Catena Alta Malbec (1.5 Liter Magnum) 2016
Nicola Catena planted his first Malbec vineyard in Mendoza in 1902. His grandson, Nicolás Catena, is known as the man who revolutionized Argentine wine and introduced high altitude Malbec to the world. The Historic Catena Zapata vineyards are planted with the Catena family’s proprietary selection of malbec plants: the Catena Cuttings. Catena Alta Malbec is sourced from Block 18 of the Angélica vineyard, Block 4 of the La Pirámide vineyard, Block 1 of the Nicasia vineyard and Blocks 3 & 9 of the Adrianna vineyard.
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I also had the chance to taste the 2016 Catena Alta Malbec, when they used a higher percentage of grapes from Nicasia. In this vintage, it's truly 100% Malbec that fermented in tank with full clusters and finished fermenting after pressing, without skins. It's serious and elegant, with the year's signature freshness. 2016 has really marked the wines with great freshness. This is serious and with zero sweetness, complete and direct.
Made from 100% Malbec from a number of vineyards (Angélica, La Pirámide, Nicasia and Adrianna) fermented and aged in 70% new barrels, the 2016 Malbec Historic Rows is an incredibly elegant, seamless wine that has an almost Burgundian style in its mulberry, blueberries, incense, forest floor, and spring flower-laced aromas and flavors. Beautiful on the palate as well, with medium to full body, supple tannins, and terrific balance, this is one of those wines that grows on you with time in the glass and shines on all accounts. Drink it any time over the coming decade or more.
Plenty of cocoa powder as well as violets follow through to some serious tannins that are already well integrated. They and the crisp acidity give the dry finish some assertive power.
Bodega Catena Zapata is one of Argentina's high altitude Malbec pioneers. The Catena family began making wine in Mendoza in 1902. Nicolas Catena, third generation family vintner, was one of the first to see the potential of Mendoza's mountain vineyards for producing high quality Malbec. In 1994, he became the first Argentine to exprot a world-class bottling of Malbec under the Catena label. Nicolas is joined by his daughter, Dr. Laura Catena, in their relentless pursuit of world-class quality from the family's high altitude vineyards. Laura has done extensive work in introducing Malbec and other varietal plant selections, soil and climate analysis, and sustainable practices throughout Mendoza. Head winemaker, Alejandro Vigil, has been at Catena Zapata since 2002 and works with Laura and Nicolas to make wines that express the family's vineyards and palate.
Most distinguished and celebrated from Argentina’s Mendoza, Malbec has seen runaway success since the early 2000s. Mendoza’s agreeable, continental climate with hot, dry summers and cold snowy winters allows the perfect conditions for growing outstanding Malbec. This grape is easy to like for its lusty, deep flavors and aromas of blackberry, plum, red cherry, autumn spice and tilled earth. It’s easy to find delicious, fruit-driven, affordable everyday examples and in prices beyond, quite exceptional ones with dense, supple textures that make them capable of aging.