Nicolas Catena’s ultimate goal has always been ‘to make Argentine wine stand amongst the best in the world.’
His desire is unequivocally shared by his passionate daughter Laura, who boldly stated at a recent tasting at Claridges in London, ‘I want every collector in the world to have Nicolas Catena Zapata in their cellar.’
Laura was speaking at the UK launch of the latest vintages of Catena’s flagship wines, Nicolas Catena Zapata and Adrianna Mundus Bacillus Terrae. The tasting also featured several older vintages of both cuvées.
Nicolas Catena Zapata
Inspired by the progression of Napa in the 1980s, Nicolas Catena wanted to showcase the potential of Argentine Cabernet Sauvignon.
This led to the creation of the eponymous cuvée, Nicolas Catena Zapata in 1997 – a 97% Cabernet and 3% Malbec blend that redefined premium Argentine wine when it won a series of blind tastings against other prestigious cuvées from around the world in 2001.
As Laura explained, ‘My father had more confidence in Cabernet than Malbec at that point. As we understood Malbec more, we fell in love and started to put more into the blend.’ Recent vintages are generally around 75-80% Cabernet with the balance being made up by Malbec.
This deeper understanding of Malbec was largely derived from Catena’s pioneering work in planting the variety at altitude in Gualtallary. The decision to plant the Adrianna vineyard at 1,450m in 1992 was ridiculed by many who thought Malbec would never ripen at such an altitude. To say his decision has been vindicated would be an understatement, with Gualtallary now considered the mecca for Malbec.
Mundus Bacillus Terrae
Within the Adrianna vineyard lies a 1.4ha parcel which is particularly rich in rhizobacteria, a micro-organism said to help vine roots withstand stress and aid nutrient absorption. This parcel produces the Mundus Bacillus Terrae, one of the worlds finest single-vineyard Malbecs.
What was very clear from this tasting was the longevity of these top cuvées. The 2005 Nicolas Catena Zapata was the most evolved of the wines on show, yet it’s still very much in its infancy and at the beginning of its drinking window.
Laura remarked, ‘The best wines in the world should be able to age, and we like to think that these wines show this’.
Last year, Catena took the decision to go for broader distribution of these top wines, and listed them on La Place de Bordeaux in a bid to increase the audience of global collectors. On the strength of this tasting, these two cuvées certainly stand alongside the finest wines in the world, and belong in any cellar.
A taste of Catena’s flagship wines:
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