2016 Catena Zapata Chardonnay Catena Alta Historic Rows

Year: 2016
Appellation: Mendoza
Country: Argentina
Wine Spectator: 91
Wine Advocate: 92
Vinous Media: 90
James Suckling: 91
Jeb Dunnuck: 92
White Wine
Alcohol by Volume: 13.5%
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"Big and rich, filled with concentrated ripe white fruit and spice flavors that are loaded with lively minerality. Pastry notes linger on the spicy finish. Drink now through 2021. 2,600 cases imported. -KM" (WS)

"The 2016 Catena Alta Chardonnay was cropped from a cool El Niño year. It's fresh and elegant, with high acidity and moderate alcohol. The oak is almost imperceptible, as the wine is very intense and pungent. Eighty percent of the grapes come from Adrianna Vineyard in Gualtallary, and the rest come from the Domingo Vineyard in Viña Bastías, in Tupungato. It fermented in 225-liter oak barrels with wild yeasts, and only about 30% of the volume underwent malolactic fermentation. The aging lasted for 14 months and was in new, second and third use barriques. It has a dark golden color and an impressive nose with ripe yellow fruit and some notes of botrytis but with a completely dry palate. It's round, lush and exotic, with the grapes taken from deeper soils and slightly warmer parts of the Adrianna Vineyard in Gualtallary. It's quite marked by the oak, but it should evolve nicely and in a classical Burgundian way in bottle. 31,200 bottles were filled in July 2017.

I tasted a very large collection of wines from Catena Zapata. All of these wines are highly recommendable, but the wines from the Adrianna Vineyard range are truly gobsmacking good and world class. I had the chance to taste slowly through three vintages of the three reds and two of the whites, and it made a fascinating comparison. The profile is austere and mineral, and sometimes they take time to open up. They are, of course, very young wines destined for a long life in bottle. The quality is extremely high, and it's a matter of preference as to which plot or vintage style you like best. 2014 is austere and a bit herbal, 2015 showed a little riper and 2016 seems to be the most complete of the three, with super sharp, linear whites and austere reds for the long haul. The 2014s were released a while ago, the 2015s are arriving on the market right now and the 2016s will take about one more year to hit the shelves. I'm talking reds, as the whites should be released by December 2018.

Just as I saw last time, the Appellation range is clearly the sweet spot, especially in 2016, when the wines clearly overdeliver. And it is impressive how the character of each wine is maintained and identifiable in every vintage." (WA)

"(13.7% alcohol; aged on its lees for 14 months in 20% new 500-liter barrels, down from a normal 35%; half of the wine went through malolactic fermentation): Captivating Chablis-like aromas of white peach, orange zest, minerals and flowers, plus a hint of resiny oak. There's an underlying thickness of texture and a restrained sweetness here but today the wine is classically dry and quite closed. The long, gripping finish suggests that this Chardonnay will benefit from a year or two of patience." (VM)

"Lovely pineapple and coconut nose. Ripe and supple with an attractively silky texture. Good length with some toasty notes at the finish. Drink or hold." (JS)

"The 2016 Chardonnay Catena Alta is a richer, full-bodied, toasty effort that has serious upfront appeal. This cuvée comes from the Adrianna and Domingo Vineyards and was barrel fermented, with only a portion going through malolactic fermentation. It spent 12-16 months in a mix of new and used barrel before bottling. Beautiful notes of caramelized apples, brioche, honeysuckle, and buttered tropical fruits all emerge from this nicely balanced, textured, and high-quality Chardonnay that opens up nicely with time in the glass. It’s terrific today and I suspect best enjoyed over the coming 2-4 years." (JD)