Growing Conditions

Old Vines from the Catena Zapata Family Vineyards, Nicasia and Angélica. The origins of the vines, which we call “The Catena Cuttings”, is a prephyloxeric Massale Selection from the Angélica Vineyard. Harvest time varies depending on each lot's soil composition. Harvest time can vary by several weeks between one lot and another within the same vineyard. Angelica Vineyard: 3,018 ft (920 m). Lunlunta District, Maipú Region, Mendoza, Argentina. Adjacent to dry river bed. Light gravel, loam and clay. Nicasia Vineyard: 3,593 ft (1,095 m). Altamira in La Consulta District, Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina. Very shallow loamy topsoil with surface gravel and gravelly (large stones) dry river bed subsoil - optimal drainage. Malbec. Plant selection: Catena Cuttings malbec selection. Low yields due to moderate frosts in the UCO Valley, an early harvest, and perfect balance. Laura Catena’s favorite vintage since 1995. After Harvest 2016, the smallest and coldest in three decades thanks to El Niño, Mendoza’s wine producers were mourning their empty wineries and hoping for a big crop. But only Mother Nature gets to decide, and in 2017 we had another year of small yields—especially in the UCO Valley where most of our family’s vineyards are located. Spring frosts brought on by dryer and slightly cooler weather resulted in lower yields, and the UCO Valley Malbec was down 55%. Our delicate Malbec responds to changes in the weather by dramatically reducing yields. We could easily understand why late-19th-century Bordelais decided to replace the Malbec in their Grand Cru vineyards with hardier Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. But oh, were we delighted by the glorious, glorious concentration, heightened cool-climate acidity and explosive aromatics! After tasting the juice at the winery this month of April 2017, I can honestly say that this is possibly our best vintage since I started formally working with my father in 1995. And if anybody ever said that yields don’t matter, this year proves otherwise: Low yields result in greater concentration as long as the weather is dry and mild following a yield-reducing, yet not decimating, frost. Winter (June, July, August 2016) Following a cool and rainy 2016 El Niño year, the rains stopped in June, and over the winter, precipitations were lower than usual. Mountain snow in the Andes, however, was abundant, and we noted increased levels in the Andean Glaciers that feed our vineyards. The winter was moderate, with temperatures ever so slightly warmer than usual. Spring (September, October, November 2016) A dry, cool spring created the environment for a series of frosts (frost is more common when there is low humidity) that reduced yields overall in Mendoza by about 25% but had an even stronger effect on the UCO Valley and especially on Malbec, which was down by about 40% to 60%. The rain did come in late November, and it was a little more humid than usual over the early summer (December and January.) At that point, yields were already significantly reduced, and the slightly increased humidity was good for the vines, lowering the need for irrigation.


Summer (December 2016, January and February 2017) and Autumn (March, April, May 2017) The lower yields in the UCO Valley and resulting earlier harvest (by two weeks) gave us a much shorter harvest season overall—everybody was very, very tired by the end of March. There was less rain than usual throughout the harvest months of January and February, and by the time the heavy rains started in late March and April most of the picking was, thankfully, over. A mild summer allowed us to relax after the frosts were over, and the rain stayed away throughout the crucial picking months.


20% whole cluster and 80% whole berry fruit is hand- loaded into 225-500 liter new French oak barrels for a 100% barrel fermentation for a period of 30 days, allowing seamless oak integration. The fermentation temperature is kept low, extracting intense aromas, and the cap management is done by hand to ensure soft, gentle flavors and tannin extraction. Wild yeasts. Alcoholic and malolactic fermentation in barrel leaves considerable lees and sediment.


The wine is aged in French oak barrels for 18 months.