New releases from Catena, including two no-added-sulfite wines

I tried these five significant wines from Argentine star winery Catena at TexSom, with Laura Catena. The first two are the pair of high-end Chardonnays that they make from the Adrianna Vineyard, at high altitude in Gualtallary. They represent an interesting expression of terroir. Then there’s the new History of Malbec wine, a high-end Zapata Malbec with Catena’s history of the grape depicted on the label. The other pair are two new ‘natural’ wines that they have released, made with no added sulphites. They’re nice, but I felt the Bonarda could have benefitted from some sulphites at bottling.

Catena Adrianna Vineyard White Stones Chardonnay 2016 Gualtallary, Mendoza, Argentina
Very linear and precise with crisp citrus fruit. Lively minerality and detail with keen acidity. Linear, crystalline and complex with an expanding finish. 95/100

Catena Adrianna Vineyard White Bones Chardonnay 2016 Gualtallary, Mendoza, Argentina
This is pithy and taut with a dense, focused quality to the fruit, with a hint of resin and stoniness. Slightly reduced with nice precision and weight. Pithy and closed. 93/100

Catena Zapata ‘Malbec Argentino’ 2015 Mendoza, Argentina
With a grand label depicting the history of Malbec, this shows rich, dense, bold blackberry and blackcurrant fruit. It’s compact with good structure. Vivid, with hints of tar and spice, and showing lovely depth. Concentrated and tannic, but nicely balanced, showing sleek fruit. 95/100

Catena La Marchigiana Criolla Chica 2018 Mendoza, Argentina
No added sulphites. Pale-coloured, supple and bright with fresh red cherry fruit. Simple but nicely textured with juicy fruitiness and nice weight. Supple red fruits to the fore. 91/100

Catena La Marchigiana Bonarda 2017 Mendoza, Argentina
No added sulphites. Sweet and ripe with slight oxidative hints on the nose. There’s a bit of prune, and some sweet cherries and plums, as well as some blackberry depth. Bold and rich with nice fruit sweetness. 89/100

Notes from February 2017

Catena Alta Historic Rows Chardonnay 2014 Mendoza, Argentina
Adrianna and Domingo vineyard, 70% malolactic, 10-12 months in oak. Textured and nutty with some fine spiciness. It’s broad and mealy but there’s nice acidity with a bit of tension on the finish. Fine spicy finish, with some nuttiness. 92/100

Catena Adrianna Vineyard White Stones Chardonnay 2013 Gualtallary, Mendoza, Argentina
Fermented and aged in in 500 litre puncheons for 20-24 months. From stony soils with some limestone on them. There’s intensity to this wine, which shows pear and peach fruit with some lemony detail. Complex fennel and nut characters, as well as a bit of waxiness, and also a distinct slightly resinous mint character that reminds me of Fernet and Mediterranean herbs. Lovely mineral characters on the finish. Intriguing combining richness and freshness. 94/100

Catena White Bones Chardonnay 2013 Gualtallary, Mendoza, Argentina
This is from just 100 m away from the white stones, and it’s completely different. So fresh, floral and mineral with lovely precision and fine lemony fruit. There’s a really lovely mineral quality here with a stony edge and taut citrus fruits, as well as some subtle mint characters lurking. There’s a really fine lemony finish that just keeps on going. A beautiful wine with concentration, purity and finesse. 96/100

Catena Alta Malbec Historic Rows 2013 Mendoza, Argentina
Four vineyards: La Pyramide, Angelica, Adrianna and Nicasia. Sleek, floral nose with lovely fresh cherries. The palate is supple and fruit driven with great balance and a lovely stony detail to the cherry and plum fruit. I love the floral aromatics and the freshness on the palate. 94/100

Catena Alta Historic Rows Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 Mendoza, Argentina
Two vineyards: La Pyramide and Domingo. Some warm cedary notes alongside the chalky black fruits on the nose. The palate is fresh and detailed with some spicy warmth, some grainy, chalky gravelly structure and a nice savoury edge to the blackcurrant and blackberry fruit. Very stylish. 93/100

Catena Zapata Malbec Argentino 2011 Mendoza, Argentina
Nicasia and Adrianna vineyards, 24 months in oak. Textural and concentrated with a fine-grained tannic structure and a hint of oak (but it’s well integrated). The palate combines fresh, floral, pretty red cherry and berry fruits with some structure and an appealing, sweet, rounded textural quality. There are layers of flavour here. It’s modern and ripe but beautifully balanced and beguiling. Power and elegance combine. 94/100

Nicholas Catena Zapata 2011 Mendoza, Argentina
A blend that depends on the year. This is 90% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Malbec. Sweetly aromatic, liqueur-like blackcurrant fruit nose is pure and modern. Concentrated palate with structured blackcurrant and berry fruit with fine spices. Quite structured with some freshness on the finish. A modern wine with real class, and which needs a bit of time to show its best. 93/100

Find these wines with