Mendoza for many is the home of some of the best Argentinian Malbecs but not really on the radar for Chardonnay. Mendoza keeping us on our toes!
We try a El Enemigo 2018 Chardonnay from Mendoza. The bottle is a heavy brute enough to give the carbon neutral crowd a mental hernia.
On the nose mucho oak amigo! And it is far from discrete so I will guess this is American as opposed to French. Put aside the oak for a moment and you’ll pick up pineapple, apricot, peach and warm pineapple upside down cake just out of the oven. As I am a child of the 1960’s where these upside-down cakes were about as popular as spoon burgers. I must ask do they still make these suburban dishes? The pineapple oozes on to the palate with some slateish minerality giving the wine some gumption and traction mixed in with Australian canned peach syrup. Do they still can peaches in Australia? By gosh is this a retro wine? El Enemigo also has a couple of Bonardas so to complete a retro trilogy should I try them with spoon burgers or a Montreal Beaconsfield classic Shipwreck made so well by my late Auntie Vie. Well she wasn’t really my aunt but her husband (Uncle Cy) and my father were pilots together flying submarine patrols in Lancasters over the English Chanel in WW2 so I suppose their children could call my parents Uncle and Aunt as well as in combat a deep brotherhood apart from bloodlines can be formed. Unfortunately, my Uncle Bill died after being shot down in France at 22 years of age. A toast to you Uncle Bill.
Too much chill will bring out the oak and a more harmonious oak and fruit balance will be achieved with a cool as opposed to a cold wine here. I think it also needs a couple of years to calm down a bit so if you have a cellar a few years of ageing not exceeding 2026 will reward you.
The wine is suited for a drinker that likes a good dollop of oak in their wine but will make happy those who aren’t necessarily oak mad but realize an oaked Chardonnay might not please them as a sipping wine but has an esteemed place matching with certain foods like chicken in a tarragon cream sauce or a pasta tossed with basil and Mascarpone. Check out Alexa Weibel’s recipe for One Pot Zucchini Basil Pesto in the New York Times.
You often hear about wine and food matching or even wine and music or cannabis pairings but this wine suits a few memories I have. Wine and memory matchings are something they don’t teach you at WSET courses as I think it comes from the heart or a confused tangled mass in our heads called our brains. Have a glass and what memories does this wine irrationally spark?
(El Enemigo 2018 Chardonnay, Mendoza, Argentina, Piedemonte, Vista Flores, Mendoza Argentina, $24.95, 750 mL, 13.5%, Robert K. Stephen A Little Birdie Told Me So Rating 89/100).
James Suckling gave this a 97 and as a critic he and I are usually a couple of points apart but not this time. Whose rating is more reflective of your taste?
Photo: Left John Earnest Stephen and my Uncle Cy Walker in England during WWII