Catena Zapata Nicasia Vineyard Malbec 2020, Mendoza
A vineyard-specific benchmark, elegant expression of Malbec, juicy and structured
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Founded in 1902, Argentina’s Bodega Catena Zapata is known for its pioneering role in resurrecting Malbec and in discovering extreme high-altitude terroirs in the Andean foothills of Mendoza. 3rd generation Nicolas led the way in showcasing the world class of Argentinean wines globally, leading the way in viticulture and winemaking, carrying the tradition with pride, challenging themselves continuously to craft wines that can be counted among the best in the world.
Catena ‘Classic’ – is an expression from 100% estate-grown cultivars from the family’s high-altitude vineyards, with high attention to details to preserve the unique expression, aromas and flavors of the fruit, adding a heightened complexity to the final wine.
The Catenas led the way in extensively mapping their estate vineyards for decades, in order to discover the differences in soil structure, clonal selection, row orientation, slope or plantation density. This resulted in a mix of wine character and concentration with a one-of-a-kind personality, giving birth to Catena Alta in the 1990s, which spearheaded the first top-quality releases of its kind from Argentina.
Nicolás still yearned to make wines that could stand with the world’s greats. To do this, he knew he needed to grow fruit of unprecedented quality, with a level of concentration, complexity and balance never before seen in Argentina. Once each specific lot was identified and its potential revealed through row-by-row micro-vinification, Nicolás developed a plant-by-plant selection through which he could further enhance the characteristics of each lot. Today the Zapata vines are specifically marked and meticulously cared for as the mother plants to the Zapata Four: Nicolás Catena Zapata, Malbec Argentino, Adrianna Malbec and Nicasia Malbec.
Their hard work and dedication behind crafting such fine wines, Terroir refinement hasn’t been unnoticed, with the winery voted as #1 World Best Vineyard and firmly established as 2nd most admired wine brand in the world in 2023. They also started a dynasty, today pursued by Nicolas’ daughter Laura who has taken the helm, recognized as wine personality of the year 2022 with her work on Terroir and sustainability.
Located in the far southerly growing region of Altamira in La Consulta, the Nicasia vineyard is the only planting of the special Catena Selection of Malbec cuttings in this traditional area for Malbec. La Consulta was Nicolás Catena’s father Domingo’s prefered Malbec location.
This wine goes through an extensive cold maceration at less than 50ºF (10ºC) to extract aromas. The juice is then fermented for around 18-22 days with a post-fermentation maceration of approximately 23-29 days. Elevage: 16-21 months in French Oak barrel.
- Nicasia Vineyard: 3,593 ft (1,095 m). Altamira in La Consulta District, Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina. Very shallow loamy topsoil with surface gravel and gravelly (large stones) dry river bed subsoil – optimal drainage. Malbec. Plant selection: Catena Cuttings malbec selection.
- Varietal: 100% Malbec
- Alcohol: 13.8 %
- Total Acidity: 6.35 grams/liter
- pH: 3.65
Catena Zapata Nicasia Vineyard Malbec is a dark violet Malbec. Ripe black-and-red currant, raspberries and an elegant touch of french oak are some of the aromas that we can appreciate from this special Malbec from one of the Catena´s highest family vineyards. Very complex and expressive palate, with a creamy violet flavour with ripe blueberries, cassis, vanilla and spice cake.
Robert Parker Wine Advocate – 96 points
The juicy and peachy 2020 Malbec Catena Zapata Nicasia Vineyard in Paraje Altamira is the result of a warm year in a warmish place, but the wine shows no excess and comes through as balanced, slightly riper and rounder than the 2019 I tasted next to it but keeping the poise and elegance. It has a medium to full-bodied palate with juicy and abundant tannins. 20,004 bottles produced. It was bottled in November 2021.
James Suckling – 97 points
A mixture of black and blue fruit, very perfumed and elegant. Cherries, plums and blueberries with a peppery undertone. Crushed violets, too. Bone-dry on the palate with abundant, silky tannins and a juicy, lengthy finish. Drinkable now, but better from 2026.