- La Pirámide Vineyard: 3,117 ft (950 m). Agrelo District, Luján de Cuyo Region, Mendoza, Argentina. Deep alluvial loam with 30% clay that decreases soil temperature by 35,6ºF (2ºC) in average. Cabernet Sauvignon. - Angélica Vineyard: 3,018 ft (920 m). Lunlunta District, Maipú Region, Mendoza, Argentina. Alluvial origin. Loamy clay in the topsoil with rounded rocks on the bottom. Malbec. The 1996-1997 season, while benefiting from Mendoza's ideal winegrowing climate, presented similar challenges to the 95/96 season. The winter of 1996 was rather mild, with no extreme cold spells and only light snowfall. This lack of snow caused a scarcity of snowmelt, resulting in drought problems for those vineyards which depend solely on river waters for irrigation. Once again the effects of such shortages were minimized in the Catena vineyards due to the connection of the irrigation system to an underground aquifer which ensures a secure supply of pure mountain spring water. Spring began with warm and dry weather, allowing the vines to enjoy uniform budding, with a high quality and quantity of clusters. While the plants were budding, isolated hail storms caused a thinning of clusters and a subsequent fall in 1997 production in some vineyards. The use of antihail nets in our vineyards served to minimize the damage to the budding vines. Flowering then took place towards the end of Spring, in a dry and hot climate, providing an excellent set of berries per cluster. Mendoza enjoyed a fairly long and hot summer, offering the grapes the opportunity to ripen fully. In the second week of March, however, passing thunderstorms forced some producers to advance the harvest of many white varietals. The cropping and leaf removal techniques used in the Catena vineyards, minimized the effects of these inopportune storms. These techniques allow for minimum foliage cover around each cluster and thereby help the bunches to dry quickly. The rest of the harvest season, throughout the last weeks of March, offered unbeatable climatic conditions. The days were sunny and mild, the nights cool and dry, allowing the grapes to complete their maturation cycle. The last grapes to be harvested, notably Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon, showed an excellent ripeness of tannins and an exceptional balance between sugar and acidity. In conclusion, while the 96/97 growing season presented several challenges to the vineyard management team of Catena, the combination of advanced vineyard techniques and the natural characteristics of the Mendoza climate resulted in an excellent harvest of highly concentrated fruit, promising to make the 1997 vintage one to remember.
Unfined and unfiltered.
De-stemmed, whole berry fruit is hand-loaded into 225-500 liter new French oak foudres for a 100% barrel fermentation for a period of 18 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 24 months. 210 separate row microvinifications from different lots and harvest times.