Founded in 1902 and known for its pioneering role in resurrecting Malbec as well as discovering extremely high-altitude terroirs in the Andean foothills of Mendoza, Bodega Catena Zapata is now the number one vineyard in the world. At the recently held World's Best Vineyards 2023 awards ceremony in Spain's Rioja wine region on July 12, 2023, the winery emerged as the best vineyard in South America on its way to topping the world in the overall rankings. Since the first Malbec vineyard planting by founder Nicolás Catena over a hundred years ago the wines of Bodega Catena Zapata have become a global favourite, with grapes coming from six historic estate vineyards: Angélica, La Pirámide, Nicasia, Domingo, Adrianna, and Angélica Sur. With the Andes mountain range as a stunning backdrop all year round, the Mayan temple-inspired, pyramid-shaped winery rises majestically from the surrounding vines.
The top vineyards in the world for 2023 were chosen after a rigorous process by a voting panel that included more than 500 wine and travel experts from over 22 geographical regions. After nominations are received there is a vote to determine which of the nominees emerge as top of their continent en route to winning the number one spot in the world from amongst the top 100. Once all votes are counted and collated, wineries are then ranked based on their all-around visitor experience which includes architectural aesthetic, food and beverage dining facilities, in addition to innovations geared at enhancing overall customer satisfaction.
At the heart of Catena Zapata's success lies its unwavering commitment to quality, while maintaining its deep respect for the unique terroir of Mendoza. With innovation at the heart of the bodega's journey the winery carefully tends to its vineyards, harnessing the benefits of altitude, climate, and soil to craft exceptional wines. Their flagship grape, Malbec, flourishes in this environment, yielding bold, expressive, and velvety wines that have captured the palates of wine enthusiasts worldwide. Nicolás Catena Zapata's pioneering spirit, extensive research, along with his dedication to elevating Argentine wines on the international stage, have resulted in a winery that has consistently received acclaim from critics and wine connoisseurs across the world.
Beyond Malbec, Bodega Catena Zapata's portfolio boasts a diverse range of varietals that showcase their versatility and expertise in the creation of sought after vintages. From the elegant Chardonnay to the powerful Cabernet Sauvignon, each wine bears the signature of their meticulous craftsmanship while developing a legacy that extends far beyond Argentina's borders. As one of the country's leading vintners the winery is revered as a symbol of the nation's winemaking prowess, inspiring both enthusiasts and aspiring vintners alike. Each bottle of wine produced by Bodega Catena Zapata encapsulates the spirit of Argentina as it shares its passion for wine with the world, and today Thursday Food introduces you to some of outstanding white vintages from this bodega.
Adrianna Vineyard White Stones 2020 is a 97-point 100 per cent Chardonnay varietal that was recently selected as Argentina's best white wine in Descorchados's 2023 ranking report. Made from grapes grown in Mendoza's Uco Valley, the wine exhibits delicate aromas of lemon zest, pineapple, white pepper, cloves, jasmine, white peach along with mineral notes of crushed stones and chalk. In the mouth it is medium-bodied, concentrated, extremely elegant and mineral with lively, refreshing acidity followed by a long and persistent finish that expresses notes of salty almonds towards the end.
Adrianna Vineyard White Bones Chardonnay 2020, another 100 per cent Chardonnay varietal from Bodega Catena Zapata, scored 96 points and earned for itself a runner-up spot on the white wine listing, behind the previously mentioned White Stones Chardonnay, in the Descorchado ranking report. This wine has an exquisite aroma that combines notes of lavender, lemon, pineapple, green apple, thyme, rosemary, sourdough, almonds, and oysters. It is also medium-bodied, with vibrant acidity and a tense, spicy palate that expresses intense flavours in the mouth.
Nicasia Vineyards Blanc de Blancs is a white wine blend that comprises 60 per cent Viognier, 25 per cent Gewürztraminer and 15 per cent Sauvignon Blanc produced from vineyards in the Altamira, San Carlos area of Mendoza, Argentina. On the nose its aroma is rich with enticing Viognier expressing traces of peach and white stone fruit, intermingled with Gewürztraminer floral notes and Sauvignon Blanc fresh citrus. Barrel ageing provides further complexity with delicate honey flavours in the mouth, resulting in a wine that is elegant, complex and balanced.
Catena Appellation Luján de Cuyo White Clay 2022 is a deeply aromatic wine with expressive citrus and peach aromas, minerality, and a rich finish from vineyards in Lujan de Cuyo. Made with 60 per cent Semillón grapes and 40 per cent Chenin Blanc grapes, the wine has a medium-gold hue with a light honeyed tone with waxed lemon and fine lees. On the palate it is creamy, round, and medium-bodied with an intense minerality that is richly textured and has a good grip.
Saint Felicien Semillón Doux is a naturally sweet white wine that was made exclusively with 100 per cent Semillón variety grapes, from the Agrelo vineyard, which were affected by Botrytis Cinerea (or noble rot fungus). 'Noble Rot' causes what is known as passerillage, which means there is a concentration of sugars and acids in the grape due to loss of water. The wine produced as a result is an intense yellow colour with golden sparkles that is complex on the nose. Its aromas are reminiscent of honey, vanilla and hints of white peach while on the palate.It is long, persistent and sweet with subtle syrupy, citrus flavours along with a crisp, balanced acidity.
Catena Zapata has steadily crafted an enviable place for itself as one of the most prominent wineries in Argentina and indeed, South America. Through their dedication to quality, innovative practices, and commitment to showcasing the best of Mendoza's terroir they have undoubtedly left an indelible mark on the world of wine. Salud!