There are some wine families which are just legendary. The Catenas are one of them. Nicolas Catena is credited with being one of the instrumental drivers in turning around the Argentine wine industry in the 80s and 90s, taking it from mass production to fine wine.
His daughter and fourth generation winemaker Laura Catena, the General Director of Catena Zapata, is also credited with propelling the Argentine wine scene to the global stage. Often called the ‘face’ of Argentine wine, she is an ambassador at large in promoting her country’s wine around the world and was the first to write an English language book on Argentine wine, Vino Argentino: An Insider's Guide to the Wines and Wine Country of Argentina.
I recently interviewed her and wanted to find out from one of the families that have shaped the history of Argentine wine, what she believes will be the future – single varietal wines or terroir driven blends.
“In terms of the near future I think it’s about both. When you make a blend of Malbec from Lujan de Cuyo, with Malbec from La Consulta, with Malbec from Maipu, you are almost blending varieties because these Malbecs are so different one from the other that to me, that’s actually a blend.
“Wine is all about taking great components, whether it be two varietals from a vineyard, or the Bordeaux concept of taking every variety from a vineyard, or what we do with some of our top wines which is to take different lots at different altitude of the same variety, or of two different varieties.
“When I think of making a wine, whether it be a blend of different altitudes (same variety or different varieties) I’m always thinking of what combination will give a great flavour and a new flavour. When my father introduced high altitiude malbec that was a new flavour that had no jaminess, it was basically violet aromatics, a little tight, very black fruit, almost a little minerality - that’s a new flavour. You can get a new flavour from a single variety or from a blend.
“To me the future of wine is more about experimenting with different blends, maybe with the same variety at different places, but bringing to wine drinkers around the world new experiences and new flavours.”
Amanda Barnes is a British journalist living in Mendoza and is on a real high enjoying drinking wine at all sorts of different altitudes around South America, from the altiplano heights of Cafayate, to the jungle humidity of lowland Brazil.