Michael Broadbent, Angelo Gaja, Baron Eric de Rothschild, Serge Hochar and other iconic figures of the wine world have paid tribute to Decanter’s Man of the Year 2009 – Nicolas Catena.
At a dinner at the Argentinian ambassador’s residence in London, Decanter publishing director Sarah Kemp described the inspiration that drives the renowned Mendoza producer.
‘Around the world, wine lovers think no more of buying an Argentinian wine than they do a French or Australian one. The reason is largely down to you. You have the vision, courage and drive to show the world that great wines can be made in Argentina.’
Interview with Nicolas Catena
Catena, his wife Elena and daughters Laura and Adrianna – the former now runs Catena Zapata along with her brother Ernesto – welcomed 50 guests, including a clutch of previous Men of the Year: Broadbent, Gaja, Rothschild, Hochar, and Hugh Johnson and Anthony Barton of Chateau Leoville Barton.
In a detailed speech he explained how he had come to see that Mendoza – and particularly the Uco Valley – could produce world-class wines.
‘Everyone thought I was mad when I planted the Uco Valley at 1440 metres. It suffered from late frost, early frost, ripeness problems…’
It was a visit to Napa and the Robert Mondavi winery in the early 1980s that inspired him, he said. ‘It was a non-European region challenging France for the best wines in the world. It was a revelation.’
The menu was tailored to the wines: two Chardonnays, the Catena Alta 2002 and the Catena Zapata Adrianna Vineyard 2004 – of which only 200 cases have been produced – went with a foie gras soup, and sauteed scallops.
That was followed by the Caro 2005 – the Cabernet Malbec blend initiated in 2000 with Chateau Lafite – the Catena Zapata Adrianna Vineyard Malbec 2004, and the Nicolas Catena Zapata 2004, with a lamb, and ox cheek with black olives.
Other guests included Oz Clarke, wine writers Beverley Blanning MW and Anthony Rose, Catena’s first consultant Jacques Lurton, Chateau Lafite managing director Christophe Salin, Bibendum chief Michael Saunders, and Alejandro Vigil, Catena chief winemaker.
‘It was a wonderful dinner,’ Catena said. ‘The food was delicious, and it was such a great opportunity to talk to so many people from all over Europe and America – Angelo Gaja, Hugh Johnson, Eric de Rothschild. An incredible evening.’
Decanter Men (and Women) of the Year 1984-2006
2008 Christian Moueix – Pomerol
2007 Anthony Barton – Bordeaux
2006Marcel Guigal – Rhône
2005Ernst Loosen – Mosel
2004Brian Croser – Adelaide Hills
2003Jean-Michel Cazes – Bordeaux
2002Miguel Torres – Penedès
2001Jean-Claude Rouzaud – Champagne
2000Paul Draper – California
1999Jancis Robinson MW – London
1998Angelo Gaja – Piedmont
1997Len Evans, OBE AO-Australia
1996Georg Riedel – Austria
1995Hugh Johnson – London
1994May-Eliane de Lencquesaing – Bordeaux
1993Michael Broadbent – London
1992André Tchelistcheff – California
1991José Ignacio Domecq – Jerez
1990Prof Emile Peynaud – Bordeaux
1989Robert Mondavi – California
1988Max Schubert – Australia
1987Alexis Lichine – Bordeaux
1986Marchese Piero Antinori – Florence
1985Laura and Corinne Mentzelopoulos – Bordeaux
1984Serge Hochar – Lebanon
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Written by Adam Lechmere