Catena Zapata Nicolas 2015
Nicolás Catena Zapata has an intense dark violet color with blue-black tones. A complex wine with delicate aromas of black cherry and licorice, it is enlivened by minerals, violet, spice, and herbs. The palate is sharply delineated and impressively concentrated, with a serious backbone supporting its very fresh currant and mineral flavors.
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
A giant. Not only in Argentina’s strong suit in terms of power, it also shows finesse and aromatic complexity. There are all manner of blackberries, smoke, chocolate and spicy notes. Built on a panoramic scale, but full of energy and enormous refinement. The finish cascades on and on. A blend of 83% cabernet sauvignon and 17% malbec. Try in 2021.
2015 was a Bordeaux-esque vintage – a cool summer with early autumn rains resulted in lower alcohol and higher acidity. This is made up of 83% Cabernet Sauvignon from Agrelo and 17% Malbec from Gualtallary and Altamira. It's incredibly young and primary, showing black and blue fruits with a subtle gravelly, smoky touch and a yoghurt-like lactic creaminess. It's rounded and smooth in the mouth, with cedary oak that still needs plenty of time to knit together. The tannins are firm and round and the concentrated fruits have a lovely energy and effortless elegance, with lovely graphite touches and bright, lively acidity. One for the long haul. Drinking Window 2026 - 2045
Along with the 2014 vintage, I also tasted the 2015 Nicolás Catena Zapata. The 2015 is higher in Cabernet Sauvignon, which represents 83% of the final blend, while Malbec comprises the remaining 17%. It feels quite ripe, with notes of cherries and an earthy touch. It's juicy and soft, very approachable, even though it has the Cabernet's textbook tannins.
This presents the charmingly herbal, cassis side of cabernet sauvignon from Agrelo—Mendoza’s prime source of the variety—with the softness and floral notes of malbec. It has structural strength in its tannins and acidity, but it’s the way the fruit fills the palate that will draw you back for another glass. Delicious now, this will evolve gracefully over the next ten years.
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.
By far the largest and best-known winemaking province in Argentina, Mendoza is responsible for over 70% of the country’s enological output. Set in the eastern foothills of the Andes Mountains, the climate is dry and continental, presenting relatively few challenges for viticulturists during the growing season. Mendoza, divided into several distinctive sub-regions, including Luján de Cuyo and the Uco Valley, is the source of some of the country’s finest wines.
For many wine lovers, Mendoza is practically synonymous with Malbec. Originally a Bordelaise variety brought to Argentina by the French in the mid-1800s, here it found success and renown that it never knew in its homeland where a finicky climate gives mixed results. Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot and Pinot Noir are all widely planted here as well (and sometimes even blended with each other or Malbec). Mendoza's main white varieties include Chardonnay, Torrontés, Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon.
One of the world’s most classic and popular styles of red wine, Bordeaux-inspired blends have spread from their homeland in France to nearly every corner of the New World. Typically based on either Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot and supported by Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot, the best of these are densely hued, fragrant, full of fruit and boast a structure that begs for cellar time. Somm Secret—Blends from Bordeaux are generally earthier compared to those from the New World, which tend to be fruit-dominant.