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WL Rating: 3.5 out of 5 based on 1 rating

Allegrini + Renacer "Enamore" Malbec, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Bonarda 2009


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    There seems to be something of a fashion for expansion in Italian wine at the moment. Famed Venetian winemakers Masi have given birth to Masi Tupungato in Argentina, Tuscan superstars Antinori have invested in Puglia through Tormaresca, Cesari (another Venetian winery) is eying up Brazil and Allegrini have landed themselves a form of co-operation with renowned Argentinean winemaker Renacer. This Allegrini + Renacer “Enamore” is the fruit of this co-operation.

    Marketed under the rather daft marketing slogan of “Scramble the words in Amarone and you get Enamore”, Renacer + Allegrini’s “Enamore” points immediately to Allegrini’s heritage. A leading producer in Verona, North West Italy since the 16th Century, Allegrini’s winery sits in the heart of the Valpolicella DOC area and produces copious quantities of Valpolicella, Valpolicella Ripasso and of course, the jewel in the crown of all Veronese wineries – Amarone della Valpolicella. The thing that sets Amarone apart in the world, is that is a dry red wine made from air-dried and shrivelled grapes. This air drying (known as the “appassimento” process in Northern Italy) concentrates the flavours of a blend of Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara grapes and produces a full, rich and alcoholic (!) style of wine.

    Renacer on the other hand is known for its 100% varietal Malbec wines. Dark, brambly and inherently South American, Renacer’s wines come from a selection of vineyards in Perdriel, within Lujan du Cuyo (Mendoza) – recognised as one of the best areas for growing Malbec in Argentina and possibly the world.

    At first it would appear that Allegrini and Renacer might make a rather ugly couple, but in fact there is more in common than there would seem. Considering that Renacer is run by an Italian winemaker, with a winery built in a Tuscan style, with a dedication to similarly high quality and continuous innovation, all it took was a visit from Allegrini’s winemaker Marilisa Allegrini to Renacer, for the idea of an Amarone-styled Argentinean wine to germinate.

    Around two thirds Malbec, with the rest of the wine made up of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Bonarda, the grapes destined for inclusion in this Allegrini + Renacer “Enamore” are picked by hand from vines more than 50 years old, located in vineyards around 1000 metres above sea level. This high altitude is one of the most important factors in shaping the flavour of Argentinean wines, with additional exposure to ultra violet light causing grape skins to thicken adding intensity to their fruit’s flavours. After picking, “Enamore” grapes are laid out to dry (in the “appassimento” style of Enamore’s Veronese counterpart - Amarone) until around a third of their weight has been lost. The grapes are then pressed, before initial fermentation in steel tanks, followed by 12 months aging in French oak barriques (small oak barrels) before bottling.

    Speaking of bottles, I notice that Allegrini and Renacer have changed the shape of this “Enamore” bottle since the 2008 vintage. Previously a low-shouldered Burgundy style bottle, this 2009 Allegrini + Renacer “Enamore” is presented in a tall, high shouldered Bordeaux style bottle. Disappointingly the cork is an apparently low quality, reconstituted, chipboard type affair that may not withstand aging as well a non-reconstituted cork.

    In the glass, this Allegrini + Renacer “Enamore” is a deep and intense bramble with scarlet flashes becoming more obvious towards the rim. A flare of vivid Malbec violet highlights the rim of the wine in the glass which develops into a luminescent aura when swirled. Considering that this Allegrini + Renacer “Enamore” is made with dried grapes, a technique which can easily yield up to 16.5% in alcohol in Verona due to the concentration of naturally occurring sugars that occurs, sizeable but not excessive legs show an alcohol content of 14.5%.

    On the nose, blackberries, sweet black cherry, figs and a little raisin are present. Open and expressive, a waft of fleshy malbec plums also deepens this Allegrini + Renacer “Enamore’s” complex perfume.

    In the mouth, cassis and boysenberry lead the way, with plums offering the palate of this Allegrini + Renacer “Enamore” a sleek underbody. Initially a little sweet (but not overly so), the flavour develops into a long and smooth finish, punctuated by lumps of hefty Bonarda fruit. The finish is dry with a lingering note of raisins. A rich and smooth wine without being overpowering, the beauty of this Allegrini + Renacer "Enamore" is that despite the inherent richness and strength of the flavours, the wine as a whole never comes across as overly heavy or blunt. Sublime, subtle, nuanced and smooth it’s excellence creeps up on you as it caresses the inside of your mouth.

    Allegrini + Renacer “Enamore” (2009)

    Score: 93/100 – Sublime, subtle and nuanced. Outstanding.

    Value for Money: 7/10 – Over four times the price of the average bottle sold in the UK but I can’t help but think this would cost twice as much if it were an Amarone of such quality made in Italy.

    Posted by TheIndependentWineReview on September 13th, 2011 at 6:07am | report comment

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