The vineyards in Argentina are found on the west side of the country close to the Andes Mountains on some of the highest wine-making elevations in the world. For every hundred meters you go up in altitude the temperature drops about one degree Celsius. The higher the altitude the higher the ultraviolet radiation which help to stimulate richer tannin creation. The great inclination of the slopes also improves drainage and in turn helps grapes ripen fully. Argentinean Malbec has taken the world of wine by storm over the last decade and is now amongst the greatest wines world-wide, the value for money is superb. Nicolas Catena Zapata has been at the forefront of the vanguard of Argentinean Mallbec, his pioneering vision has elevated the region’s wines worldwide. He has won numerous awards and today is compared to Angelo Gaja and Robert Mondavi.
Nicola Catena and his family immigrated to Argentina at the end of the 19th century and become rich landowners; Nicola planted his first Malbec vineyard in 1902. Nicolas Catena Zapata, Nicola’s grandson, holds a doctorate degree in economics, and in the early eighties left his homeland to become a visiting professor at the University of California, Berkeley, where he became 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, at an elevation of nearly 5,000 feet, possibly the highest of any Cabernet Sauvignon included in one of the world’s leading wines. 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.
We are delighted to be able to offer the exceptional 2006 vintage, which received 97 points. The 2006 Nicolas Catena Zapata is the one of the greatest Malbecs ever made, it has entered its drinking windows now, yet has the potential to improve for decades. The wine is extremely rare and parcels are very hard to secure, they produce around 1,000 cases only in great years. Over the last two decades Nicolas Catena Zapata has solidified its reputation as the best Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec blend in the world and despite its rarity and very high score it remains accessible at £49 a bottle.
Nicolas Catena Zapata, 2006, 6×75 – £295 IB or £368.76 including duty and VAT
Robert Parker, Jay S Miller – 97 points
The 2006 Nicolas Catena Zapata is composed of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Malbec and spent 26 months in new French oak. It displays a superb perfume of pain grille, spice box, truffle, wild flowers, black cherry, and black currant. Rich, layered, dense, and complex, it, too, combines elegance and power. The wine is structured for the long haul and should easily see its 25th birthday, with 50 not out of the question. There is no track record, and I won’t be around to find out.
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