The inaugural 1997 vintage of this Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec blend set a new standard of quality for wines from South America when it won a series of blind tastings against other prestigious cuvées from around the world. Since then, it has gone on to become one of South America's flagship Bordeaux blends.
If you like your wine with density, power and presence, then this is a great find.
10% whole cluster and 90% whole berry fruit is hand-loaded into 225-500 liter first and second use French oak foudres for a 100% barrel fermentation for a period of 15 days, allowing seamless oak integration. The fermentation temperature is kept low, extracting intense aromas, and the cap management is done by hand to ensure soft, gentle flavors and tannin extraction. Wild yeasts. Alcoholic and malolactic fermentation in barrel leaves considerable lees and sediment. The wine is aged in French oak barrels for 18 months. 210 separate row microvinifications from different lots and harvest times.
Harvest time varies depending on each lot's soil composition. Harvest time can vary by several weeks between one lot and another within the same vineyard.
La Pirámide Vineyard: 3,117 ft (950 m). Agrelo District, Luján de Cuyo Region, Mendoza, Argentina. Deep alluvial loam with 30% clay that decreases soil temperature by 35,6ºF (2ºC) in average. Cabernet Sauvignon.
Nicasia Vineyard: 3,593 ft (1,095 m). Altamira en La Consulta District, Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina. Very shallow loamy topsoil with surface gravel and gravelly (large stones) dry river bed subsoil - optimal drainage. Malbec.
Adrianna Vineyard: 4,757 ft (1,450 m). Gualtallary District, Tupungato Region, Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina. Alluvial, gravelly with limestone deposits in the topsoil. Malbec.
Nicolás Catena Zapata has an intense, deep purple color with bluish-black tones. On the nose, aromas of black fruits – blackberries, black cherries, black plums – predominate with subtle notes of vanilla and dark chocolate intermingled with savory hints of green olive and a stony minerality. On the palate, the wine is tremendously complex, unfolding layer upon layer of red currant, eucalyptus, and black pepper flavors. Black cherries and blackberries give way to cassis followed by a hint of saline minerality. The wine is remarkably concentrated with a firm tannic structure providing the backbone for the lush fruit. The finish is long, a foretoken of the long aging potential of this Argentine masterpiece.
In 1898, Nicola Catena left his homeland of Italy, and sailed for the land of plenty and opportunity: Argentina. It wasn't long before Nicola planted his first Malbec vineyard in Mendoza in 1902. Although traditionally used as a blending grape in Bordeaux, Nicola believed in the potential of Malbec as a single varietal wine, and suspected that it might uncover its hidden splendour in the cooler climes of the Andes. Flash forward a few decades, to where Nicola's grandson, Nicolas Catena Zapata, has taken over the management of the business. He sold off the bulk producing parts of the company, focusing instead on producing premium Mlabec and Cabernet. To that end, he began searching for the best sites in Mendoza to plant. In 1992, he settled on Gualtallary Alto - the highest and moste Western part of Tupungato. Today, the wines of Bodega Catena Zapata are sourced from six historic estate vineyards: Angélica, La Pirámide, Nicasia, Domingo, Adrianna and Angélica Sur.
The 2015 Nicolás has the highest ever percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon, with 17% Malbec for company and is a stunning blend that’s right up there with some of the best vintages of the wine. Floral, minty and refined, it has subtle, spicy oak, notes of green herbs and red fruits, tangy acidity and remarkable palate length. One for the cellar. 2021-32
A giant. Not only in Argentina’s strong suit in terms of power, it also shows finesse and aromatic complexity. There are all manner of blackberries, smoke, chocolate and spicy notes. Built on a panoramic scale, but full of energy and enormous refinement. The finish cascades on and on. A blend of 83% cabernet sauvignon and 17% malbec. Try in 2021.
2015 was a Bordeaux-esque vintage – a cool summer with early autumn rains resulted in lower alcohol and higher acidity. This is made up of 83% Cabernet Sauvignon from Agrelo and 17% Malbec from Gualtallary and Altamira. It's incredibly young and primary, showing black and blue fruits with a subtle gravelly, smoky touch and a yoghurt-like lactic creaminess. It's rounded and smooth in the mouth, with cedary oak that still needs plenty of time to knit together. The tannins are firm and round and the concentrated fruits have a lovely energy and effortless elegance, with lovely graphite touches and bright, lively acidity. One for the long haul.
14.2% alcohol: made from vines in both Uco Valley and Luján de Cuyo): Bright ruby-red. Pungent aromas of cassis, blackberry, herbs and grapefruit are pure and unadorned. Juicy and stylish in a European style, conveying an impression of delicacy and terrific penetration. This is sweeter and suppler than the 2015 Nicasia Vineyard Malbec but I'm not sure that it's deeper. Finishes with a powerful spine, strong supporting acidity and terrific length.
WINE & SPIRITS MAGAZINE
This presents the charmingly herbal, cassis side of cabernet sauvignon from Agrelo—Mendoza’s prime source of the variety—with the softness and floral notes of malbec. It has structural strength in its tannins and acidity, but it’s the way the fruit fills the palate that will draw you back for another glass. Delicious now, this will evolve gracefully over the next ten years.
LUIS GUTIERREZ - WINE ADVOCATE
Along with the 2014 vintage, I also tasted the 2015 Nicolás Catena Zapata. The 2015 is higher in Cabernet Sauvignon, which represents 83% of the final blend, while Malbec comprises the remaining 17%. It feels quite ripe, with notes of cherries and an earthy touch. It's juicy and soft, very approachable, even though it has the Cabernet's textbook tannins.