Ever since the Catena family settled in Mendoza in 1898, one generation after another have been actively involved in the family winery. The 1960s saw a very young Nicolas Catena assume control until the early eighties, when he moved to California to become a visiting Professor of Economics at Berkeley. The move proved to be an inspired one.
By Clayton Smith, Majestic Fine Wine Manager
California rekindled Nicolas’s passion for wine. Before long he returned to Argentina with renewed vigour and began to search out the finest potential vineyard sites in Mendoza. The locals may have thought he was completamente loco (completely crazy) for planting Chardonnay and Malbec at 5,000ft, but Nicolas’s vision and dedication saw him push vine cultivation to new limits.
His early trials with French clones of Malbec from Cahors yielded disappointing results. Undeterred, he set out to develop his own Argentine Malbec, planting 145 clones in the ‘La Pirámide’ vineyard, then experimenting with the five best in different terroirs and altitudes. By 2003 the results of these tests had become clear – and Malbec could stake its claim as Argentina’s own.
Nicolas Catena’s devotion to the Malbec varietal and to the Argentinean wine industry was recognised last year when he was named ‘Decanter Man of the Year 2009.’ It was the first time Decanter had ever awarded the honour to a winemaker from South America.
Catena Alta Chardonnay 2008, Mendoza
￡21.00 or ￡17.00 when you buy 2 bottles*
Citrus fruit, white peach, acacia honey, tropical fruit and white flower aromas mingle with delicate nutmeg, cinnamon and mineral scents. Rich and full-bodied in the mouth with a great balance of fruit and acidity, this is super stuff.
Catena Alta Malbec 2006/07, Mendoza
￡26.00 or ￡21.00 when you buy 2 bottles*
A dark purple wine with a superb nose of espresso, chocolate, figs, cherries and plums alongside a wonderful array of exotic spices. Surprisingly elegant but retaining a magnificent concentration and purity of fruit, it’s a lot of wine for your money.
Sweet blackberries, mulberries, cherries, toasty oak, charcoal and lifted violet and cinnamon aromas leap from the glass on the big, rich, ripe fleshy nose. Full-bodied with perfectly integrated tannins, this is a wine with superb texture and density.
This elegantly styled Malbec has a bouquet of rose petals, spicy black pepper and trademark blackberry and bitter chocolate aromas. The finesse continues on the palate, where fine tannins and soft sweet fruit provide the platform for a long, persistent finish.
A precise yet generous wine with a complex nose of blackberries, currants, plums, bitter chocolate, toasty oak and minerals, tinged with liquorice and medicinal notes. It’s more of the same in the mouth, with earthy, leathery tannins supporting rich fruit flavours.
Big, sweet jammy black fruits, oak and chocolate scents plus exotic spice and menthol, medicinal notes. A palate of juicy fruit flavours and ripe chewy tannins pave the way for a long, velvety finish. Drinking beautifully now, but will benefit from a decade in the cellar.
*All prices valid until 1st November 2010 unless otherwise stated. (Please note that due to circumstances beyond our control, shipping of these new wines has been delayed from Argentina. We anticipate that they will arrive in store by the end of September.)