2022 was an exceptional year at Catena Zapata from every possible qualitative standpoint. Throughout Mendoza, both in the Primera Zona (closer to Mendoza city) and in the Uco Valley, the wines have optimal acidity, great concentration and ripeness of polyphenols, and just-right (not too high) alcohol levels.
Alejandro Vigil, Catena Zapata’s Head Winemaker says: “This is the best year that I have lived through.”
Yet, it was a roller coaster sort of year with two big frosts and a shorter time between the beginning and end of harvest, which required great dedication and endurance from all our staff at the vineyards and winery. Because weather patterns were so unpredictable, the 2022 vintage required deep knowledge of every region and vineyard. For example, the Adrianna Vineyard in Gualtallary was cooler than other years, whereas the temperatures in our Nicasia Vineyard, in Altamira (Southern Uco Valley) were higher than usual. There was less rain in general in the Uco Valley (which contributed to lower humidity and to two big frosts) but more rain in the East of Mendoza.
Needless to say, we had a particularly festive end of harvest winery asado (barbecue). Everybody was quite relieved that we had made it through.
The winter was milder than usual, making outdoor life particularly pleasant; we were grateful given the on-and-off COVID restrictions. There were a few big snowstorms over the winter which made us vintners and the Mendoza skiers happy. Glacier water was particularly important this year. The summer and spring were especially dry with 15-40% less rain in most areas.
A dry spring led to several frosts in the Uco Valley that were generally remedied by the lighting of anti-frost cans. By harvest time, yields were about 10-20% lower than usual. Thanks to the abundant glacier water, we were able to maintain a healthy canopy and yields were not reduced beyond the effects of frost. We are not sure why; perhaps because Malbec is the variety that is usually most affected by frost, but this year we harvested Cabernet Sauvignon earlier than Malbec which is unusual. Both had optimal ripeness and sanitary conditions (i.e.: no rot and little need for copper sulfite spraying).
We were fortunate for the early Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon harvest during the last two weeks of March, because when a late season frost hit on March 30 and 31st we had already finished harvesting in the Uco Valley. It was particularly helpful that climatologists announced the frost 5-6 days early, giving us time to finish harvesting all our cool climate vineyards.
The autumn, with cooler temperatures than usual, allowed the grapes to ripen slowly and fully, especially in areas with natural low yields. During the ripening months of February and March temperatures were also lower than usual, contributing to the exceptional concentration and balance of this year.
Laura Catena and Alejandro Vigil’s book “Malbec mon amour” was released in December of 2021 to great acclaim. In Argentina, for the first time a wine book was in the Best Seller list and the book was sold out by January (the second edition is currently being printed). The English version was reviewed by the New York Times, which resulted in brisk sales and social media/television appearances, culminating with a widely distributed Bloomberg News interview on Malbec World Day, April 17, 2022. “Malbec mon amour" is currently available in Spanish (as soon as the second edition becomes available in September), English and Portuguese.