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Catena Alta Malbec 2011

Malbec from Argentina
  • W&S94
  • JS93
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  • WE91
  • WS90
14% ABV
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4.4 4 Ratings
14% ABV

Winemaker Notes

Catena Alta Malbec is deep violet in color with indigo highlights. The nose has aromas of ripe red and black berry fruits with notes of violets and lavender and hints of leather, spice, mocha, and vanilla. The wine is full-bodied, concentrated and rich on the palate with soft, sweet tannins and a silky structure. Multiple layers of rich cassis, ripe cranberries, and blackberries are interwoven with subtle notes of licorice and black pepper. An earthy minerality, finely grained tannins, and a lively acidity mark the lengthy finish.

Critical Acclaim

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W&S 94
Wine & Spirits
This vintage is particularly bright and youthful, the firm red fruit flavors seemingly lit from within. The tannins have a rather untamed grip; if you open the wine now, do it next to the grill.
JS 93
James Suckling
This shows a silky and beautiful wine with plum, spice, salt and sliced meat. Full body, with wonderful fruit and spicy, meat and berry character. A little jammy but I like it a lot. Drink or hold.
RP 92
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
The 2011 Catena Alta Malbec is a blend of wines produced with Malbec grapes from different zones within Mendoza from their signature vineyards Angelica (Lunlunta), La Piramide (Agrelo), Nicasia (Altamira) and Adrianna (Gualtallary). It has a showy, ripe nose full of flowers and blueberries, very classic Malbec with nicely integrated oak aromas of spices. The palate is dry with fine, sweet tannins and some balsamic notes ending very fresh. Comparatively, I was more impressed with the 2011, but set side by side with the vintages of yesteryear this is a superb, austere Malbec.
WE 91
Wine Enthusiast
Meaty, minty scents accent core cassis, jammy blackberry and oaky aromas. In the mouth, this benchmark Argentinean Malbec is tight and structured, with no flab or excess weight. An exotic mix of blueberry, cassis and Middle East spices finish long, with oak-driven lemony snap. Drink through 2020.
WS 90
Wine Spectator
Fresh and engaging, with refined flavors of red plum, currant and spiced cherry, which are awash with sandalwood and hickory smoke notes. Shows good snap on the finish of milk chocolate and cream. Drink now through 2018.
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Catena

Catena

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Catena, Argentina
2011 Alta Malbec
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 export 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.

Argentina

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Stretching from the Andes to Patagonia, Argentina's unique terroir lends to high quality wines. Formerly associated with inexpensive bulk wine but dramatically shifting focus from quantity to quality, Argentina is the most important wine-producing country in South America. Certainly excellent values abound here still, but increases in vineyard investment, improved winery technology, and a commitment to innovation since the late 20th century have contributed to the country’s burgeoning image as a producer of great wines at all price points. The climate here is diverse but generally continental and agreeable, with hot, dry summers and cold snowy winters—a positive, as snow melt from the Andes Mountains can be used to irrigate vineyards. Grapes very rarely have any difficulty achieving full ripeness.

Mendoza, a large and famous region responsible for more than 70% of Argentina’s wine production, is further divided into several sub-regions, including Luján de Cuyo and the Uco Valley. Red wines dominate here, especially Malbec, the country’s star variety, while Chardonnay is the most successful white. The province of San Juan is best known for blends of Bonarda and Syrah. Torrontés is a specialty of the La Rioja and Salta regions, the latter of which is also responsible for excellent Malbecs grown at very high elevation.

Known for its big, bold flavors and supple texture, Malbec is most famous for its runaway success in Argentina. However, the variety actually originates in Bordeaux, where it historically contributed color and tannin to blends but was susceptible to viticultural problems. After being nearly wiped out by a devastating frost in 1956, it was never significantly replanted, although it did flourish under the name Côt in nearby Cahors. Malbec was brought to Argentina in 1868 by a French agronomist who saw great potential for the variety in Mendoza’s hot, high-altitude landscape, but did not gain its current reputation as the national grape of Argentina until a surge in popularity in the late 20th century thanks to its easy-going drinkability.

In the Glass

Malbec typically expresses deep flavors of freshly turned earth, black fruits from berries to plums, and licorice, appropriately backed by dense, chewy tannins. In warmer, New World regions, such as Mendoza, it can be quite intense and often needs time to mellow before becoming drinkable. In the Old World, its rusticity shines, with aged examples showing dusty notes of leather and tobacco. The best examples in all regions often possess a beguiling bouquet of violets.

Perfect Parings

Malbec’s rustic character begs for flavorful dishes, like spicy grilled sausages or the classic cassoulet of France’s Southwest. South American iterations are best enjoyed as they would be in Argentina: with a thick, juicy steak.

Sommelier Secret

If you’re trying to please a crowd, Malbec is generally a safe bet. With its combination of bold flavors and soft tannins, it will appeal to basically anyone who enjoys red wine. Malbec also wins bonus points for affordability, as even the most inexpensive examples are often quite good.

WBO30101999_2011 Item# 131956

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