Described by The Wine Advocate as "one of the quality leaders in Argentina" whose "wines are phenomenal", Catena Zapata has made a name for itself as a benchmark high-altitude producer with vineyards throughout Argentina's Mendoza region.
The original winery was founded in 1902 by Italian immigrant Nicola Catena who eventually passed it on to his grandson Nicolás Catena Zapata. Nicolás was one of the first to introduce many European winemaking techniques to Argentina and was instrumental in putting high-altitude Argentinian wines on the map. Currently, Laura Catena, Nicolás' daughter and fourth-generation winemaker of the family, runs the winery. Laura has also established the Catena Institute of Wine, which focuses on the study of terroir and sustainability, resulting in Catena Zapata becoming one of the most studied estates in the world.
Their famous Adrianna vineyard is located at almost 5,000 feet elevation, where the extreme high-altitude results in intense sunlight and cool nights, only a few degrees above freezing even in the summer. The cool nights allow for very slow ripening, optimal acid retention and low yields.
Today we are happy to share the newest releases from this acclaimed producer:
When it comes to Catena's wines, a lot can be learned from their names. White Stones Chardonnay comes from select rows within Block 1 of the Adrianna Vineyard but in this plot, the ground beneath the vines is covered with oval white stones. These stones help regulate the temperature of the vines, acting as storage heaters at night and exerting a cooling influence by day.
White Bones Chardonnay again comes from select rows within Block 1 of the Adrianna Vineyard. The name refers to the soil underneath the vines, which is layered with calcareous deposits and limestone as well as fossilized animal bones - remnants of a river that used to pass through the region. The resulting wine is rich in limestone and mineral notes.
Fortuna Terrae means luck of the land in Latin, and indeed, the vines from this parcel of the Adrianna Vineyard are lucky. The deep loamy soils are home to many varieties of native grasses which prevent erosion and attract beneficial insects. Because of the freshness imparted by the deep soils and high altitude, the wines of Fortuna Terrae have optimal acidity and delicate flower aromas.
These ever-popular wines are due in early next year, so do let me know if you would like to order and I can confirm subject to availability.
White Stones Chardonnay 2021
98 Points | Luis Gutierrez, Wine AdvocateThe 2021 White Stones Chardonnay is subtler and more elegant, a little closed with moderate ripeness and alcohol (12.5%) and a mineral palate with strong chalky sensations. It might be worth reproducing their explanation about this wine, one of the finest whites in Argentina: "The term 'white stones' refers to the composition of said rows of soil, with white oval stones covered by gravel. The vineyard 'Adrianna' is planted at an altitude of almost 1,500 meters above sea level, in the district of Gualtallary in Tupungato. The stony soil prevents deep root growth, providing optimum drainage. These soils are very poor in organic matter and contribute to support vines' permanent stress conditions. The cool nights allow for very slow ripening, optimal acid retention and low yields." This is serious and tasty. 7,300 bottles produced.
White Bones Chardonnay 2021
98+ Points | Luis Gutierrez, Wine Advocate
The 2021 White Bones Chardonnay was harvested at two different points of ripeness and then blended into the final wine, which is subtler than the explosive 2020 I tasted next to it but with the same palette of aromas—thyme, rosemary, lavender, rockrose, white flowers, citrus, pine needles, incense, curry and spices—and the palate is seamless, mineral and with a chalky texture. It's brilliant and expresses the variety, vintage and soil perfectly, but today I give the edge to the 2020, which I think transcends the vintage. 6,240 bottles produced.
Fortuna Terrae Malbec 2020
98 Points | Luis Gutierrez, Wine Advocate
The 2020 Adrianna Vineyard Fortuna Terrae shows exceptionally well. It's still young and juicy with some baby fat that should get rendered with some more time in bottle. It's a little lighter, and the tannins gave it grip and a chalky limestone sensation. But the wine is very expressive, with purity, clean and precise and not showing any signs of coming from a warmer year like 2020. It finishes with the telltale violets from the great Malbec grape coated by chalky minerality. This plot behaves well in warmer years like this one. It was bottled in October 2021. 5,400 bottles produced.
River Malbec 2020
97+ Points | Luis Gutierrez, Wine Advocate
The 2019 was a hard act to follow, but the 2020 Adrianna Vineyard River kept its poise, though it showed a little riper and with grainier tannins that gave it some faint rusticity and earthiness. This is one of three Malbecs from the Adrianna Vineyard in Gualtallary, from a stony part of the vineyard, hence its name. The wine matured in large oak foudres, and the oak is still perceptible and might need a little more time to get integrated. This tends to be the most austere of the three bottlings, even in the warmer years like 2020, and it shows a little more fruit. It's juicy but beautifully textured with a spicy twist of curry that reminded me of some bottlings from El Enemigo in El Cepillo. It seems to open up slowly in the glass—the violet and berry aromas get complicated by some spice (curry?)—and the palate feels more layered. This is a superb expression of the austere wildness of Gualtallary. 5,700 bottles were filled