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Senior editor Dana Nigro joined Wine Spectator in 1998. She is managing editor of WineSpectator.com.
Dana Nigro

A Malbec to Mark an Important Moment

Bodega Catena Zapata Malbec Mendoza 2009

Dana Nigro
Posted: July 27, 2012

My personal life has been undergoing a bit of a wine drought lately. My husband and I recently purchased our first home and, while we fully intended to celebrate with a great bottle of Champagne, he had to rush off to work right after the closing. The surrounding flurry of activity—acquiring the mortgage, packing up our apartment of more than a decade (who realized our closets held that much?), the actual move (dragged out over two weeks) and the searching for essentials among all the boxes—hasn't exactly left us with time for the leisurely summer meals we envisioned enjoying with a bottle of wine on our deck.

But finally, the kitchen was mostly unpacked, groceries were purchased and we didn't absolutely have to do anything else after dinner. So I rummaged through the boxes of wine stashed in our cellar-to-be and pulled out the first likely prospect to go with the recipe for beef in a hoisin-based sauce that I was trying out: the Catena Malbec from Argentina's Mendoza region. Usually an outstanding bottling, the Malbec earned a spot on Wine Spectator's Top 100 of 2011 with its 2009 vintage, so I knew we were in for a treat. But I was a bit surprised at how successful the spontaneous match was.

Full of rich, dark fruit—blackberry, boysenberry, Mission figs and black plums—the Malbec had a supple texture and a core of minerality and vibrant acidity that led into the lingering finish, where smoky, savory herb, pepper and baking spice notes came out. On its own, the finish was more pure fruit-driven and the tannins more prominent, but with the food, the red’s complex nuances, such as hints of fine pipe tobacco, became more distinct. I gave it 91 points, non-blind, and it cost just under $25 when I bought it. A nice way to end a dry spell.

WineSpectator.com members: Read the original blind-tasting review for Bodega Catena Zapata Malbec Mendoza 2009 (91 points, $24, Top 100 of 2011—No. 58).

• Plus, get scores and tasting notes for more recently rated Malbecs from Argentina.

Warren Sutherland
Vancouver BC Canada —  July 27, 2012 7:58pm ET
Agree 100% with Nigro re the 2009 Catena Malbec. I found it in a restaurant in Whistler BC and now have several bottles resting at home.
Warren Sutherland
Vancouver BC Canada —  July 27, 2012 8:10pm ET
i have to object to the incomplete list of Canadian Restaurants in 'The List'. Whomever made up the list is from Eastern Canada; there is not one restaurant west of Winnpeg Manitoba and Winnipeg is in the middle of the country.
Vanouver BC is a'Foodie' destination. Canada's only Iron Chef is in Vancouver. In the 'Top Chef' contest on HGTV the winner is from Vancouver.

Somebody should make it out here -soon, and enjoy our restaurant scene. Try Umbertos, Hawksworth, John Bishop, Pastis, Ciopino's and the list does not stop.
Alejandro Vigil
Argentina —  July 30, 2012 8:44am ET
Dear Dana,

It was a great honor for me and my team to read your arcticle, it was truly rewarding and gratifying!

Thank you very mcuh and I hope you can also try El Enemigo, I am sure you will enjoy it too!

Kind regards!

Alejandro Vigil
Catena Zapata
Dana Nigro
New York, NY —  July 30, 2012 11:31am ET
Hi Alejandro,

Thanks for your note. It's always a pleasure to enjoy a wine into which a lot of care and hard work has gone.

I'll keep my eyes out for the El Enemigo at my local retailers; I haven't tried that bottling yet.

Fred Brown
Maryland —  August 7, 2012 8:22pm ET
I happen to be sitting here sipping the '09 Catena, and couldn't agree more.

Too bad the Catena Alta Malbec's price has gone up and quality down in recent vintages (compared to the mid-2000's).

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