Described by The Wine Advocate as “one of the quality leaders in Argentina” who’s “wines are phenomenal”, Catena Zapata has made a name for itself as the 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.

Adrianna Vineyard River Stones Malbec takes its name from a small parcel of the Adrianna Vineyard that is covered with oval white stones, remnants of an ancient riverbed. The stones provide optimal drainage and temperature regulation, absorbing heat during the day and moderating the nights. Stony soil Malbecs tend to be extremely aromatic, rich and luxurious and the River Stones Malbec is no exception.

This 2017 iteration of River Sones is a smash hit, achieving a perfect 100 points from James Sucking. “Incredible” and “superb” are the kind of superlatives he feels this wine deserves. The Wine Advocate’s Luis Gutiérrez describes a “beautifully textured Malbec” that is a “superb expression of the austere wildness of Gualtallary”, awarding 98 points.

The 2017 season in Argentina will be remembered for its excellent quality and low volumes. Damaging spring frosts significantly reduced quantities with production down 40-60% on previous years. However, the excellent ripeness in what remained led to an impressive concentration of fine tannins and very intense colour. Fermentation takes place in 225 litre oak barrels and 500 litre French oak roll-fermenters for 17 days, then aged 20 months in French oak.

Though this wine is perfectly drinkable young – “already a dream to taste” according to Suckling – top-shelf Argentinian Malbec is well known for its aging potential and these bottles are sure to cellar well for many decades to come.

This wine is new in-stock and we have multiple formats available.

Bodegas Catena Zapata Adrianna Vineyard River Stones Malbec 2017
3 x 75cl £290.00 (IB)
1 x 150cl £215.00 (IB)
1 x 300cl £430.00 (IB)
1 x 600cl £860.00 (IB)

100 Points | James Suckling
Incredible aromas of blackberries, hot stones, wet earth and flowers. Full-bodied, it floats across the palate with ultra-fine tannins that melt into the wine. Superb, long finish of subtle fruit and terroir-defined subtleties. Try in 2022, but already a dream to taste.

98 Points | Luis Gutiérrez, The Wine Advocate
One of three Malbecs from the Adrianna vineyard in Gualtallary, the 2017 Adrianna Vineyard River Stones was surprisingly fresh for the conditions of the year. They discarded a small plot that was a little too ripe. The wine fermented with full clusters and finished fermenting without skins or stems (like a white), and this was done with 100% of the volume, because in previous years, it was done for maybe 70% of the wine. This helps with the texture and the minerality, a mouthfeel rather than a flavor, reminiscent of the stony soils covered with limestone. This tends to be the most austere of the three bottlings, but it shows a little more fruit; and there is a lot of acidity, but it’s nicely coated by the fruit. The result is a beautifully textured Malbec that 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. 4,800 bottles were filled in December 2018.
On Catena Zapata:
Catena is one of the quality leaders in Argentina and it’s also a large winery, so they combine quality and quantity. Furthermore, they are one of the pioneers: They were the first to plant vineyards in Gualtallary, which is nowadays considered one of the highest potential zones in the country, but they were deemed crazy when they planted there. The wines are phenomenal, true to their place and vintage.

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