2012 Antucura La Folie Vista Flores Mendoza
Expert Rating
ST 91 points
(Read the full review below)
 
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Anne-Caroline Biancheri and Hervé Chagneau "Why?"

Even we had to ask "Why?" Given the economic turmoil in Argentina, the fiscal chaos that's all but shredded the most compelling New World wine story of the last two decades, why board a flight from JFK to Buenos Aires?

After re-reading a dozen articles about the country's rampant inflation, lawlessness, growing black market economy, and the government's determination to turn a blind eye to it all — why, after checking into our hotel, did we take that late-night walk on a town that now seems almost spooky once the lights go out?

No, nothing bad happened. Although we admit to having sighed in relief when the black Mercedes that seemed to be tracking our steps a bit too slowly and closely — causing us to take a half-dozen unnecessary right and lefts on small streets and alleyways that pushed pulse rates well into the 120s — finally slithered away into the night.

Why? The answer is simple. Over the course of the last 30 years, we've taken countless trips on the world's wine trails, knocking on cellar doors, tasting and listening as the most passionate winegrowers discuss strategies for overcoming challenges. So many times, the most daunting challenges have fueled the extraordinary success stories.

Nowhere in the wine world are the challenges greater than Argentina — and no Mendoza estate seems more likely to navigate the country's fiscal fallout than Anne-Caroline Biancheri's Antucura.

Two years ago, Anne-Caroline Biancheri parted ways with her friend and neighbor, "Flying Winemaker" Michel Rolland. Rolland had completely shaped and reformed the vines and cellar protocol at Antucura, crafting a series of big, rich, chunky Cabernets and Malbecs that drew raves from Robert Parker's Wine Advocate and Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar. But while Biancheri continues to give much of the credit for the ascent of Antucura to Rolland, she wanted to alter the style of her wines, to back off a bit from Rolland's penchant for heft and sweetness, opting instead for a more Right Bank interpretation of the high-elevation vines of Vista Flores.

Choosing to ignore the financial news out of Buenos Aires, Anne-Caroline set her sights on the guy many believe to be the most talented young winemaker in Argentina — Bordeaux émigré Hervé Chagneau, whose résumé includes stints at Châteaux Haut-Brion, Malarctic-Lagravière, and La Croix de Gay. In 2011, as the economic news was going from very bad to far worse, Biancheri's patience paid off. 2012 would be Chagneau's first complete vintage at Antucura.

For those of you who managed to squirrel away a few bottles of Antucura's staggering 95-point 2012 Malbec, you are already well-acquainted with Hervé's deft touch with high-elevation Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon. But, as we'd learn during a late-afternoon tasting that drifted into an asado dinner, accompanied by this experimental blend (consumed out of magnum) — the tiny-production "La Folie" is Chagneau's wine of the year.

A carefully constructed blend of Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc, Hervé Chagneau's 2012 "La Folie" straddles the line between Vista Flores black-fruit explosiveness and Bordeaux's Right Bank cut. Blackish-ruby to the rim with a beautifully delineated nose of black raspberry, violets, white pepper, and sweet spice. Ultra-rich on the attack, though still perfectly poised and light on its feet, broad-shouldered and finely muscled, packed with crushed-red- and black-fruit preserves, drizzled with crème de cassis. Though 15% in alcohol, there is no sense of heat or overbearing weight, as the wine's unusually firm backbone keeps all the vintage opulence in perfect check.



Tasting Notes

2012 Antucura La Folie Vista Flores Mendoza
"(15% alcohol; a winemaker's blend, consisting of 32% malbec, 30% merlot, 16% syrah, 9% each petit verdot and cabernet franc, and 4% cabernet sauvignon): Bright, dark red. Complex, refined nose melds raspberry, lavender, pepper and spices, plus a suggestion of dried fruits. The juicy flavors of red berries, spices and herbs reminded me of a southern French blend, but in a modern vein. Firmly built wine with a solid tannic spine and subtle lingering notes of lavender and spices: I like this style."
91 points -- Stephen Tanzer's, International Wine Cellar

"A carefully constructed blend of Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc, Hervé Chagneau's 2012 "La Folie" straddles the line between Vista Flores black-fruit explosiveness and Bordeaux's Right Bank cut. Blackish-ruby to the rim with a beautifully delineated nose of black raspberry, violets, white pepper, and sweet spice. Ultra-rich on the attack, though still perfectly poised and light on its feet, broad-shouldered and finely muscled, packed with crushed-red- and black-fruit preserves, drizzled with crème de cassis. Though nearly 15% in alcohol, there is no sense of heat or overbearing weight, as the wine's unusually firm backbone keeps all the vintage opulence in perfect check."
-- WineAccess Travel Log

 

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