Measured and steady release of supple brambled fruits, wonderfully fragrant and well judged, this combines depth of fruit flavour with softly expressed tannins, crayon, truffles, black pepper and smoked oak.
Such a distinct and vibrant expression of these Left Bank Bordeaux varieties, givien a ripeness in Argentina that they are not always able to get in France, harnessed by the grace and careful precison of the Catena family.
Brilliant vintage of this landmark Argentinian wine. Ungrafted vines, Fernando Buscema winemaker, Alejandro Vigil wine director, 3.64ph.
Drink 2026 - 2040
Jane Anson, JaneAnson.com (July 2023)
Cassis, tobacco, wet stones, iron and baking spices to the nose, showing class, restraint and complexity. Medium- to full-bodied on the palate with super fine tannins. Dry, super elegant and silky with a lengthy, polished finish. Really Bordeaux-like. Juicy and long.
54% cabernet sauvignon from Gualtallary, 25% cabernet franc from Altamira and 21% malbec from both areas. The highest portion of cabernet franc this year helped retain its nervy freshness! This is classy and beautiful.
Harvested on March 12th and 13th.
Drink or hold
Zekun Shuai, Senior Editor, JamesSuckling.com (April 2023)
Wonderfully aromatic and nuanced on the nose, so alive and open. Energetic and lively on the palate, this has so much spark and brightness to it. Really compelling from the first sip, the tannins ample and cushioning the slick black fruit and accompanying savoury spices.
Feels lean and taught but with so much flair. Really a lovely expression, so generous and well-defined. It is youthful, as you'd expect right now, but when this softens, it will be a beauty. It's just gorgeous, with a minty fresh finish.
Wine director Alejandro Vigil, winemaker Fernando Buscema.
Drink 2026 - 2042
Georgina Hindle, Decanter.com (August 2023)
The 2020 Nicolás Catena Zapata is a blend composed of 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Malbec and 20% Cabernet Franc sourced from Paraje Altamira in the Uco Valley. It was carefully aged for up to 16 months in French oak barrels—garnet in hue.
The nose reveals captivating cassis, rose, blackberry, plum and fig aromas harmoniously combined with dried flowers. The palate presents a dry and ample profile, with fine-grained tannins and a juicy flow that leads to a vibrant mouthfeel, brimming with energy.
This meticulously crafted red achieves precise balance in a warm vintage.
Drink 2025 - 2040
Joaquín Hidalgo, Vinous.com (June 2023)
A blend of 54% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Cabernet Franc, and 21% Malbec, the 2020 Nicolas Catena Zapata is deep garnet-purple in color. It rolls out with vibrant notes of redcurrant jelly, cassis, and baked plums, leading to hints of crushed rocks, wild sage, and fragrant soil. The medium-bodied palate is refreshing, finely crafted, and elegantly styled, with vibrant black fruit and savory layers and a fine-grained texture, finishing with a real skip in its step.
Drink now to 2040
Lisa Perrotti-Brown, The 2023 Beyond Bordeaux Releases, TheWineIndependent.com
About this WINE
Bodega Catena Zapata
Nicolás Catena developed a vinous knowledge from exposure to Bordeaux and Napa wines in the 1970s, combined with experience of working his family winery. His vision saw the establishment of the now 4th generation family winery, which has built its successes upon the fastidious viticulture & vinification of individual plots of Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon of the highest quality.
Planted at higher altitudes in the Andes, the vines enjoying cool nights and soils to retain all-important acidity and freshness, a style which is apparent throughout their wines. A complex vinification includes 200 micro-vinifications to respect the individual rows, altitudes and harvest times, which are then married together in French oak for 24 months, and a further 2 years in bottle before release.
Initially produced in 1997, a blend of Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon, the Nicolás Catena Zapata quickly gained traction when it outperformed numerous 1st growth Bordeaux and fine wines from across the world in a series of blind tastings. The wine has impressed the most renowned wine critics whose praise does not go unnoticed, given the loyal following Nicolás Catena Zapata has developed across the vinous globe.
With its western borderline dominated by the Andes and its 146,000 hectares of vineyards representing 70% of the country’s wine production, Mendoza is Argentina’s biggest and most important wine-growing province.
Mendoza’s vineyards are a haven to Old World varieties including Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Tempranillo, Bonarda, Sangiovese, Barbera, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Chenin Blanc. The province’s signature grape is Malbec.
Mendoza still produces large amounts of inexpensive wine for domestic consumption, as well as grape concentrate, but the sub-region of Luján de Cuyo stands out with some lovely velvety Malbecs, while the cool, gravelly Maipú is best for Cabernet Sauvignon.
The most exciting area in Mendoza for fine whites, however, is the Uco Valley, that has the highest vineyards, up to 1,200 metres above sea level. Chardonnay, Sauvignon, Chenin, Pinot Grigio and Torrontés fare particularly well in its cool climate. Its sub-region of Tupungato produces Argentina’s best Chardonnay.
Cabernet Sauvignon Blend
Cabernet Sauvignon lends itself particularly well in blends with Merlot. This is actually the archetypal Bordeaux blend, though in different proportions in the sub-regions and sometimes topped up with Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petit Verdot.
In the Médoc and Graves the percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend can range from 95% (Mouton-Rothschild) to as low as 40%. It is particularly suited to the dry, warm, free- draining, gravel-rich soils and is responsible for the redolent cassis characteristics as well as the depth of colour, tannic structure and pronounced acidity of Médoc wines. However 100% Cabernet Sauvignon wines can be slightly hollow-tasting in the middle palate and Merlot with its generous, fleshy fruit flavours acts as a perfect foil by filling in this cavity.
In St-Emilion and Pomerol, the blends are Merlot dominated as Cabernet Sauvignon can struggle to ripen there - when it is included, it adds structure and body to the wine. Sassicaia is the most famous Bordeaux blend in Italy and has spawned many imitations, whereby the blend is now firmly established in the New World and particularly in California and Australia.