Monday, February 14, 2011

In Amore with Enamore

Boo is working this Valentine's Day evening. Consequently, there's no passionate night of romance, fine food or wine planned for Cupid's celebrations this week. Boo does love his cochon though and I'd picked up some pork belly the other day. I also had a bottle that I'd been dying to open and was waiting for an appropriate occasion. An early Valentine's pour seemed spot on.

I didn't know that Boo had asked Mr. D to join us for dinner, but what the hey. If pork belly and fine wine is a recipe for romance, it was just going to have to be a menage-a-trois. Besides, Mr. D brought the tulips.

724. 2008 Allegrini + Bodega Renacer - Enamore (Mendoza - Argentina)

Enamore was one of my favourite discoveries at last year's Vancouver Playhouse Wine Festival. Renacer was participating for the first time at the event as Argentina was one of the featured regions in 2010. The wine stood out - not only because it was a pleasure to drink (I actually kept this one and didn't simply taste and spit) - but because I hadn't expected to find an amarone-style wine from the Argentine producers.

Renacer is a relatively new operation in Mendoza. The winery was only built in 2004; but that has allowed them to build with state of the art Italian technology. Despite being less than a decade old though, many of the vineyards owned by Renacer have Malbec vines that are over 50 years of age. As Renacer is best known for its Malbec, they were able to open with a running start.

I'd actually hoped to visit the Renacer winery when Boo and I were in Mendoza last Fall; however, the winery was closed the week that we were going to be in town. I did, however, find a bottle of Enamore in one of the Mendoza wine stores. I was determined that this had to be one of the four bottles that we'd be able to legally bring back through Canadian Customs.

As mentioned, the Enamore is a play on Amarone - both in name and style. The grapes used are anything but the varietals used in traditional Italian Amarone. Not surprisingly, the wine has a backbone of Malbec (62%) with Cab Franc, Cab Sauv, Syrah and Bonarda making up the balance of the blend - none of those grapes make it into an Amarone blend. Regardless of the varietals used, the "appassimento" method of semi-drying grapes is front and centre in the wine's production.

The idea of attempting this style was first considered during a visit to the winery by Marilisa Allegrini, a principal at one of the leading producers of Amarone in the Veneto. She felt that the climate and dry winds coming off the nearby Andes mountains would be ideal to expose the harvested grapes to until the grapes had lost about a third of their weight and water. Winemakers from both wineries then collaborated in using the concentrated flavours and sugars to produce a wine that has a deep, rich nose and dark, ripe fruits on the palate. As the concentrated sugars are plentiful when the grapes are pressed, not all of the sugars are converted into alcohol and, accordingly, there is some residual sugar remaining on the wine but I don't find the slight sweetness to be so prominent that you still can't enjoy the wine with dinner - and the richness of the fat in the pork belly matched well with the richness of the wine.

I've yet to actually see a bottle of Enamore for sale in Vancouver, but Renacer does have representation in the province and I'll be sure to grab another bottle when I finally do find a bottle on the shelf. A merging of New World and Old World, it's a wine that's easy to fall in love with. I certainly did.

As for there being no actual Valentine's celebration, I think I should get some bonus points for remembering that it was imminent and planning for this bottle in advance. No?

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