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

Amar'e Stoudemire Chats Live on Building His Wine Legacy

Oct 1, 2021

Barbara Banke Speaks Out on a Sustainable Wine Industry

Sep 8, 2021

Always Aiming High: DLynn Proctor Chats Live on His Storied Career

Aug 30, 2021

The Show Reopens: Danny Meyer Chats Live on Bringing New York Restaurants Back

Jun 14, 2021

Finding Home Again: Kyle MacLachlan Chats Live About Making Wine Where He Grew Up

Apr 30, 2021

News Straight Talk Malbec Argentina

You Might Also Like

Turning Tables: Caterina’s by Tim Love Brings Old-School Italian Fare to Cowtown

Turning Tables: Caterina’s by Tim Love Brings Old-School Italian Fare to Cowtown

Acclaimed Fort Worth chef’s new outpost puts classic wines—and good manners—at center …

Sep 22, 2022
Wine Industry Iconoclast Fred Franzia Dies at 79

Wine Industry Iconoclast Fred Franzia Dies at 79

The co-founder of Bronco Wine Company was known for launching "Two Buck Chuck" and for his …

Sep 13, 2022
Wine as Liquid Asset: Do Wine Investment Funds Deliver?

Wine as Liquid Asset: Do Wine Investment Funds Deliver?

Investment funds in wine are increasingly popular in the U.S., but do they offer safe …

Sep 13, 2022
Washington Winemaker Ross Andrew Mickel Dies at 47

Washington Winemaker Ross Andrew Mickel Dies at 47

The young vintner, who went from sommelier to boutique winery owner, was lost in a seaplane …

Sep 9, 2022
Jean-Georges to Open a Restaurant in New Midtown Manhattan Tower

Jean-Georges to Open a Restaurant in New Midtown Manhattan Tower

Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten is expanding to 425 Park Avenue next year, two Momofuku Ko …

Sep 8, 2022
Ste. Michelle Wine Estates Goes Big in Oregon

Ste. Michelle Wine Estates Goes Big in Oregon

Washington wine giant acquires A to Z Wineworks and Rex Hill, making it the dominant player …

Sep 7, 2022