(13.6% alcohol, with a pH of just 3.48): Dark ruby-red. Pungent but classy aromas of cassis and blackberry are a bit inkier and more subdued than those of the Malbec Argentino. Very smooth, dry, savory and backward, with its tangy red and black fruit flavors complicated by minerals and hints of green and black pepper. Really bulletproof fruit here–and wonderfully energetic. Half of the fruit comes from the cool Adrianna vineyard in Gualtallary, where Cabernet Sauvignon–and Franc–do especially well, according to winemaker Alejandro Vigil. I’d wait at least a year or two to enjoy this wine, which has plenty of tannic spine for aging.
Anticipated maturity: 2019-2025
Robert Parker 96
The 2013 Nicolás Catena Zapata is a blend of 72% Cabernet Sauvignon and 28% Malbec from the La Pirámide, Adrianna and Nicasia vineyards. It is perfectly clean and focused, a noticeable improvement over the 2012 vintage. The Cabernet Sauvignon from this cool vintage seems to have a more restrained character that made me think of Cabernet Franc, very classical and serious. They have been harvesting earlier and earlier in search of balance and freshness, and the strategy has definitely worked. It has great freshness and focus, and the lower alcohol and acidity seem to make the wine integrate the oak very nicely. This has to be one of the finest vintages of Nicolás Catena Zapata. 55,000 bottles produced.
Anticipated maturity: 2016-2022