Founded in 1902 by the current proprietor’s grandfather, who, after emigrating from Italy four years earlier, planted the first Malbec on the foothills of the Andes in Mendoza. Catena Zapata helped establish Argentina’s reputation for quality wine.
After enduring difficult times in the 1960s and 1970s as the country’s economy suffered inflation and economic stress, the current proprietor – Nicholas Zapata – took a sabbatical in Berkeley in California. Based on what he saw of California wine production, he returned to Catena Zapata with a newfound conviction to produce only wine that could compete qualitatively with those of France. The bulk wine business was sold off and the focus became entirely on Bodegas Esmeralda, the fine wine branch of the family.
Nicolas had been less sure about the merits of Malbec than had been his father and grandfather, but in 1994 the winery produced a Zapata Malbec from 85-year-old vines in the Angelica vineyard. This wine was a huge success. Favorable press brought international attention to the winery. But Cabernet Sauvignon remained Nicolas’ primary focus, and in 2001 a wine called Laura was released from the 1997 vintage. This wine was thought by many to be on a par with some of the greatest wines made in Bordeaux. A premium Chardonnay was also produced.
Today, numerous different bottlings are produced by this family estate. Among six vineyards owned today, one, the Arianna Vineyard at 5,000 feet altitude on alluvial, gravel and limestone soils, is unquestionably regarded as one of Argentina’s greatest vineyards.
Blackberries with some black tea and perfumes. Full-bodied with fine dusty tannins and seamless texture. So long and consistent. 60% whole cluster fermentation with 14 months in oak casks. Glorious tactile wine. Drinkable now but better in three or four years.
The 2019 Adrianna Vineyard Fortuna Terrae has herbal and spicy aromas intermixed with flowers coming through as harmonious and very integrated. It comes from a part of the vineyard with slightly deeper soils with limestone at 70 centimeters. This plot provides very aromatic lighter wines floral with fine tannins with chalky minerality and good grip. It fermented with 100% full clusters and matured in oak foudre for 18 months. 5280 bottles were filled in October 2020. Some of the vineyards from Catena are suffering from phylloxera and parts of some vineyards have to be grubbed up and replanted.
Give this red some air and then marvel at the elegant orchestra of violet guava wild berry and pomegranate aromas and flavors that keep playing on to the end. A push of fresh acidity midpalate adds details of loam marinated olive and orange peel that linger effortlessly around the core fruit flavors and integrated lithe tannins. Shows lots of promise which should reward cellaring. Drink now through 2036. 440 cases made 150 cases imported.
The 2019 Malbec Adrianna Vineyard Fortuna Terrae is made with grapes from parcel 6 of the Adrianna Vineyard Uco Valley planted in Gualtallary at a height of 4400 feet and aged for 18 months in new and second use French barrels. The pure intense and precisely judged nose offers delicate fruit such as sweet and sour cherry alongside hints of lavender and violet and faint herbal aromas. It's relaxed and juicy on the palate with subtle finely grained tannins and a little chalk. The finish is elongated by fruity flavors. The year helped with the nuanced freshness in this Malbec. - By Joaquín Hidalgo on November 2021