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Nicola Cantena planted his first Malbec vineyard in Mendoza in 1902 and today the estate is run by Nicholas Catena and his daughter Laura. Malbec continues to be the estates focus and the wineries pristine vineyards lie at the base of the Andes on soils of sand, lime and stone at altitudes between 920 and 1120 metres above sea level. Over the last 20 years, the fastidous vineyard work of Nicholas and Laura has paid dividends and Catena Zapata is now one of Argentina's most famous estates. Lush, beautifully created wines are what you can expect from Catena Zapata.

The venerable Bodegas Catena Zapata has played a crucial role in raising the profile of Argentine Malbec internationally. They produce several exceptional wines which are consistently highly lauded by Robert Parker and his ilk. Leaving the Parker points aside, perhaps an even more remarkable fact about Catena is that its moderately-priced wines also receive plenty of praise. One of my favourite everyday wines, the Alamos Malbec, is consistently rated as amongst the best value Argentine reds.

This isn’t a wine that intoxicates your soul with its promise of depth, refinement and mysterious sublimity. Rather, it’s the kind of wine to bring a bit of punchy summery cheer to a weekday night or to win dinner party brownie points. Since vintages don’t vary too much in Mendoza (no way near as much as in Bordeaux or Burgundy, for example) and it’s made by a big producer, you can expect something reasonably similar in every bottle. You can typically expect a meaty mouthful of ripe, spicy blackberries and plums topped off with chocolate and black pepper. This wine is, in many ways, the “classic” Malbec – soft, approachable but with plenty of power. Just the thing for a nice hunk of meat. Alamos Malbec 2015: The cheap and charming everyday drinker. Wine Culturist 

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