Bring Me the Head of Enzo Bianchi

The last BiG tasting down here of the year, 2023, was quite a unique vertical tasting of the Argentine Grand Cru Tinto known as Enzo Bianchi, produced in the best years only at Bodega Bianchi in southern Mendoza, at the village of San Rafael. The vintages we tasted where 1994 (the first vintage produced) through until 2018 (the latest vintage produced at the Bodega Bianchi) including the following wines:

1996, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2014…

I would call that a pretty comprehensive line up, and of course with a a little play-gerism to boot from the title of one of my favourate Hollywood movies. ´´Traeme la Cabeza de Alfredo Garcia´´ Sam Peckinpah (1974)

Thanks to Rafael Bianchi, grandson of Enzo, and a few volunteer/collector bottles along with pourer chum Juan we where able to taste from the horse´s mouth, as it where.

´´I can smell shit 100 miles away…sometimes closer´´ (W.Oates as Bennie in that ’74 Peckinpah movie).

Now, if we go all the way back to Anthony Hanson´s (M.W.) Burgundy book just simply called ‘Burgundy’ from the 1980s, and regularly still referred to for the Master of Wine course/examination. He mentioned that great wine should smell of shit. In this case he was of course referring to Bourgogne Rouges (aka = Pinot Noir). However, I have now found a new smelly wine with a hi-olphalic-reputation amongst the local vinous cognoscente. There is no Pinot Noir in sight here at all, as we are focused on a subtle blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (always around 70% or more for Enzo B), Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Caladoc, Petit Verdot & poor old Malbec. 

The youngest vintage tasted, 2018, had an intense red colour with purple hues (almost Bdx). On the nose I found herbal, cedarwood & spicey (Mgx´ish) fresh hints. Ripe black fruit, dark chocolate and vanilla. Complex, softly tannic and super balance.

Going back to 1999 vintage, which was my favourate wine of the evening, I had this to say:

The nose really smelt clean and young. I was curious! 24 years after the vintage and I could still find fresh cassis and cedarwood, buffed in with blueberry and old school tobacco. What a treat! In good shape and with no sign of giving up the ghost, yet!

Why is it that I love this type of vertical tasting so much? In one word = Evolution!

The slow change of vinous characteristics, the unfolding of flavours from different vintages and of course through time well spent in a good cellar. As you know it is not easy to find good bottles of older Mendocian wines. In the case of Enzo Bianchi, I would suggest that if you can find a bottle, buy one and drink it.

After the vertical, we headed off the following day for a light end of year lunch with friends. The frogs provided the material and our local wine importer delivered the wares. ”L’elegancia de Francia”

2014 Sylvaner ‘Lutzeltal’ Agathe Bursen, Westhalten
Old vine Sylvaner from our favourate producer. Citrusy and herbal all in one dry honey melon finish. More please! and by goodness it went well with our truffled liver pate on toasted brioche.

2017 L’Hermitage Blanc from J-L Chave, you know where from.
Huge butter-almond nose coming from it’s deep golden hue liquid. Full thrust on the palate. Perfect balance, dry peaches and cream and a finish that tells me this wine will be good for the next 25+ years, if you can wait that long. I can’t! Roast belly of pork with all the apple sauce and trimmings available. I will repeat!

2019 Chapelle d’Ausone, Saint-Emilion
I have been waiting patiently to drink this since En Primeur’19s. Purple-Ronnie (remember him?) thrusting full dark liquorice and soft tannins. Long, clean and chewy dark fruits. Decanted to breath for minimum 2 hours before lunch. The crackling and truffled mash potato made me think that I was in a goddam Michelin Star Bistro and not just at home at the dining room table, enjoying all with chums.

2019 La Totora, Valle Calingasta, San Juan
A suprise from the local vinoteca. Artisinal Eton Mess a la WPH washed down with this San Jaunaista Tinto that oozed almost more strawberries than the Messi-mess could. Fresh, unfiltered and new age! An experimental delight, a bit like life!

Please, may I take this opportunity to wish you all a very **Merry Christmas** where ever you are in this beautiful Vinous World of ours! and see you in 2024!

  • ¡Feliz Navidad! Joyeux Noël! 
  • Frohe Weihnachten! Buon Natale! Feliz Natal! Crăciun Fericit! 
  • Счастливого Рождества! (Schastlivogo Rozhdestva!) God Jul! 
  • Glædelig Jul! Hyvää Joulua! Gleðileg Jól! 
  • Wesołych Świąt! Vrolijk Kerstfeest! Sretan Božić! Veselé Vánoce!
  • メリークリスマス! (Merīkurisumasu!)诞节快乐! (Shèngdàn jié kuàilè!)
  • 메리 크리스마스!(Meli Keuliseumaseu!) Felicem Natalem Christi! 

and for our Irish friends……Nollaig Shona!

December 2023, Buenos Aires