The history of the Catena Zapata winery began in 1898 when Patriarch Nicola Catena left Italy to move to Argentina, a nation that at the time offered interesting opportunities for development to the willing who, from the poorest and most backward areas of Europe, mainly in Italy and Spain, emigrated there. From the first vineyard, planted in 1902, the Catena family continued to thrive, so much that Nicola’s son, Domingo, had already become, in the 1950s, one of the most famous winegrowers in Mendoza. The real turning point, however, will come only with Domingo’s son: Nicolás Catena Zapata (the maternal surname), a young and brilliant economist who had moved to California to teach economics at the famous Berkley University, and here, in his spare time, had explored the most famous wineries of the time. California was beginning to impose its wines to the attention of wine lovers around the world, and their production style eventually influenced Nicolás’ work when, in 1985, he took over the reins of the family business.
The development process, however, was just at the beginning because, studying the characteristics of the wines produced, Nicolás realized he was looking for a more elegant and refined taste, and so he made a decision that his contemporaries did not hesitate to stigmatize as crazy: planting vineyards at extreme altitudes. The first area affected by this revolution was the vineyard “Adrianna” (in honor of the youngest daughter), in Gualtarray, in one of the coldest areas of the Mendoza region, at 1500 meters of altitude. On-site studies showed that, in addition to a colder climate, which allowed harvesting perfectly ripe grapes, with a lower sugar concentration than the plain (and therefore a lower potential alcohol content), the grapes developed thicker skins, rich in polyphenols, and a greater amount of indigenous yeasts.
Exactly from a parcel of 2.2 hectares of this vineyard, called “White Bones” (white bones) because of the soil rich in calcareous fossils of animal origin, deposited on the bed of a river that in prehistoric times crossed the region, was born the homonymous Chardonnay “White Bones”. The grapes, after a manual harvest and a plant sorting, ferment and macerate, in barriques and tonneaux, for a period between 45 and 95 days, at a temperature of 16 degrees, then age between 12 and 16 months in oak barrels with frequent batonnage.
The 2018 vintage boasts a straw-yellow color of medium consistency with an olfactory fan that opens with notes of chlorophyll, vanilla, lychee and Chinese Mandarin, followed by lime, yellow plum, freshly cut grass and Normandy butter, with final echoes of burnt calcium and flint. The mouthfeel is medium-bodied, dominated by an electrifying acidity, around which are grafted the sapidity and a slight spicy note, all enriched by the return of citrus and vegetable that persist for a long time even after a refreshing closure.
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