“Dr. Nicolás Catena Zapata, who took over the family winery in the 1960s,
pioneered the movement toward higher-altitude vineyards in the
1980s and 1990s after he became convinced that his wines could
achieve grace and finesse only if made in cooler climates than the
family’s warmer lower-elevation vineyards nearer to the city of
Mendoza. Only after planting the Adrianna Vineyard, the
highest of Catena Zapata’s vineyards in the Uco Valley, did the
winery begin to analyze the complexity of its soils.
In 1995, Mr. Catena’s daughter Laura Catena created the Catena
Institute, a research and development arm, which pays special
attention to Adrianna. Ms. Catena, who is now the general
director of Catena Zapata, believes that the soils are only part of
the formula for making graceful, nuanced wine, along with the
cool, dry, fresh climate at high altitude and the quality of the
light,” writes Eric Asimov.
“We need both elements to make wines such as those from Adrianna: cool climate and special soils,” – Laura Catena explains.
“Catena’s 2012 White Bones chardonnay, from the chalky soil, is
dry and citrusy, with aromas and flavors of minerals and herbs. A
2012 White Stones chardonnay, from the rockier soil, is higher
toned and more herbal, with tangy, succulent flavors and more
intense minerality. And the grapes from the loamier soils go into
Catena Alta chardonnay, which has fine acidity but is fruitier and
less mineral”, describes the writer.