Nicolás Catena Zapata
Mendoza, Bodega Catena Zapata, 2006
Where nostalgia tangoes with innovation
Snow-covered Andean peaks and salt lakes, deserts, rugged mountain villages, elegant colonial cities, vibrant metropolises, red canyons and green valleys – Argentinian has them all. And, of course, excellent wine. Argentina is named after the Latin word for silver, “Argentum,” because of the treasures expected to be found there. Among others, homesick colonialists and Catholic priests had a hand in cultivating these liquid treasures, and today there are approximately 220,000 hectares of vineyards.
Mendoza: Malbec and more
Whenever someone talks about Argentinian wine, they generally mean wines from Mendoza. Roughly 60 percent of all Argentine wines are produced around the metropolis of the same name. In particular, Malbec, a red wine variety originating from southwestern France, has found a new home here, providing focused, well-structured wines. Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay also thrive. The best wines result from high elevations, in the foothills of the Andes
The backbone of Bordeaux
The Cabernet Sauvignon gives the Bordeaux its backbone, yielding deep violet wines with powerful tannins and endless ripening potential. It is the top dog in Médoc, and is placed in all five premier crus of Bordelais. When young, it often appears strict and unapproachable, but with advancing years, its tannins round off. It is wonderfully velvety, and yet always maintains its freshness. Typical flavours include cassis, graphite and cedar. Wherever Cabernet Sauvignon is found, Merlot is not far away. It complements the robust structure of Cabernet with softness, fruit and richness. The Cabernet Sauvignon is the most-exported vine in the world. It delivers persuasive qualities in Italy as an ingredient of the Super Tuscan, or as the flagship variety from California. There, it is lovingly titled “Cab Sauv”. Meat fans should be aware that it fantastically accompanies a grilled entrecôte. The family tree of Cabernet Sauvignon is surprising: its parents are Cabernet Franc and the white Sauvignon blanc.
New Home, New Fortune
The Malbec once belonged to the classic assortment of varieties from Bordeaux. But it was demanding to cultivate, and in the changeable climate of the Bordelais it often became green and herbaceous, so winemakers replaced it with Merlot in the middle of the 20th century. Luckily, the Malbec found a new home in Argentina. In 1868, a Frenchman brought the first stocks along to the land of the Andes. Today, the Malbec is the most-planted variety there. Especially in Mendoza, it shows what it can do: it yields very dark, well-structured wines with aromas of black fruit, violets and game. They just call out for an Argentinean steak! The Malbec has its origins in Cahors, in southwestern France. There, it is kept today under the name Cot. Due to their earthy tannins, in the middle ages the growths from this area were also called "the black wines of Cahors".