Catena Zapata, “Catena” Malbec, Mendoza 2018 | Argentina

By Dirk Smits

Wine of the WeekFebruary 15, 2021

The Malbec varietal, also known as côt in its French homeland, crossed the Atlantic over 150 years ago, in particular to Argentina (which accounts for 75 percent of the world’s output). There it proved to be perfectly attuned to the lofty Mendoza region and the consistent warm, dry climate enjoyed there. Later on, the grape also settled in other regions elsewhere in the southern hemisphere.

Done well, Malbec’s wines are intense, juicy, perfumed and spicy with ripe plum and raspberry fruit. With ageing, black fruit characteristics tend to emerge — as they do in examples from the varietal’s surviving stronghold, Cahors. Wines from Cahors in the Southwest of France are normally more textured, meaty and even rustic. Malbec is commonly used in France in blends, such as with Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon to create the red Bordeaux wines.

In 1902, Nicola Catena, an Italian immigrant, planted his first vineyard in Mendoza, Argentina. The winery has remained under family control — now in its fourth generation — and is one of the few family-owned wine companies in Argentina that remains in Argentine hands. Owned today by Nicolás Catena and his daughter Laura, Catena Zapata is known as the pioneer of fine wine from Argentina, and Nicolás is recognized as the vintner who revolutionized wine quality in Argentina. A trained economist, Nicolás began this revolution in the early 1980s and continues to challenge himself and his team to make wines that can be counted among the best in the world. His measured approach to viticulture has taken its place in wine history as the pioneer of Malbec and high-altitude viticulture.

The Catena family’s estate vineyards are located in the premier growing regions of Mendoza. Nicolás believes the terroir of Mendoza’s high altitude wine country (3,000-5,000 feet above sea level) is unique to the world, and the reality of this belief is expressed in every bottle of wine he makes.

Catena Zapata, Catena Malbec, Mendoza 2018

Origin: Mendoza, Argentina
Varietals: 100% Malbec
Sustainability: sustainable practices
Suggested retail price: $18
ABV: 13.6%

This wine goes through an extensive cold maceration for five days to extract aromas. The juice is then fermented for 12 days with a post-fermentation maceration of 19 to 22 days. The wine is aged for one year in second and third use barrels.

The Catena Malbec 2018 shows a deep violet color with purple hues. It offers intense aromas of ripe dark fruit with a touch of delicate violet and lavender notes, vanilla and cocoa. In the mouth, flavors of ripe berries, some mocha and nicely judged oak, together with a savory complexity and ripe tannin, contribute to the long and elegant finish.

Suggested food pairings: roast turkey, grilled steak, sausages, grilled vegetables, pasta with red sauce, cheese.

> For more information, visit the Catena Zapata official website.

> Watch Sophie Gayot‘s exclusive video interview with Laura Catena.