“Nicolás Catena Zapata is justly credited with putting Argentinean wines on the world map—by the best expedient of focusing entirely on quality.
It’s great to know he has started a wine dynasty, too.” -Jancis Robinson, Financial Times Wine Journalist.
The above quote, while one of the best summaries out there, does not give Catena due credit.
Bodega Catena Zapata was founded back in 1902 and was one of the driving forces in resurrecting Malbec and bringing it to the world stage in terms of quality.
Nicolas Catena Malbec Review
Catena focuses on making exceptional quality wines at high-altitude vineyards. They produce many varietals in a number of styles, but there is a reason that the brand is practically synonymous with Malbec.
This varietal was originally French in nature but has thrived in Argentina since the late 19th century.
Today, over 75% of all the acres of Malbec in the world are located in Argentina, and they have breathed new life into a varietal that can, when properly produced, rival the likes of Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah when produced properly.
The wine is a rich purple color in the glass, with a magenta rim. It has a pretty middle-of-the-road body, which I think perfectly suits the grape varietal. The legs form in due time with a swirl of the glass and fall somewhat slowly.
Aromas of dark berries, plums, and violets fill the glass nicely. Hints of bramble and oaky spice are present as well, which lends good depth and keeps the wine from smelling one-dimensional.
While not as aromatic as many Malbecs I have had, I like the style. It is a bit more restrained, in an almost old-world style that makes you really think about the layers going on here.
Plum sauce, underripe raspberries, and wild blackberries are the first thing you will notice pouring forth from this wine.
After that, dried violets, hints of minerality, a bit of smoke, and black cherry take over the driver’s seat and lead to a lovely finish.
The finish is relatively short, lending a nice, fresh sensation to the wine that is quite enjoyable.
This wine is heavy, dark, and just a little rich. It is not as fruity as many entry-level Malbecs and has some lovely tannic structure which adds some texture to the mouthfeel of the bottle.
What Does Nicolas Catena Malbec Pair With?
The short finish means that this wine works quite well with leaner cuts of meat. I would encourage you to go for something exotic!
Buffalo burgers, ostrich, and roasted lamb come to mind. Bonus points if you throw some blue cheese and bacon on the burger. Just thinking about the combination makes me hungry!
If you aren’t feeling meat, wild rice with stuffed bell peppers work fantastically with this bottle. As do grilled mushrooms.
Heck, if you’re an omnivore like me, go for a shish kebab decked out with grilled lamb and mushrooms with blue cheese, and you’ll be drooling before you can even take your first bite!
What Wines Are Similar to Nicolas Catena Malbec?
I would recommend trying 90+ Cellars Malbec, as it is another powerful option that over-delivers on both intensity and flavor.
You could also explore the many wines from Catena, all the way up to their Adrianna Vineyard Malbec, which is named after Nicolas Catena’s daughter!
Alternatively, go straight for his daughter’s label. El Enemigo is a fantastic line that is a newer member of the Catena dynasty’s brands, and each bottle over-delivers.
Try the Bonarda for a fun and unique offering in this same neighborhood!
Exceptional for the style. If you are looking for a juicy, fruity, light Malbec, then you might want to keep looking.
But if you want a powerhouse of a Malbec, complete with structure, power, and intensity, then this is your bottle. This is definitely a Malbec built in such a way that it appeals to Cabernet Sauvignon drinkers.