“Argentina’s version of Lafite”

On Thursday 14th March, IG Wines were delighted to welcome clients to our Estate Nights dinner co-hosted with the inspiring and charismatic 4th generation winemaker, Adrianna Catena. In 2005, Robert Parker wrote: “Argentina’s greatest visionary is Nicolás Catena Zapata, and his crusade for high-altitude vineyards and conservative viticultural practices has resulted in one after another breakthrough wines that have pushed Argentina to the forefront of the modern winemaking revolution.” Adrianna and her sister Laura continue to carry this torch of innovation as we discovered over the course of the evening.

Upon arrival…

As Adrianna welcomed our guests, it was only fitting to commence proceedings with several delicious bottles of Catena Zapata’s Adrianna Vineyard White Stones Chardonnay 2021. Once seated in the luxurious private dinning room in Hakkasan, Mayfair, Adrianna gave a wonderful account of her family’s history and that of Catena Zapata. From having the greatest percentage of pre-phylloxera, un-grafted Malbec vines, to making the innovative decision to plant at high altitude, we were bowled over by Catena Zapata’s past and its plans for the future.

Adrianna introduced us to the first red wines of the evening: Catena Zapata Adrianna Vineyard Mundus Bacillus Terrae 2013 and 2020. Both wines were outstanding and ranked in some of our guests top wine of the evening! Named after Adrianna, this 1.4 hectare vineyard has an altitude of 1,500 metres and is covered with a microbiologically rich soil that helps the vines’ roots to withstand stress and absorb nutrients. Thanks to the high-altitude sunlight, Malbec and Cabernet Franc are able to ripen successfully in this cooler climate area that is frequently classified to have the same temperatures as Burgundy. Meanwhile, we enjoyed an array of starters, including Hakkasan’s signature Peking duck with Oscietra caviar bites, delectable dim sum with royal king crab, wagyu beef and lobster, as well as butter miso vension in baby gem lettuce cups.

With our palates thoroughly whetted, our glasses were filled with three vintages of Nicolas Catena Zapata: 2004, 2016 and 2020. As a Malbec dominant variety, the wine aims to recreate the ‘original’ Bordeaux blend where Malbec was in equal standing to Cabernet Sauvignon in the Medoc. Following its inaugural vintage in 1997, Nicolas Catena Zapata became Argentina’s first luxury cuvee exported around the world. Each of the vintages Adrianna shared with us were composed from different crus whose vineyard soil compositions range from clay and calcareous soil with gravels to sand, alluvial loam and limestone, giving incredibly complexity, definition and a real sense of terroir to each of the wines. Tasting these pre-phylloxeric wines was an incredible opportunity and window to the past, alongside which we enjoyed melt-in-the-mouth Wagyu beef sirloin with black truffle honey sauce, Zeeland king fish, Szechuan stir fry lamb, some more Peking duck and sides of noodles and porcini mushrooms.

``THE GUARDIANS OF MALBEC``

About Catena Zapata

Nicolas Catena Zapata has been at the forefront of the vanguard of Argentinean Mallbec. His pioneering vision elevated the region’s wines worldwide and as such he has won numerous awards and is compared to Angelo Gaja and Robert Mondavi.

At the end of the 19th Century, Nicola Catena and his family immigrated to Argentina, becoming rich landowners and Nicola planted his first Malbec vineyard in 1902. Nicolas Catena Zapata, Nicola’s grandson, left his homeland in the 1980s to become a visiting professor at the University of California, Berkeley, where he was greatly inspired by Californian wines. On his return, he introduced European viticultural techniques to Argentina, including French oak barrels, drip irrigation and low yielding cutting of Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonay – he then devoted himself to perfecting high altitude vine growing.

The progeny of this innovation was the creation of a breakthrough wine, eponymously named Nicolas Catena Zapata, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec and in some vintages Petit Verdot. The wine synthesises Cabernet Sauvignon with Malbec, with a higher preponderance of Cabernet Sauvignon which reflects Nicolas’ love of the grape. The vineyards are found at extraordinary altitude – an elevation of nearly 5,000 feet – and are possibly the highest of any in the world. The wine spends 26 months in new French oak and it is said has the potential to age and improve for 50 years.

In 2001 Nicolas introduced his now flagship wine Nicolas Catena Zapata to a series of blind tasting in London and in the US. He pitted his wine against First Growths and the world’s other leading wines from around the world and Nicolas Catena Zapata came first or second in every tasting. In 2004, following on from this truly remarkable achievement, Nicolas Cantena Zapata became the first Argentinian wine to receive 98 points from Robert Parker.

Available Wines

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