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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.

Catena Chardonnay combines the unique expressions of three high altitude vineyard sites. The wine shows an intense greenish color with yellow notes. The extraordinary combination of these vineyards offer honey and tropical fruit flavors while lending notes of citrus, pears, peaches, and white flowers with a strong minerality and a delicate note of vanilla. The mouthfeel is clean, with a fresh, clean acidity.

So let’s take a look at the 2012 Catena Chardonnay, which is a blend of different terroirs from Mendoza, Villa Bastias, Agrelo and Gualtallary, fermented with indigenous yeasts with 13.5% alcohol and a mindboggling acidity and freshness (Acidity (grams/liter): 6.20, pH: 3.22). Even if today the name Catena is closely linked to Malbec, they really started out producing Chardonnay. They launched a Chardonnay from Argentina at $20, the first expensive Chardonnay from the country. For this 2012, the vines used range from 1,300 to 1,480 meters altitude, mostly from the Uco Valley. Only 20% of the wine is aged in new wood, 50% of the wine is aged in used wood and the rest in inox. From the half aged in oak, only 20% of the barrels are new. 60% of the wine is made without malolactic. The old barrels are not filled and the wine develops a thin veil of yeast (like in Jura and Sherry). This has a Burgundian texture with great freshness. The calcareous soil is felt, and the wine is pungent, intense and impressively vibrant for a vintage like 2012. Rating: 91 points; Robert Parker's Wine Advocate

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