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“Nicolas Catena Zapata” landed with earth-buckling force in its inaugural vintage. The Catenas took this intense, deep-purple wine on a whistle-stop tour around the world, demonstrating firsthand how it could beat the First Growths and Napa’s top wines (including Opus One) in blind tastings. Critics and collectors were stunned by this pitch-perfect bottle that unspools a seductive blend of blackberries, dark chocolate, eucalyptus and black pepper. Impeccable pleasure and polish with structure built for two full decades of improvement.
About the wine
“It strikes me as being Argentina’s equivalent of a great vintage of Lafite-Rothschild.” – The Wine Advocate
Nicolas Catena always loved Cabernet. Even in Mendoza, the land of Malbec, a place where he’d made the country’s greatest wines in history – Cabernet loomed as an unconquered mountain in the mind of Nicolas. He dreamed of a Mendoza Cabernet that challenged Lafite Rothschild and Haut Brion – powerful, serene, complex and ageless. A wine sculpted like the finest Rodin. This dream mission necessitated help from every person in the multi-generation Catena clan. Vineyards were replanted. Incredibly meticulous experiments were undertaken. During harvest, each plant would be hand harvested and classified so the best fruit could be tracked through the whole process. Catena’s attention to detail would make Swiss watchmakers look sloppy. Starting with their landmark 1997 debut (which beat the First Growths in blind tastings), Nicolas Catena is the product of two hundred different micro-lots that are evaluated and blended as the Flagship Wine of Argentine Cabernet slowly begins to take shape. The regal Catena family and their brilliant winemaker Alejandro Vigil have done more than anyone to push the limits on mind-blowing Argentine wine. No expense spared, no corner cut – no mountain too high! And absolutely no fining or filtration. These Andean perfectionists steal the breath of critics and collectors as they seek to up-end the existing order of world-class wine. No wine more proudly proclaims the greatness of Argentine wine than the one named for the man the Wine Advocate called “the most important wine personality in Argentina.” A true treat for the senses and the perfect accompaniment to an ojo de bife served bien jugoso.
Winemaker: Alejandro Vigil
Appellation: Mendoza, Argentina
- 98 pts: Jule Tesar, Certified Somm
- 95 pts: Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
- 95 pts: International Wine Report
- 4.2/5: Vivino Users, All Vintages (12,356 reviews)
- #8 on Top 100 Wines of 2015 - IWR
- Nicolas Catena: Decanter Man of the Year
- Wine Spectator Distinguished Service Award
Grapes: 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Malbec
Vineyards: La Piramide, Domingo, Adrianna and Nicasia
Cooperage: Aged 24 months in 100% New French Oak
About the winery
In 1898, Nicola Catena sailed from Italy to Argentina to escape famine. Every day, this newly minted Argentine ate steak for breakfast! And so begins the legend of the family who creates Argentina’s finest wines. Nicola planted his first high-altitude Malbec vineyard in 1902 and the family soon grew to be the largest landholder of these difficult vineyard sites. During the Argentine financial crisis of the 1960’s, Nicolás Catena Zapata took over his family’s struggling business. As a visiting economics professor at Berkeley, he often visited Napa in the 1970’s and 80’s and saw a model for what Argentina could someday become. In the early 1990s, he developed the first Argentine Malbec clonal selection, known as the Catena cuttings. In 1994, Nicolás became the first Argentine to export Malbec that could stand with the best in the world. He has been awarded the Decanter Magazine’s Man of the Year award in 2009 and the Wine Spectator Distinguished Service Award in 2012 in recognition of his pioneering work in modernizing viticulture and winemaking in Argentina. Nicolás’ vision led to Catena being the first Argentine wine to receive over 90 points from Wine Spectator (1994) and 98+ points from Robert Parker (for the 2004 Nicolas Catena Zapata). Inspired by the belief that every child has a right to an education, the Catenas have sponsored dozens and dozens of tuitions for Argentine students at the graduate and PhD level.
“What sets Nicolás Catena Zapata apart from other top producers in the world is his unflagging dedication to researching, studying, and learning every aspect of viticulture and winemaking that could potentially improve his wines”. – Jancis Robison
About the vineyards
Nicolás Catena Zapata is made from a plant-by-plant selection of historic rows in the Catena Zapata vineyards. The wine is a majority of Argentina’s finest Cabernet from a quartet of vineyards that earn scores comparable to To-Kalon, Dr. Crane, Madrona Ranch and Tychson Hill. La Piramide is situated in Argil at 3100ft, and enjoys the deep, cooling alluvial soils necessary for long growing. Domingo is higher up, at 3600ft in Tupungato, where a limestone base provides greater acidity helpful for aging. The Malbec comes from the two sites that Catena is most famed for: Adrianna and Nicasia, their incredible single vineyard Malbecs. Nicasia sits at 3600ft in La Consulta and was responsible for the greatest Malbecs in the Catena line until the Adrianna vineyard came online at a staggering 4800ft. These two sites have richly gravelly soils that call to mind the great terroirs of the Medoc. Wines from these sites have earned 94-98 points a remarkable 45 times from the Wine Advocate!
About the winemaker, Alejandro Vigil
Alejandro Vigil is a graduate in agricultural engineering from the Facultad de Ciencias Agrarias, where he went on to receive master’s degrees in both winemaking and irrigation management. He began his career in the National Agricultural Technology Institute, where he took over the Soil Analysis Department at the age of 28. Alejandro came to Bodega Catena Zapata in 2002 as head of Research & Development. In 2003 he joined the enology department, becoming the manager of the top wines. His strong scientific background led to important developments in both vineyard management and winemaking. Alejandro was named chief winemaker in July 2007. A naturally restless person, Alejandro strives to channel his creative energy into pushing the limits of conventional viticultural and winemaking wisdom. Always ready to try something new, full of endless experiments, Alejandro’s goal is to constantly increase his understanding of the unique terroir in Mendoza’s high-altitude desert oasis.
98 points, Jule Tesar, Certified Sommelier
"Opulent black fruits mingle with stony minerality and luscious notes of vanilla, dark chocolate and leather in this dense and impressive wine. Its rich texture, balanced acidity and tannic structure ensure that this wine will continue to develop beautifully for the next decade. As always, this is a very special wine, but this highly acclaimed vintage is proving to be just as boast-worthy as one would hope and is just now reaching its stride with layers of dense dark fruit and savory complexity. Enjoy with a juicy grilled ribeye with roasted potatoes or with braised lamb with herbs to bring out its earthy, elegant dimension."
95 points, Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
“Doctor Nicolas Catena always liked Cabernet Sauvignon so the wine that carries his name has a greater percentage of the noble Bordeaux grape. The 2010 Nicolas Catena Zapata is a blend of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon and 25% Malbec sourced from La Piramide, Domingo, Adrianna and Nicasia. The fresh and balanced 2010 produced good ripeness of the fruit but the acidity was also great and the wine finished with 6.5 grams of acidity and a natural pH of 3.5, as the grapes are selected from cold soils. The first vintage was 1997, but this has to be one of their finest. This has the intensity of the Catena Alta Cabernet and the verticality and austerity of the Adrianna Malbec. It has very good acidity and intensity, while it has some velvety tannins. For a minute I was trying to remember the varietals as the sense of place, the freshness and the earthy sensations clearly take over. A superb bottle of wine. This is a wine to age. Drink 2016-2023.”
95 points, and #8 on 2015 Top 100 Wines International Wine Report
“This is a wonderful blend of 75% Cabernet with 25% Malbec sourced from La Pirámide, Domingo, Adrianna and Nicasia Vineyards and is named after the winery founder, Dr. Nicolás Catena. The 2010 is a massive wine, yet possesses wonderful elegance. It displays a dark, inky color, followed by aromas reminiscent of dark fruits, black cherries, milk chocolate, graphite and hints of sweet oak. On the palate this is richly textured with nice viscosity, leading to delicious flavors of blueberry, blackberry, graphite and milk chocolate. Overall, this is an outstanding wine from winemaker Alejandro Vigil which shows remarkable aging potential and should continue to evolve gracefully over the next two decades, however it will require a few more years of bottle age before it hits its stride." (Best 2017-2030)