To Move Beyond Malbec, Look Below the Surface

The New York Times, February 11, 2016
laura catena
To Move Beyond Malbec, Look Below the Surface, written by The New York Times’ acclaimed wine writer, Eric Asimov, features Bodega Catena Zapata’s famed high altitude Adrianna Vineyard. The article takes an in-depth look at how the Catena family and the Catena Institute of Wine are unlocking the secrets of Mendoza’s soils to make quality, nuanced wines that stand among the best in the world.

“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.