It has a ripe nose of blackberry fruit with hints of vanilla from oak aging.
This full-bodied wine enters softly into the mouth and finishes with sweet, velvety tannins. Catena Alta Malbec will only be made in exceptional vintage years. No Catena Alta Malbec was made in 1998.
The grapes for Catena Alta Malbec come from a select block of Catena's more than 60 year old Angélica vineyard. Named after Nicolás Catena's mother, the Angélica vineyard is Catena's premier Malbec vineyard. The soil and climate of the Angélica vineyard are ideal for growing Malbec. Clay soils with a rocky sub-soil allow for excellent drainage, and the continental climate of warm days followed by cool nights allows for even ripening and a prolonged hang-time. 90% Malbec sourced from the sandy, clay soil of Lot 18 of the 70 year old Angélica vineyard, and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon sourced from the lime, clay soil of Lot 3 in the La Pirámide vineyard. The 1999 growing season was characterized by fairly warmer than usual conditions, although cooler than 1997. Average March temperatures reached 20.7° C in Angélica, resulting in concentrated fruit flavors and a soft, supple texture. The colder night time conditions, with average lows at 14.2° C, extended hang time which increased aromatic complexity. The winter of 1998, after a rather rainy autumn, was dry and temperate. There were not many frosts and so Spring arrived in a dry and moderate atmosphere, with some large temperature variations. Despite the dry conditions, there were some late frost dangers due to the wide thermal amplitude between daytime highs and nighttime lows. In the Catena vineyards, any potential damage to the vines was avoided through the use of heaters in the vineyards. Summer began with warm and dry weather conditions, demanding the use of irrigation from the underground aquifers. The rest of the summer season offered ideal conditions for the grapes to mature gradually and completely. The large difference between daytime highs and nighttime lows in the high altitude vineyards of the Andean foothills give the grapes the opportunity to fully develop all elements of color and aroma, as well as ensuring the maturity of ripe sweet tannins in the reds and an excellent sugar/acid balance in the whites.
The harvest began in mid-March and lasted through the second week of April. Dry and moderate conditions allowed for Catena's vineyard management team to select the exact moment of optimum ripeness for the harvest of all the fruit. The vines destined for Catena Alta Malbec undergo a detailed thinning process aimed at leaving only select, isolated clusters. Harvest generally occurs in the later half of March, and the decision to pick is based not on numbers, but on tasting for fruit maturity. The grapes are harvested by hand into small (800kg) containers.
After destemming, the fruit undergoes a cold maceration of four days, out of a total of 28 days. Fermentation takes place between 30 and 32 degrees centigrade with a light pumping over to saturate only the caps. Total Acidity: 6.07 grams/liter Unfined and unfiltered
The new wine is then aged for 13 months in 100% new French oak from Taransaud.
The 1999 Catena Malbec has a dark violet/purple color with black notes.
This vintage can be enjoyed now and will continue to improve over the next 6 to 7 years.