AT A GLANCE:
Name of wine estate: Catena Zapata
Wine region: Mendoza
Standout points: The architectural tour de force that is the Mayan-inspired Catena Zapata winery; the 5,000ft altitude Adrianna vineyard – the ‘grand cru of South America’
Winemaker: Alejandro Vigil
Wine style: Chiselled, intensely flavoured Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon from high altitudes
Mastery of Malbec
Distinguished by its pyramid-like design based on the architecture of the Mayan civilisation, there are few more visually striking winery properties in the world than Catena Zapata. The winery is in the Agrelo sub-appellation of Mendoza – often referred to as the cradle of Argentinian Malbec. Founded in 1902 by Italian immigrant Nicola Catena, the estate made its greatest strides through his grandson, Nicolás Catena Zapata, one of the first vintners to introduce European winemaking techniques to Argentina and a pioneer in cultivating Malbec at the high altitudes of the Andean foothills.
‘The face of Argentine wine’
The modern-day success of Catena Zapata is the result of the work of a talented and dedicated team, but special mention must go to Nicolás’ daughter, Laura Catena – fourth-generation vintner, eminent physician, author and de facto ‘face of Argentine wine’ – who still actively runs the winery. Laura is also responsible for the revolutionary Catena Institute of Wine, which she established to focus on the study of terroir, sustainability and oenological research geared towards promoting Mendoza as a region for top-quality wines.
South America’s ‘grand cru’
For those wishing to gain a deeper understanding of the Catena Zapata range and the Agrelo terroir, signing up to one of the winery’s dedicated tasting and tour experiences is surely a must. Enjoy a guided tour of the historic and beautiful Adrianna vineyard – lying at almost 5,000ft elevation and often called the ‘grand cru of South America’ – complete with a barrel tasting and a sampling of four wines from the vineyard, back at the winery. For Malbec aficionados, there’s also the Renaissance of Malbec Visit, which offers a deep dive into the history of Malbec, with a visit to La Pirámide vineyard, a guided barrel tasting and a sampling of four prestige wines.