Nicola Catena planted his first Malbec vineyard in Mendoza in 1902. His grandson, Nicolás Catena, is known as the man who revolutionized Argentine wine and introduced high altitude Malbec to the world. The Historic Catena Zapata vineyards are planted with the Catena family’s proprietary selection of malbec plants: the Catena Cuttings. Catena Alta Malbec is sourced from Block 18 of the Angélica vineyard, Block 4 of the La Pirámide vineyard, Block 1 of the Nicasia vineyard and Blocks 3 & 9 of the Adrianna vineyard.
Vineyard lots are harvested at different times to ensure optimal natural acidity and moderate alcohol levels. Whole berries are hand loaded into small format fermentation bins and 225-500 L barrels; lots from each vineyard are treated individually; fermentation and maceration last for 10 – 35 days; 30% cold maceration. Wild yeasts. Alcoholic and malolactic fermentation in barrel; wine undergoes active battonage to protect it and drastically reduce the amount of SO2 needed. Aged for 18 months in French oak.
Catena Alta is an assemblage of historic rows within the Catena family Estate vineyards. The blend of these historic rows, like the marriage of sounds that create a symphony, yields a highly aromatic and elegant wine that speaks for the earth and the vines that have been tended by the Catenas for four generations. The Catena Alta wines can usually be drunk starting at three years after harvest and into the following one to two decades.
Varietal: 100% Malbec
Alcohol: 13.5 %
Total Acidity: 5.95 grams/liter
As with the other varietals of the range, I also had two vintages of this to compare, starting with the older 2015 Catena Alta Malbec. It is a mixture of grapes from multiple vineyards: Angelica, La Piramide, Nicasia, Adrianna and Angelica Sur. It fermented in 225- and 500-liter oak barrels and had an elevage of some 18 months in French oak. You can notice the slightly riper year, and it does suffer a bit in comparison with the truly superb 2016 even though it’s a noteworthy expression of Malbec with great freshness for the climatic conditions of the year. 66,000 bottles produced. It was bottled in November 2016. - Robert Parker 93 Points
Wonderfully fresh violets on the nose with just a hint of clove. Rich, powerful, creamy and fresh, with a long, polished finish. A serious Argentinian malbec with great balance. Drink or hold. - James Suckling 93 Points
Medium ruby-red. Complex aromas and flavors of black raspberry, currant, licorice and bitter chocolate; not quite as black fruit in character as many Argentine Malbecs. Classic intensely flavored, saline wine with excellent density and a touch of sweetness without any impression of weight. Very classy juice--but I’d give its dusty tannins another year or so to harmonize with the wine’s fruit. - Vinous Media 90 Points
Finely textured, offering concentrated dark plum, cream and spice flavors that are well-structured. The finish lengthens out nicely, with minerally notes. Drink now through 2021. 5,500 cases imported. -KM - Wine Spectator Magazine 90 Points