Bodega Catena Zapata
Location: Argentina, Mendoza DeLille Cellars

One of the most famous houses in Argentina, Catena was founded in the 19th century. The founder, Nicola Catena, traveled Italy to Argentina in 1898, celebrated leaving the famine in Europe for this plentiful new land by eating a piece of virtually raw steak for breakfast each morning. Best described as a tireless optimist, he firmly believed that he had found the promised land in Mendoza, where he planted his first Malbec vineyard in 1902. Malbec had been a blending grape in Bordeaux but he saw its potential in Mendoza.

Nicola’s son, Nicolaus, took over the winery in the 1960s but was faced with inflation and political turmoil in Argentina, so he took a job as a visiting economics professor at UC Berkeley. He then came back to Argentina and wanted to focus on the winery, deciding to plant Chardonnay and Malbec in Gualtallary, at almost 5,000 feet elevation. This was an unusual vineyard practice at the time but the risk paid off. In 2001 Nicolas' daughter Laura took over the Research & Development program at Bodega Catena Zapata. An Emergency Room physician with degrees from Harvard and Stanford, Laura brought a very strong science background to the family winery's R&D project. She immediately set about working with the high altitude Malbec that her father had planted and has achieved incredible success at the winery since taking over.

I was very impressed with the releases from Catena. Particularly their regular releases and Alta Series (Malbec, Chardonnay and Cabernet) offered a very serious value. Their high end releases were exceptional, as I rated all three releases 95 points. These are special occasion wines that command a 100 plus dollar price. Sometimes the Catena Malbec can be found at Costco. But for the others look for these fantastic wines at specialty northwest wine shops such as Esquin, Wine World or Total Wines or online at


Latest Tasting Reports

This wine comes from a selection of high mountain vineyards including the La Pirámide vineyard (3117 ft elevation), the Domingo Vineyard (3675 ft elevation) and the Adrianna vineyard (4757 ft). This pale golden hued Chard opens with aromas of butter, cantaloupe and Meyer lemon. There are flavors of ripe honeydew melon, brioche, pear and golden delicious apple. This smooth wine finishes clean. An impressive effort for the price. (Drink 2015-2022) - 89pts

BODEGA CATENA ZAPATA Chardonnay 'Alta' 2013
This unfined and unfiltered Chard was aged 12-16 months in French oak and was sourced from the Arianna vineyard and the Domingo vineyard. Slightly more golden color than its regular bottling cousin, the 2013 Alta begins with aromas of nutmeg, brioche, mushroom and marzipan. There are flavors of creme brûlée, banana, and golden delicious apple, with a hint of lemon zest, as this is richer more tropical fruit filled than its cousin as well. The texture and viscosity are impressive.  Plenty of stuffing in here for roasted chicken. (Drink 2015-2022) - 92pts

BODEGA CATENA ZAPATA Cabernet Sauvignon 2013
Vines chosen for this wine come from the the La Pirámide vineyard (3117 ft elevation,  the  Domingo vineyard (3675 ft elevation), the Altamira in La Consulta vineyard (3593 ft elevation) and the Adrianna vineyard (4757 ft).Aromas of cedar, cassis, anise and black olive. There are flavors of black olive, black cherry, boysenberry, and minerals. This is delicious and lithe, with nice depth and complexity, considering the price point. (Drink 2015-2022) - 90pts

This wine utilizes the Angelica vineyard (3018 ft elevation), the La Pirámide vineyard (3117 ft elevation), and the Altamira in La Consulta vineyard (3593 ft elevation). The wine opens with aromas of graphite, crushed spring flowers, and red cherry. There are flavors of milk chocolate, anise, creme de cassis and espresso. Delicious and open wine that’s approachable young. (Drink 2015-2020) - 91pts

This wine comes from the Angélica vineyard, (3018 ft elevation), Lot 4 from the La Pirámide vineyard, (3117 ft elevation), Lot 2 from the La Consulta vineyard, (3593 ft elevation), and Lots 3 & 9 from the Adrianna vineyard. This was aged 18 months in French oak prior to bottling.Lovely aromas of blackberry, milk chocolate, black cherry. There are flavors of anise, creme de cassis, Turkish coffee and milk chocolate in this smooth and delicious wine. There is a velvety mouthfeel with nice viscosity. This lithe and delicious wine is hard to resist in its youth. (Drink 2015-2029) - 93pts

BODEGA CATENA ZAPATA Cabernet Sauvignon 'Alta' 2012
Winemaker Alejandro Vigil chose vines for this Cabernet from Lot 3 of the La Pirámide vineyard (3117 ft elevation) and Lot 3 from the Domingo vineyard (3675 ft elevation). The wine opens with aromas of anise, blueberry, blackberry preserves and cedar. There are flavors of dill, red bell pepper, blackberry and a long and lingering finish. This polished effort has wonderful terroir. This is an attractive and novel bottling for the price. This one would pair exceptionally well with a high end juicy burger. (Drink 2015-2025) - 93pts

BODEGA CATENA ZAPATA Malbec 'Argentino' 2010 
The wine is a blend of Catena Zapata’s historic Malbec vineyards, Adrianna and Nicasia. The wine is made from the best grapes from the Catena estate vineyards. This dense colored wine opens with incredibly rich aromas of Turkish coffee, mocha, anise and crushed spring flowers. There are flavors of boysenberry preserves, black cherry, espresso bean and a long and lingering finish. Stinking acidity and wonderful richness on the mouthfeel. This is impressive. (Drink 2015-2029) - 95pts

BODEGA CATENA ZAPATA Malbec 'Nicasia Vineyard' 2011
The Nicasia vineyard is located in the far southerly growing region of Altamira en La Consulta. The grapes are hand-loaded into 225-500 liter new French oak barrels for a 100% barrel fermentation for a period of 15 days. Winemaker Alejandro Vigil ages the wine in French oak barrels for 18 months, followed by 24 months of aging in bottle before release. This wine opens with aromas of boysenberry, Turkish coffee, cedar and rose petals. This layered and complex wine delivers aromas of anise, creme de cassis, mocha and a wonderfully complex and mineral driven palate. This would pair marvelously with a juicy ribeye steak. (Drink 2015-2030) - 95pts

BODEGA CATENA ZAPATA 'Nicolás Catena Zapata' 2010
This is a wonderful blend of 75% Cabernet with 25% Malbec sourced from La Pirámide, Domingo, Adrianna and Nicasia Vineyards and is named after the winery founder, Dr. Nicolás Catena. The 2010 is a massive wine, yet possesses wonderful elegance. It displays a dark, inky color, followed by aromas reminiscent of dark fruits, black cherries, milk chocolate, graphite and hints of sweet oak. On the palate this is richly textured with nice viscosity, leading to delicious flavors of blueberry, blackberry, graphite and milk chocolate. Overall, this is an outstanding wine from winemaker Alejandro Vigil which shows remarkable aging potential and should continue to evolve gracefully over the next two decades, however it will require a few more years of bottle age before it hits its stride. (Best 2017-2030) - 95pts