Did you celebrate Malbec World Day last Friday, April 17? I most certainly did, tasting through a wide variety of Argentinian Malbecs along with my friends at The Wining Hour. All of them were lovely, all of them truly expressive of what the climate and topography of the region has to offer this noble grape—indeed, Malbec has certainly found its seat on the throne atop what are known as some of the highest vineyard elevations in the world. But I have to say that when it comes to Argentinian Malbec, my heart truly belongs to Bodega Catena Zapata so it was no surprise that the Catena Malbec was my favorite tasting in the line-up, so this is what I bring to you today. Salud.
About the Wine: The 2017 Catena Malbec is made from 100% Malbec grapes sourced from the High Mountain Estate Vineyards and made by fourth generation vintner, Laura Catena along with chief winemaker, Alejandro Vigil.
About the Vineyards (from the winery): A Blend of Three Vineyards – vineyards are divided into lots that are harvested at different times:
- Lunlunta 3,018 ft (920m) elevation: aluvial origin. Loamy clay in the topsoil with rounded rocks on the bottom.
- El Cepillo, Eugenio Bustos 3,593 ft (1,090 m) elevation: aluvial origin. Loam-sandy soil with thick calcareous layers and rounded rocks on the bottom.
- Gualtallary 4,757 ft (1,450 m) elevation: aluvial origin. Gravel and limestone soil. Rounded rocks in the bottom.
About the Vinification (from the winery): This wine goes through an extensive cold maceration for 5 days at 48ºF (8,8ºC) to extract aromas. The juice is then fermented for 12 days with a post-fermentation maceration of 19-22 days. Wild Yeasts. Elevage: 12 months in barrel. Barrel selection varies depending on vineyard and vintage – First, second and third use barrels used.
Appearance: medium purple
Aroma: Medium (+) aromas that even at this young age show signs of aging
Aroma characteristics include: blackberry jam, meat/game, chocolate, bramble, eucalyptus, tarragon, licorice, dried blueberries, fig, and violets
Palate: The palate is dry showing medium (+) acid, medium alcohol, medium tannin, medium body. The flavor intensity is medium (+) with the flavor profile mimicking that of the aromatic profile, but elevating more of those fresh fruit flavors (adding to that fruit basket a bit of boysenberry, marionberry, and plum) and adding additional flavors of toast/smoke/sweet tobacco and chocolate/mocha.
The finish, for me, was teetering on the edge of medium (+) and long.
Conclusion: Based on the WSET criteria, I conclude that this wine is very good to outstanding and is certainly capable of aging further. I believe that as the wine ages, it will get deeper into those smokey, gamey flavors, develop more of those luxurious tobacco and mocha notes, and turn some of those fruits in that fruit basket into decadent fruit leather. However, there is a high enough level of acidity here that I expect that a sense of freshness and vivacity will continue to hold it all together as time goes on.
Food Pairing: Barbeque chicken thigh and a “southwestern” rice pilaf filled with black beans, corn, roasted red peppers, grilled onion, and green peppers.
More Info: I received the Catena Zapata 2017 Catena Malbec as a sample for review. (Cheers!) Price: $20 (seriously good deal. For more information about Catena Zapata, please visit the Catena Zapata website.
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