2018 Catena Zapata Malbec Adrianna Vineyard River Stones
James Suckling | 100 JS
James Suckling | 100 JS
The 2018 Adrianna Vineyard River Stones is always the freshest and most austere of the three single-plot bottlings from the Adrianna Vineyard on Gualtallary. This fermented with some 70% full clusters, as it was harvested at three different times and the first two fermented with full clusters and the last pick was added destemmed to the fermentation. The nose is subtle, elegant and nuanced; the grapes were picked quite early in 2018 and that ensured a vibrant palate with almost citrus (blood orange) sensations. A small percentage of the wine matured in stainless steel. They have been working with the irrigation and only irrigated it four times that year, achieving more precision in the viticulture, which gets reflected in the balance of the wine. This has very fine tannins, a very fine thread and a dry, long and tasty finish. This is markedly stony, true to the character of the place. Red fruit, textured and mineral. 5,160 bottles were filled in December 2019.
Robert Parker Wine Advocate | 99 RP
Riverstone is a 1.6-hectare parcel of Malbec grown in a dry river bed of stones coated in calcium carbonate. The winemaking process begins with fermentation in 500-liter barrels, followed by 20 months’ aging in French oak barrels. Expressive, like all wines grown in stony soil, this is also fruity with notes of sour cherry, raspberry and lavender. The palate is quite intense, offering hints of chalk that define the texture and a saline flavor that enhances and channels the effect in the mouth.
Vinous Media | 95 VM
Wine Details for 2018 Catena Zapata Malbec Adrianna Vineyard River Stones
|Type of Wine
: If there were ever a single word that could perfectly describe fine Argentinian wines, it would be "purity." Red wine lovers could easily become spoiled for choice when that choice involves varietals such as Malbec or Tempranillo. With a complete dedication to a given grape, each bottle tells a compelling story, so have a seat and listen.
: When one door closes, another opens; such is true for the magnificent Malbec grape varietal. Though it originated in Southwest France and was originally one of the five main Bordeaux grape varietals, its history in that country is a troubled one. But…In the last few decades Malbec has been rejuvenated and has once again been thrust into the global spotlight. The star of Argentina is not native to South American, nevertheless has found a home, fame and success in its terroir.
The geographical origin of Malbec is not known with certainty; however, most sources and DNA testing have concluded that Malbec most likely originated in the vineyards surrounding the Lot River in Southwest France near the town of Cahors. The “black wines” from Cahors were incredibly popular with the medieval clergy and royalty and were reputedly served at the 1152 wedding of Eleanor of Aquitaine and Henry II of England. In 1225, Henry III refused to allow Bordeaux authorities from taxing wines sent by Cahors’ merchants who were under his protection. Pope John XXII (born in Cahors in 14th century) used vintages from the area as sacramental wines in Avignon (when Papal court resided in France).
Malbec had become immensely popular in Southwest France and eventually migrated to Bordeaux in the 1700’s where the varietal found success and greatly influenced blending in the Right Bank as well as the Medoc. Malbec was a major component to Bordeaux blends prior to the 19th century and may have greatly impacted the official 1855 Classification. During the early 1800’s, it is thought that some estates used as much as 50% in their blending.
When the phylloxera epidemic crippled most of Bordeaux’s vineyards in 1869, much of the vines devoted to Malbec were destroyed. Due to the grapes natural susceptibility to various diseases, frost, mildew and coulure (viticultural hazard resulting from changing weather patterns) most of the major replanting in the region was in favor of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. The final fall from favor for Malbec in Bordeaux occurred after the devastating frost of 1956.
During the time of its fall in Bordeaux, Malbec was on the rise in the most unlikely of places, Argentina. It is thought to have been brought to South America in the 1850’s by Michel Pouget where the varietal prospered in optimum climate and terroir. The inky black-blue and thin-skinned Malbec grape requires specific climatic conditions to fully ripen. In Mondoza, Argentina, it found these requirements and much more.
The grape is adaptable to a variety of soil types; however, Malbec reaches its true zenith in the terroir of rocky, sandy soils of Mendoza which are low in fertility, but perfect for viticulture. This kind of soil forces the vines to work harder for hydration and nutrients, producing smaller berries. The result is fruit that is highly concentrated and flavorful. Where Malbec is adaptable to a variety of soils, making terroir less of a concern, it is however quite sensitive to consistently changing weather patterns and temperatures. Malbec thrives in dry climates, sunny weather and high elevations, perfectly describing the natural climate and terrain of Argentina. In Mendoza, Malbec enjoys the hot sun, most likely because of its high vigor and dense leaf canopy. The warm evening temperatures contribute to the reduction of grape acids, so that Malbec in Argentina is not as acidic as that in France. Furthermore, growers have observed that older Malbec vines in Mendoza’s higher altitude areas produce Malbec grapes with intense color, flavor and structure. The introduction of Malbec to Argentina is considered one of the greatest contributions to South America and its winemaking and growing industry.
Today, Malbec is the undisputed star of Argentina, where the fruit reaches its best expression. Since the 1990’s Malbec from Mendoza has created a stir on the wine market with consumers clawing to get bottles from star producers such as Catena Zapata and Cheval des Andes. It is nearly ironic that Bordeaux producers have begun partnering with proprietors in Mendoza but the result of this union has done great things for both the country’s wine industry as well as the production of quality bottlings for consumers who have become tantalized by the inky-black wines produced there. When ripe, it adds dark color, tannin and spicy characteristics to the wine, producing deep-colored, rich wines with freshness, balanced acidity, lush, round and supple textures with flavors of plum and blackberry.
Despite its demise in Bordeaux and its great accomplishments in Argentina, Cahors remains the spiritual home for Malbec. AOC (controlled designation of origin) laws dictate that no less than 70% of the variety be included in the blend. Malbec continues to enjoy a long history in Southwest France, particularly the appellation of Cahors, which could date back to the ancient Romans. It remains a symbol of success in Southwest France and a budding star of Argentina.
: Argentina’s landscape is marked by its extreme geographical features; from the soaring, rocky peaks of the Andes’ and coastal Patagonia to the arid soils of Mendoza to the fertile Pampas lowlands in the east. Its vast array of landscapes, climate and geography, along with truly accomplished and passionate vintners has helped galvanize its name among the very best wine producing regions in the world. Its adopted grape variety, Malbec, is now responsible for some of Argentina’s most famous wines and has helped to elevate its ever growing wine industry.
Vines have been cultivated in Argentina since the 1500’s; however it was not until the 1990s when its true potential was recognized, drawing the attention of accomplished winemakers to its diverse soils. After making a name for himself in California, Paul Hobbs’ foresight and vision led him to cultivate Argentinian soil. More than merely an exploration of terroirs, Vina Cobos was created to showcase what is possible with one of the world’s most compelling noble varietals, Malbec, in a land where its soul soars above all others. Its inaugural vintage marked a milestone, but two decades later, Cobos made history when the 2011 vintage Cobos Malbec became the country’s first professionally rated 100-point wine, defying existing standards and firmly positioning Malbec and Argentina on the international wine scene. This accomplishment became the blueprint that many others would follow.
Today, the high altitude deserts have given rise to a high quality wine industry. The region of Mendoza has gained global recognition for its quality production of Malbec, the ubiquitous and most compelling varietal cultivated in Argentina. Three quarters of Argentinian wine production takes place in Mendoza with Mendoza Malbec accounting for 85% of all Malbec produced in the country. In addition to its flagship varietal, Argentina also boasts significant plantings of Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Bonarda and its signature, aromatic white varietal, Torrontes. In more recent years, vineyards have been planted to Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir and Tempranillo.
Despite its location near the equator, extreme temperatures are muted by the high altitudes and cold mountain air. Argentina is home to a world-topping vineyard and currently the highest elevation being cultivated at a whopping 9,900 feet above sea level. The Andes’ play a significant role in its climate as it casts a rain shadow over its foothills, allowing very little rain fall and a slow growing season. This slow ripening period leads to concentrated fruit, balanced sugars and acidity in the grapes. From the southern reaches of Patagonia to the northern regions of Salta and Catamarca, the land plays a vital role in the winegrowing and making practices here. Its terroir is well suited to not only Malbec, but to the many varieties in the country’s portfolio.
Argentina boasts an impressive 223,500 hectares under vine with an annual wine output of 10.8 million hectoliters. The country has recently edged Australia’s production and now sits at fifth among all leading producers in the world. Argentina has become one of the most important wine producing countries on Earth, the largest region in South America and one of the principal faces of New World winemaking. Argentina is a remarkable land; one which truly tells its story through the wine itself.
|Bodega Catena Zapata