2011 Casarena Sinergy Reserva Red Blend Mendoza
Expert Rating
ST 91 points
(Read the full review below)
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Steve Spurrier,  Marcelo Waldheim -- GM, & Wine Maker Bernardo Bossi Jack and the Beanstalk in Agrelo

When we left Santiago for Mendoza in 2012, we knew we'd created a monster. Between 2009 and 2011, we lured many of you to WineAccess with a steady diet of Napa Valley Cabernet bargains. But with the storm clouds clearing as a result of a rebounding economy and four consecutive short vintage harvests, those 50%-off Tuesdays would soon be a thing of the past. The pressure was on.

That trip to Mendoza led to the discovery of a handful of superb Argentine estates, operated and managed by some of the greatest winemakers in the world. The Catenas, Roberto de La Mota (Unus), Michel Rolland, Susana Balbo, Paul Hobbs and young winemakers like Bernardo Bossi, were turning out stunning Cabernets and Malbecs that would give Napa Valley all it could handle.

We trekked through dozens of vineyards in the high ground, all irrigated by runoff from the snowcapped Andes. Some were surprising. But none were more bizarre than the Jack-and-the-Beanstalk Cabernet Sauvignon at Casarena.

French enologist Michel Rolland is the most revered consulting enologist the world has ever known. Ever since Robert Parker shined a spotlight on Michel's full-throttle 1982 Bordeaux, Rolland has been able to pick his clients -- and name his price.

In 2009, while in Mendoza, a friend asked Rolland to take a look at one of Argentina's oldest Cabernet plantings. Cordial as he is brilliant, the Flying Winemaker whose hands have been all over 100-pointers from Harlan Estate, Bryant Family, Bond, and Araujo, did as was asked, and made the trek out to the hallowed high ground of Agrelo.

When we first laid eyes on the historic Casarena vineyard, we did a double-take. Land was dirt cheap in the 1930s, so the vineyard had been planted to unusually wide spacing, facilitating manual farming practices. The vista was magnificent, the ancient vines in the forefront, the blinding white snow-capped Andes looming behind. But far more astonishing than the view or the thick trunks of these gnarly plants were the height of the vines.

Michel Rolland stands 5'8" tall. The 80-year-old Casarena Cabernet Sauvignon towered over him, eight feet off the ground. The last thing Rolland needed was another client, but after walking the vineyard, he was won over. He signed up on the spot.

Just four years later, Casarena's star has risen. Earlier this year, at high-brow Decanter Magazine's prestigious tasting, a panel of Master of Wine judges awarded Casarena Gold Medal and Best of Show honors. You're about to find out why.

Winemaker Bernardo Bossi's 2011 Casarena Sinergy Reserve is an extravagant mix of power and restraint, a full-throttle blend of old-vine Malbec and that 80-year-old Cabernet Sauvignon. Picked ultra-ripe, a long, cool maceration nursed out deep purple color and immense extraction, pushing the envelope on black fruit intensity. Fermented in 50% new French cooperage, and bottled shortly after the 2012 harvest, Bossi seems to have brilliantly tweaked Rolland's cellar recipe, marrying plush Napa-like concentration with soft, sumptuous tannic backbone.

Stephen Tanzer remains the stingiest and most eloquent critic in the world. Nowhere is the New Yorker tougher than he is with his Argentine ratings. This time, Tanzer couldn't hold back, calling the 2011 Sinergy "Juicy, spicy and quite suave, with a restrained sweetness and a silky texture ... gentle in the middle, then firmly tannic and serious on the long, broad, chocolatey back end." Then he lobbed on 91 points as high as the IWC ever goes for an under-$16 Mendoza red.

Tasting Notes

2011 Casarena Sinergy Reserva Red Blend Mendoza
"Bright red-ruby. Black raspberry, licorice and bitter chocolate aromas are accented by pepper and herbs and lifted by a violet nuance. Juicy, spicy and quite suave, with a restrained sweetness and a silky texture to the understated flavors of black fruits, spices and mocha. Gentle in the middle, then firmly tannic and serious on the long, broad, chocolatey back end. A very successful blend."
91 points -- Stephen Tanzer, International Wine Cellar


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