Enamore: Budget-Friendly Amarone-Style Wine from Argentina

Wine of the Week

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Wine of the Week: Enamore by Bodega Renacer
Region & Country: Mendoza, Argentina
Price: $27

Continuing my South American travels, this week I am writing about a wonderful visit to Bodega Renacer in Argentina’s Mendoza region. There is so much to write about, but today I am going to focus on Enamore – Renacer’s seductive, opulent Amarone-style wine.

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Bodega Renacer

There are many fascinating aspects to Bodega Renacer. First, the winery, though Argentinean, was actually established by a Chilean – businessman and wine industry veteran Patricio Reich. The winery, a beautiful and architectural ode to Tuscany, sits against a backdrop of the magnificent Andes. In 2008 Patricio’s son, Pato Jr., joined his father the business and now heads up the commercial and export business. Well-traveled Pato studied at Emory University in Georgia and spent two years in NYC working for Santander Bank.

Secondly, Renacer is unique in being the only Argentinean winery to produce an Amarone-style wine. The idea for Enamore initially came from a conversation between Patricio Sr. and Marialisa Allegrini (of the famous Allegrini wine estate and Amarone producer in Italy’s Veneto region). And so begot Enamore, and a joint venture project between Renacer and Allegrini. The first vintage of Enamore was 2006.

Enamore vs. Amarone

You may want to read my previous post on Amarone for a quick 101 on the wines, which are among Italy's greatest (and most spendy).

While the wine styles and the main production processes for Enamore and Amarore are similar, there are also significant differences. For example, in Italy, for Amarone, the harvested grapes are left to dry (shrivel) in temperature controlled, ventilated rooms for about 3 to 4 months. In contrast, at Renacer for Enamore, the harvested grapes are left out on mats in the open air for just about 3 to 4 weeks.

The reason that the grapes can be left outside to dry in Mendoza is because of its much drier climate with little to no humidity. The Mendoza winds also expedite the drying process. During the drying process the grapes lose about 30% of their weight. Sugars, flavors and aroma compounds are significantly concentrated.

For Enamore, Renacer only harvests grapes from low yielding vines that are at least 50 years old.

Pato Jr. and the wonderfully knowledgeable and energetic Mariana Palmarocchi (who heads up PR and tourism activities) hosted our visit. After a very informative visit to the vineyards and explaining the Enamore concept and process we headed inside to the tasting room, where we tasted the full range of Renacer wines. However, today is about Enamore.

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Understanding Enamore

For Enamore, the dried grapes (whole bunches and berries) are carefully selected. Then they are fermented with natural yeasts in stainless steel tanks. The fermentation is fairly long and lasts about 15 to 16 days as the yeasts slowly convert the sugars in the must into alcohol. Because of the richness of the must most ‘Amarone’ wines including Enamore contain some unfermented residual sugar. In the Enamore 2011 it is 8g/l.

After fermentation Enamore is moved to barrel and aged for 12 months in small French oak barrels called barriques.

How Enamore 2011 Tastes

At Renacer we tasted the 2011 vintage of Enamore. This is the current vintage on the U.S. market. Enamore is a blend of 45% Malbec, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Bonarda and 5% Cabernet Franc.

Deep ruby in color the aromas are concentrated, opulent and complex, with layer upon layer opening up with each swirl of the glass. Notes of dried cherry, raisins, prune, spice and licorice with nuances of dried herbs and a savory earthiness. On the palate I was struck by a lovely freshness, which added a lift to the rich flavors. Tannins are evident and robust but round and supple, adding just the right frame and structure to the wine. The wine is mouth filling with an attractive creaminess to the texture. Flavors mirror the nose with stronger accents of spice and clove. Long, very persistent finish. Overall a smooth seductive wine.

While the 2011 can be enjoyed now, I would prefer to cellar a few bottles and try them in three to eight years. This wine can age, and in fact will develop a lot more complexity and finesse along the way.

Punto Final & R

While this post is about Enamore it would be remiss of me not to mention that Renacer makes a delicious and very affordable range of wines under the Punto Final brand name. You can choose from a Malbec or Cabernet Sauvignon. Each comes as either ‘classic' or 'reserva' level and retails for less than $15. But more on these in a later post. Another Renacer wine is “R”. For a special occasion or a decadent splurge. It is the Renacer ’icon’ wine and sell for about $65.

Images: Alfredo Barthelmaus, Winebow Wine Ambassador and Mary Gorman-McAdams, MW

(Image credits: Alfredo Bartholomaus; Winebow Wine Ambassador; Mary Gorman-McAdams)

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