimates and grape types. "El Enemigo" stands for "enemy" in Spanish to connote the battles that we fight against ourselves to get out of our comfort zone and to achieve what we really want, and the label reads in Spanish: "At the end of the road, you only remember one battle, the one that you fought with yourself, the true enemy, the battle that made you unique." Despite being relatively young, the estate has gained a status of a cult wine producer. It's located in the high-altitude Uco Valley (Valle de Uco), a key winegrowing region of Mendoza.

The Poggio al Tesoro estate is a project undertaken by siblings Marilisa and Walter Allegrini from the family of historic wine producers in region of  Valpolicella in northeastern Italy, where Allegrini winery is one of the most renowned family-run estates. The Allegrinis have farmed the land in this hilly area since the 16th century and are now considered the benchmark producer of Amarone. In 2001 Marilisa and Walter founded Poggio al Tesoro in Bolgheri Superiore DOC, a legendary winemaking area in Bolgheri commune on the Tuscan Coast that in 2011 had a population of only  131. Walter, who was heart and soul of the new project, died prematurely in 2003, leaving a sense of immense loss in the entire Allegrini company and estate’s top-of-the-line wine, W Dedicato a Walter, is a dedication to his memory.

A bottle of 2016 El Enemigo Gran Enemigo comes form a single vineyard from one of the three Valle de Uco's distinct areas —Los Chacayes, located between 1000 and 1400 meters above the sea level. Soil is the result of the coalescence of a series of alluvial fans from the the Andes, very heterogeneous and generally poor. There is a presence of boulder-like stones near the bed of the Tunuyán River and there are also sandy-clayey soils. Only around 5,000 bottles of this wine are produced, making it rare and exclusive. Deep garnet colour, black cherry, red berries, leather on the nose, medium/full-bodied, well-balanced, smooth, with medium+ acidity, velvety tannins, medium finish. 

A bottle of 2013 W Dedicato a Walter  comes from Poggio al Tesoro estate. In general, Bolgheri Supperiore's territory is characterized by a special climate due to its proximity to the Mediterranean Sea: the refreshing sea breezes and the sea itself have a notable influence on the personality of these grapes. The 70 hectares of the Poggio al Tesoro estate are located in an area to the east of the hills of Castagneto Carducci covered by typical Mediterranean vegetation. The terroirs of rocky sands that deliver concentration and power were chosen to cultivate Cabernet Franc grapes. Deep red in colour, starts with a very fresh green pepper on the nose that evolves into dark berries, chocolate with herbal tones, spicy, powerful full-bodied wine with high acidity, medium+ tannins, long finish. 

Both paired nicely with USDA Prime Grade rib-eye from the US.

#winestories #winetastingnotes #italianwines #cabernetfranc #argentinawines #mendozawines #ucovalley #valledeuco #loschacayes #tuscanywines #bolgheri #bolgherisuperiore

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