Two to Tango
In 1902, Italian immigrant Nicola Catena planted his first Malbec vineyard in Mendoza, Argentina.
Domingo, Nicola’s eldest son, took the family winery to the next level, building the Catena business to become one of the largest vineyard holders in Mendoza. Like his father, Domingo Catena fiercely believed that Argentine Malbec could make a wine as worthy as any first-growth Bordeaux.
In the 1960s, however, the Argentine economy imploded and inflation rates soared. Catena struggled to hang on. One dire year, Domingo realized it would cost him more to harvest than to leave the fruit on the vines.
Argentina’s years of turmoil continued even as Domingo’s 22-year-old son Nicolás (a PhD graduate in economics) took the reins of the family winery. In the early 1980s, Nicolás left Argentina for a short sabbatical to become a visiting scholar of economics at the University of California Berkeley.
California—and especially the vineyards of Napa Valley—proved to be a serendipitous inspiration to Nicolás, who spent weekends visiting the wineries.
Upon his return, Nicolás set out to discover the best places to plant vineyards in Mendoza. He felt that the only way he could make a leap in quality would be by pushing the limits of vine cultivation, although his own vineyard manager told him that Malbec would never ripen in the high-altitude elevations and poor soil available to him.
But Nicolás was stubborn and undeterred, putting in five years of work before he was satisfied enough in 1994 to make a Malbec with the Catena name. It would take a decade more for Malbec to become a well-known wine varietal around the world.
Catena Chardonnay 2014
Starting with the 2014 vintage, this wine is sourced exclusively from the Valle de Uco. The fruit is sourced from six vineyards in different zones of the valley. Each block is vinified differently and aged separately before final blending.
This Chardonnay opens with aromas of mango and papaya. There is plenty of tangy acidity on the palate, and the flavors are dominated by lemon and lime, supported by oak and some subtle vanilla. It finishes with a hint of bitter orange.
Match this Chard with scrod braised in tomatillos, squid picante-style, or quail with barley.
Catena Malbec 2014
Catena Malbec is sourced from the family´s high-altitude vineyards in Maipú, Lujan de Cuyo, Tupungato, and San Carlos. It has the color of plum skin with a nose to match. The flavor profile is lean, dominated by blueberry, baking spices, minerals, and just a bit of mocha. It’s a smooth, easily-approachable wine with with medium body, good acidity for food pairings, and a medium finish.
This wine would go nicely with braised rabbit in chocolate sauce, roast beef in a black pepper crust, or roast leg of lamb with pistachios.
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