by Guest Contributor Fernando Vigón

I took the advantage of a recent long week-end in Huesca to carry out a comprehensive tasting of one most of the exciting vineyards in the Spanish wine landscape, Enate.

Born in 1991 under Nozaleda’s brother’s businesslike mindset Enate is today the spearhead of Somontano, ten years ago an unknown local area in northern Aragon (Huesca) and now one of the coolest D.O. in Spain. Its blending largely based on French grapes, cabernet, merlot, chardonnay…… has made quite a name for itself. Its image carefully crafted, don’t dare to miss the labels, high workmanship and a product range with the right balance between top and value-for- money wines turned the emerging superstar vineyard into an impressive success.

I am very keen on the ENATE CABERNET SAUVIGNON-MERLOT, 6 €, Cabernet Sauvignon 50%, Merlot 50% and not only due to its price. Purple cherry, an aroma of ripe dark fruits, blackcurrant, blackberry, maybe with a hint of vanilla and green herbs. Powerful and flavoursome in mouth. Firm and tannic finish. A real bargain.

In the same price bracket you must not fail to try the ENATE CRIANZA, 9 €, Tempranillo 70%, Cabernet Sauvignon 30%. Matured for nine months in oak and 18 months in bottle. It is made in international style, with sweet black currant, and berry fruit with toasty oak? Ripe, dense, medium to full bodied. It will drink well for over 5 to 7 years.

I am not going to elaborate on the ENATE MERLOT-MERLOT, 21€, 100% Merlot. To my mind the best merlot in Spain nowadays, I wrote about it in this blog last spring.

I have a soft spot for Enate’s flagship the RESERVA ESPECIAL 96, 65 € -yes, in spite of the price- , a blending of Cabernet Sauvignon 55%, Merlot 45%. Matured for 18 months in French oak barrels and 24 months in bottle before released for sale. A classic, it shows a dark ruby colour and sweet oaky scents mingled with jammy raspberry, perhaps a touch of coffee and floral scent (according to my wife). Dense, superbly concentrated, with elegant tannins and nicely integrated wood. A knock out.

How do you top that?

Well, with ENATE VARIETALES DEL DOS MIL DOS another blending but this one with Merlot 33%, Tempranillo 25%, Cabernet Sauvignon 36% and Syrah 6%. The stunning nose reveals scents of blackberry and raspberry fruit intermixed with oregano-my wife dixit-. With awesome concentration, full bodied, this complex but firmly structured blending needs 2 or 3 more years of cellaring after which should at least last for another 15 years. A top notch wine

There is also much to be said about whites. The ENATE CHARDONNAY FERMENTADO EN BARRICA 2004 is greatly superior to most Spanish chardonnay….and cheaper too. A 16, 5 € bottle 100 % Chardonnay.

The light coloured 2004 is fully matured, elegant, fruit driven push. Medium body, plenty of floral, balanced acidity; it will last at least for another couple of years

I must admit a certain weakness for the GEWÜRZTRAMINER -100 % Gewürztraminer. It is an excellent pairing with cheese, any of them, please forget about watering down cheese with Viña Ardanza and try something different. It is a golden-coloured, with sharp aromas of nuts, lavender and spices -my wife again-. Weighty and luxurious, rich in mouth, exotic, it is worth giving it a try.

The last wine to join the fray is the ENATE UNO’2003 CHARDONNAY 100%. Unfortunately I have been unable to taste it. And when I say fortune I mean fortune because it is worth 300 € with a production of only 740 bottles. Hand picked grapes, stored in small cases, is the most ambitious white wine ever made in Spain. The wine remained in casks from August 2003 until April 2005. This wine is aged with its lees, neither clarified nor stabilized. To my mind a real challenge in a country plagued with prejudices against our blancos.

I am looking forward to tasting it.

Breaking news. In the wake of the Merlot-Merlot, Enate is to launch a Shyra-Shyra shortly. I will keep you posted.