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    Malbec for Everyone! Some Great Malbecs from Bodega Catena Zapata

    IMG_1915We recently enjoyed one of the best wine and food weekends of the year, courtesy of the Newport Mansions Wine & Food Festival.? One aspect of the weekend we always enjoy are the seminars, where you can get up close and in depth on a region or a style of wine, presented by a brand ambassador or wine industry representative.? There were several good options to do just that at this year’s event, and in this article we’ll take an in-depth look at one of those.

    Malbec is a somewhat polarizing grape.? Some people like it a lot, some people don’t at all.? I tend to be on the fence, at least with regard to your average, everyday versions.? They are generally good, but not outstanding in any way.? They are a safe bet when ordering by the glass, as you’re more than likely to get something acceptable.? One aspect that had always turned me away from Malbec is the finish, which can carry a bit of a dirt quality, almost like you got a bit of the vineyard soil in there at the end.? Years ago someone introduced to me to higher end Malbec, and that impression changed.? They definitely do make world class Malbec, as well as a whole range of excellent wines in every price range.? I would say the overall quality level is up, and that is a great thing.

    The traditional home of Malbec is the region of Cahors in southwestern France, where the grape produces a dark, sometimes rustic wine

    Our host: Catena Brand Ambassador Marika Vida

    Our host: Catena Brand Ambassador Marika Vida

    also known as the ‘Black Wine’ of Cahors.? These tend to be pretty brooding.? When you think about Malbec today, you immediately think of Argentina, and specifically of Mendoza.? This is the most famous and prolific region in Argentine wine making, and they have made a name for themselves with this grape.? At the leading edge of Mendoza winemaking is Catena Zapata.? This family has been making quality wine for several generations now, and they produce the signature Malbec from a variety of vineyards in the region, at various elevations and with different soil types.? Their wines provide a clear example of the fact that all Malbecs are not equal, or even similar.? Getting to evaluate those differences and appreciate where they come from is one of the most fascinating aspects of wine tasting.? Finding the perfect bottle then becomes one of the great pleasures of wine drinking.? One leads to the other.

    In this seminar we were treated to six different Malbecs from the Bodega Catena Zapata range of wines.? They are all 100% Malbec, but from various vineyards, and there is a wide variety in price.? Those prices range from the $20 range up to the $100 range, and points in between.? Let’s take a look at the wines:

    2015 Catena, Classic Malbec – a medium dark, purplish wine, this carries a nose of raspberries and earth.? Throw in a bit of leather.? It had good fruit on the palate, bright acid, medium tannins and a long finish that stays clean throughout.? All in all this is a solid and pleasing bottle of wine.? The wine see neutral oak, and checks in at about $20, maybe a dollar or two higher.
    2015 Catena Appellation, Lunlunta Malbec – This also sees neutral oak, although the oak is more noticeable.? It is a leaner wine, with good structure.? There is a solid core of fruit, and that fruit lingers in a finish that goes on for minutes.? This is very good, and you will find it in the same $20 price range.
    2016 Catena Appelation, Altamira Malbec – In color this is another medium dark, purple wine.? The nose carries floral notes, red fruit and some earthy tones.? There is more richness, the fruit is more fruit forward and it drinks very well and very easy.? This was a favorite among the group at the seminar.? Also about $20, this is a crowd pleaser.

    Following the group of three wines in the $20 range, the price point headed north, and the quality went with it.? Keep in mind that the

    Historic Rows

    Historic Rows

    first three wines are all well made, and good values.

    2014 Catena Alta, Historic Rows Malbec – This is a wine made from the best blocks from multiple vineyards.? It is full bodied, has lots of darker fruits, and stays wonderfully balanced due to cleansing acid and freshness.? The really impressive thing was the length, as this wine went on and on.? Excellent wine that you could serve to anyone, anywhere and make people happy.? $45 or so, and worth it.? Good value at that price.

    The Great Nicasia Vineyards Malbec

    The Great Nicasia Vineyards Malbec

    2014 Catena Zapata, Nicasia Vineyard Malbec – a single vineyard wine, this was my favorite of the event.? The vineyard is at about 3500 feet in elevation, and has a lot of gravel.? The resulting wine is leaner initially, with noticeable oak.? As it opened, complex notes of caramel and leather emerged.? The nose has great floral notes, which many pegged as the classic violets associated with Malbec.? It is long, full bodied and balanced.? This is special.? $100
    2015 Catena Zapata, Malbec Argentino – this particular wine was the favorite, overall, of the seminar

    Argentino

    Argentino

    group.? It is a really dark, purple in color with a perfumed nose, subtle oak tones and dark fruits.? It is full bodied and long, as are all these wines.? More like a balanced Bordeaux, and ready to drink right now.? $100

    This was fun, and the wines were real eye openers.? Our host was Marika Vida, a Catena Brand Ambassador, sommelier and an

    engaging speaker.? She kept things light, moving along and imparted a lot of information while doing it.

    If you love wine, these seminars are a great way to spend an hour or so.? Not to mention you get to try some outstanding wines.? Try some of the Malbecs from Catena Zapata, their reputation is well deserved.

    A votre santé!

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