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Nicolas Catena honoured as Decanter Man of the Year

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

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