This is the second joint venture in South America for the global DBR-Lafite group, whose holdings include Bordeaux first-growth Château Lafite Rothschild and Chile's Los Vascos winery.
Catena winemaker Estela Perinetti will oversee the as yet unnamed project along with DBR-Lafite's Christian Le Sommer, former winemaker for Château Latour, who now consults in California as well as for Los Vascos and Carmen in Chile.
The joint-venture wine will be made at a new, separate facility in the vicinity of Godoy Cruz in Mendoza, and the grapes will be sourced from several vineyards that are owned or leased by Catena. The new project will not compete for fruit with Catena's other high-end wines -- Catena Alta and Zapata.
"We have 300 hectares [740 acres] that just turned 10 years old, and we're starting to get access to some really top-quality fruit," said Laura Catena, Nicolas' daughter and company vice president. "If this were Burgundy, we'd have a problem, but we've got a lot of prime vineyards starting to come on line."
The joint venture's first wine, from the 2000 vintage, has already been made at the Zapata winery, where the 2001 vintage will also be produced. Starting with the 2002 vintage, the new facility will be used. The 2000 vintage is a blend of 73 percent Cabernet Sauvignon and 27 percent Malbec, though that percentage will likely change over the years depending on the grapes and vintage quality.
There were 3,000 cases made of the 2000 Cabernet-Malbec, which will be released in March 2002. The price has not yet been determined, but is estimated to be around $25 to $30. The new project aims to reach 30,000 cases annually within five years.
Check out recent ratings of Catena, Catena Alta and Alamos Ridge wines.
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