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

Major Food Group Debuts Dirty French Steakhouse in Miami; Daniel Boulud Opens Le Gratin in New York

Major Food Group Debuts Dirty French Steakhouse in Miami; Daniel Boulud Opens Le Gratin in New York

The team of Mario Carbone, Rich Torrisi and Jeff Zalaznick are expanding their presence in …

May 19, 2022
Prince Robert de Luxembourg Auctions Wines Straight from Haut-Brion's Cellars for a Cause Close to Home

Prince Robert de Luxembourg Auctions Wines Straight from Haut-Brion's Cellars for a Cause Close to Home

The Sotheby's sale of rare collectibles—Haut-Brion, La Mission Haut-Brion and other top …

May 18, 2022
Destin Charity Wine Auction Raises $3.8 Million for Children in Need

Destin Charity Wine Auction Raises $3.8 Million for Children in Need

The northwest Florida event has become one of the country's largest, supporting 16 …

May 11, 2022
Instagram Live Chats: View Wine Spectator's Upcoming Schedule

Instagram Live Chats: View Wine Spectator's Upcoming Schedule

Our next two episodes feature American music trio and founders of Gaslighter Wine Co. The …

May 19, 2022
Sommelier Caleb Ganzer Reaches Agreement with District Attorney on Arson Charges

Sommelier Caleb Ganzer Reaches Agreement with District Attorney on Arson Charges

Accused of torching two outdoor dining sheds in 2021, the sommelier will pay restitution to …

May 9, 2022
Exclusive: Northern Rhône's E. Guigal Expands in the South, Buying Tavel's Château d'Aquéria

Exclusive: Northern Rhône's E. Guigal Expands in the South, Buying Tavel's Château d'Aquéria

Philippe Guigal believes there is great potential for Tavel's deeply colored rosés

May 6, 2022