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Catena Zapata

text and photographs © 2008 Tom Cannavan

These notes accompany our in-depth feature on Argentina.

white wines

Catena Alamos Chardonnay 2006
9 months in French oak, all fruit from Agrelo and Tupungato. Plenty of toasty, plush, very creamy oak over ripe orchard fruits. Nice fruit on the palate too, with plenty of sweetness and mid-palate weight, though perhaps a little too sweet for my taste with the vanillin oak and spice of the finish. Good acidity and overall balance. 86/100

Catena Chardonnay 2006
Lovely toasty, gently honeyed oak and ripe fruit nose, with some tropicality and some nectarine. On the palate this has real tropicality, with pineapple and mango sweetness to the fruit, but lovely racy acidity that hints at minerality and white fruit, but not losing that honeyed limpidity. 89/100

Catena Alta Chardonnay 2004
Very powerful, but delightful French oak nose with spice, buttery toast and a touch of honey, and a lovely melange of sesame seed and orange oil, and fine, ripe with creamy ripe pear and melon, and lovely citrus acidity. Quite soft and perhaps lacks just a touch of structure, but undeniably delicious and beautifully pitched. 90/100

Catena Alta Chardonnay 2005
Lovely sesame seed and honey nose. Massively sweet fruit. Very good texture and concentration, but the sweetness and a powerful mineral acidity drive through. A big wine, but profound. 91/100

Nicolas Catena Zapata Chardonnay 2006
Beautiful fruit, gorgeous apricot and custard apple aromas, with a beautiful quality of honeyed oak and a streak of pithy lemon and mineral. The mouthfeel is delicious, with all the concentration but also a bright orangy fruit and shimmering acidity. Amazing stuff, 300 cases of which have been bottled and may or may not be commercially released. 94/100

red wines

Catena Alamos Cabernet Sauvignon 2006
Clear, creamy, ripe black fruit with a cherry and little floral edge that's very pretty. Nice racy edge to the fruit: carries the 9 months in 6rench and American oak very lightly. 86/100

Catena Alamos Malbec 2006
Composed, svelte, rounded but dense black fruit. Nice littler edge of gaminess and some small glimpses of floral notes. On the palate crisp, structured and well defined, with a raciness to the fruit and a fine, supple tannin and acid structure cutting through spice and good black fruit. 87/100

Catena Alamos Bonarda 2006
Some herbal notes and some crisp berry fruit, with a fresh, but earthy character. Palate is creamy and rich, with good flesh and that nice herbal character adding a layer of intrigue to a fruity, earthy finish. 87/100

Catena Alamos Seleccion Pinot Noir 2006
Quite a sweet, damp earth nose, with a coffeeish influence of French oak adding more warmth and richness. The sweet fruit is mouthfilling on the palate, though it perhaps lacks a touch of flesh in the finish. 86/100

Catena Alamos Seleccion Malbec 2006
10 months in French and American oak, with all fruit from the La Consulta region. Beautifully expressive nose, with some minty cassis and a floral elegance, but also a nice hint of meaty depth. The palate has a lovely creamy texture and velvety black fruit. Nicely crisp, liquoricy edge of tannin and acidity in a very nice wine. 89/100

Catena Cabernet Sauvignon 2004
Ripe, sweet, bold and creamy blackcurrant and Black cherry fruit, with some mint and dark chocolate and a touch of smoky oak. Lovely mouthfilling fruit, with excellent ripeness and flesh on the mid palate, and a lovely freshening acidity. Tannins are gentle, leaving this quite soft, but persistent on the palate. 89/100

Catena Malbec 2005
Comparatively closed, with spice and pepper, and an earthy sweetness, with a nice quality of smoky, sandalwood French oak (though 30% American used). Very nice fruit on palate, with lots of weight an flesh, and delightful crispness to quite full, creamy fruit. Very nicely structured and balanced wine. 90/100

Catena Alta Malbec 2004
Big, creamy blackcurrant nose with an elegant hint of violet and a touch of smoky cedarwood. The palate has wonderful fruit sweetness, but it comes with a big dry, smoky kick of extract, with spices and a blueberry skin quality. Lovely svelteness to this, with silky tannins and texture and a very refined, crisp acidity that just tugs away through the long finish. 92/100.

Catena Alta Malbec 2000
Spice, meat stock and tobacco adding complexity to the pure fruit of the 04. Has a leanness and a stripe of drying grainy tannin. Plenty of acidity and has a slight hollowness perhaps? Is this a phase? 87?/100

Catena Alta Malbec 1995
First ever vintage. Fruit stays very sweet and pure, with a hint of over ripeness. There is tobacco and a touch of casseroled beef. On the palate this is dense and sweet, with a rich blackberry and plum fruit. This has aged extremely well, seeming more harmonious and vital than the 2000. 90/100

Catena Alta Cabernet Sauvignon 2004
Touch of dusty, spicy stalkiness, with some black olive and sweet, damp earth playing against super sweet fruit. Lovely cassis and blackcurrant, a powerful tannin structure, but very svelte and plush tannin, with a generous but good level of acidity and the spice of the oak filling in. 91/100

Catena Alta Cabernet Sauvignon 2003
18 months in new French oak, from three specific vineyards all at or over 1000 metres altitude. Very deep, sensuous and composed, with silky fruit quality of blackcurrant and dense, fleshy plum fruit. On the palate this is full and sweet, with excellent fruit sweetness and depth, and a chocolaty richness to the fruit and tannin integration. Lovely depth here, with spice and richness cut by tangy cherry acidity. 92/100

Nicolas Catena Zapata 2005
From tank but final blend about to be bottled. Beautiful full, sweet black fruit. Exceptionally tight tannins and structure. Very fine length. Tangy and racy, but with sumptuous fruit. Provisionally 94/100

Nicolas Catena Zapata 2004
Very, very refined nose, with a certain dustiness and an espresso coffee bean character. Lovely fruit, with superb structure as svelte, juicy tannins and that haunting, lifted brightness of the fruit intemingle. Long and beautifully balanced. 95/100

Nicolas Catena Zapata 2003
70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Malbec. Beautifully composed nose, with lovely violet and cassis sweetness, a wrapping of mocha, spice and cedar, and plenty of ripe, suave, deep fruit. The palate is silky-textured and terrifically sweet and ripe. The oak is so polished, and the chocolate and spice tannins so supple and well-integrated. Wonderfully focused, pure, and extremely long. 95/100

Catena Malbec Argentino 2005
From tank. Phenomenal fruit sweetness, with a more coffee and chocolate mocha. Real density and fat, flooding across the palate with a huge, pure, black fruit-driven appeal. 95/100

Catena Zapata Adrianna Vineyard Malbec 2004
250 cases of this were made. Beautifully svelte, appealing and glossy fruit, with real creaminess and a lovely cedary elegance to the oak. The velvety weight of the fruit and tannins makes for a very sumptuous mouthfeel, but the cherryish acidity is superbly well balanced adding crispness and juiciness. 94/100. £30 / £35

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