Malbec Moves Ahead: A Live Chat with Laura Catena

Bodega Catena Zapata’s managing director discusses harvest under lockdown in Argentina, Malbec’s growing demand, and the grape’s next big hurdle

Malbec Moves Ahead: A Live Chat with Laura Catena
Bodega Catena Zapata managing director Laura Catena (Rick Wenner)
Jun 25, 2020

“When I decided to become a doctor, my father was not that happy,” said Laura Catena. “My mother said, ‘You know, Laurita, he’d always thought you would come work with him ….’” The physician, author, mother and fourth-generation winemaker and managing director at Argentina’s Bodega Catena Zapata recalled her impressive journey in the June 23 edition of Straight Talk with Wine Spectator, an Instagram Live series sponsored by Wine Access.

Speaking with senior editor James Molesworth from her San Francisco home, Catena discussed the difficulties of harvest during the coronavirus pandemic and how the market for Argentine Malbec has changed and will continue to evolve.

In March, Catena was faced with the daunting task of ensuring the safety of essential winery employees in the face of the pandemic. Luckily, harvest arrived early this year, and by the time safety measures were being instituted, only 20 percent of the crop remained to be picked. Catena’s familiarity with the transmission of viruses helped her as well. “We’ve actually been presented as the model winery by many organizations for dealing with protecting their employees,” she said.

Argentina has maintained some of the strictest lockdown measures in the world, comparable to those of Italy. But Argentina’s government relies heavily on exports for its economic health, so officials have worked hard to facilitate shipping, and increased retail sales have helped offset the revenue lost to closed restaurants.

“Malbec is on fire,” Catena said of sales for the country’s premier red grape. “Argentine wine is selling really well.” But there’s still room to grow, and Catena believes the next challenge will be gaining the attention of high-end wine collectors. “I think the true next hurdle is that every collector in the world has an Argentina section [in their cellar],” Catena said, citing a track record for wines that age well as the key to achieving a place on the world’s stage of collectible wines.

Watch the full episode with Catena on Wine Spectator's' IGTV channel, and tune in to @wine_spectator on Instagram to catch Straight Talk with Wine Spectator, Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7 p.m. ET.

More Straight Talk

See More

Bordeaux Looks to the Future: A Live Chat with Château Lynch Bages’ Jean-Charles Cazes

Jun 22, 2020

From Tour Dates to Grape Crates: A Live Chat with Musical Artist and Vintner P!nk

Jun 12, 2020

Vintner on the Move: A Live Chat with Joe Wagner

Jun 9, 2020

Andy Beckstoffer: An Eye to the Past and the Future of Napa Valley

May 29, 2020

Live from Lockdown with Danny Meyer

May 19, 2020

News Straight Talk Malbec Argentina

You Might Also Like

As Spain Reopens, Its Wineries Forge Ahead

As Spain Reopens, Its Wineries Forge Ahead

The pandemic hit the nation hard, and vintners know reopening will be slow. They're trying …

Jul 6, 2020
Charlie Palmer’s Aureole Pivots to To-Go, Plans Next New York Home

Charlie Palmer’s Aureole Pivots to To-Go, Plans Next New York Home

The landmark restaurant might return to the Upper East Side in 2021. Plus, the team behind …

Jul 2, 2020
French Wine Firm EPI Buys Majority Stake in Michael Mondavi's Folio

French Wine Firm EPI Buys Majority Stake in Michael Mondavi's Folio

The luxury goods firm, which owns Piper-Heidsieck, Charles Heidsieck and Biondi-Santi, …

Jul 1, 2020
From Napa to Burgundy: A Live Chat with Diana Snowden Seysses

From Napa to Burgundy: A Live Chat with Diana Snowden Seysses

The Snowden Vineyards and Domaine Dujac winemaker discusses her Napa roots, emmigrating to …

Jul 1, 2020
Dry Skies Ahead

Dry Skies Ahead

Some major U.S. airlines have restricted alcohol service during the COVID-19 pandemic, but …

Jul 1, 2020
Constellation Brands Buys Gary Vaynerchuk's Empathy Wines

Constellation Brands Buys Gary Vaynerchuk's Empathy Wines

The wine and spirits giant is looking to the $20 brand, sold entirely through e-commerce, …

Jul 1, 2020