2009 Catena Zapata Malbec Catena Alta

Year: 2009
Appellation: Mendoza
Country: Argentina
Wine Spectator: 91
Wine Advocate: 94
Vinous Media: 92
Red Wine
Alcohol by Volume: 14.0%
Price :
$46.95
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"A dark, jammy red, offering a juicy core of blackberry preserves, blueberry paste and cassis fruit that expands with hints of melted licorice, espresso bean and cocoa nib. Fine length. Drink now through 2016. 3,500 cases imported." (WS)

"The 2009 Alta Catena Malbec comes from the Angelica, La Piramide, Nicasia and Adrianna Vineyards and undergoes malolactic fermentation in barrel, then is aged in French oak, 50% new, for 18 months. It offers a gorgeous, pure, floral bouquet with ripe pomegranate and wild strawberry imbued with superb minerality and delineation. The palate is medium-bodied with a tense, almost broody entry. It is a classic Malbec, one you might almost think came from the Old World, underpinned by great structure and a sense of masculinity. Yet it is superbly balanced with plenty of ripe, earthy black fruit laced with tar and tobacco towards the long, rather aristocratic finish. Excellent. Drink 2014-2025.

There is no need to introduce Catena Zapata. I visited the winery, which stands like an Egyptian pyramid looking for its sphynx, and spent the entire morning darting from one room to another tasting the entire portfolio of wines from the family. Naturally, it was an honor to meet Nicolas Catena himself, who has been instrumental in Argentina’s progress over the last three decades (see video). But what is pleasing is to find such a famous winery refusing to rest upon its laurels and in fact, through the irrepressible head winemaker Alejandro Vigil, a man who patently contemplates wines 24/7, Catena Zapata are looking forward and asking themselves questions about the style of wines they produce, what ought to be the next stage of their evolution, instead of merely replicating previous successes. Nothing exemplifies that more than the premium wines. Several years ago, it was 100% or even 200% new oak by rote. Nowadays, more consideration towards harmonizing the level of new oak to the fruit and the character of the wine has meant that it has been dialed down to 60%. Speaking to Alejandro, he might reduce it even further, but of course, it should depend upon what is best for the wine. In addition, there has been a revision in their approach to malolactic fermentation, as attested by their Chardonnays, the length of skin maceration (reduced from 30 to around 22 or 23 days) and more experimentation with whole cluster ferments and co-fermenting with white grape varieties. Anything is possible." (WA)

"(from four different vineyards, each picked at four different times): Good ruby-red. Laid-back aromas of blackberry, musky coffee and licorice, with a violet note emerging with air. Superconcentrated and sweet, but with firm balancing acidity and a mineral pungency giving the wine excellent thrust. Very deep malbec with broad, smooth tannins and serious length." (IWC)