"The 2009 Harvest will be hard to forget. It was scary at the beginning because of the December rains - for a moment there we thought that the El Niño rains of 1998 were back. But by the middle of January we started to relax a little (never completely of course). The weather stayed dry from the end of December through May, with moderate temperatures, almost no rains, sunny and breezy at night. The key to this vintage was judicious irrigation management. Drip irrigated vineyards had a definite advantage. We had the opportunity to stress each and every vine just the right amount. The average harvest date was about 10 days earlier than usual, and the sanitary conditions, aromas, tannin development, especially in the reds, were absolutely perfect. I just tasted through our Malbecs in early May, and I initially thought that several of the Catena tanks were Catena Alta quality. There is abundance of everything this year: aromas, concentration, length, natural acidity."Laura Catena, Managing Director, Bodega Catena Zapata
"2009 is my best harvest at Catena Zapata since I started working here."Alejandro Vigil, Winemaking Director, Bodega Catena Zapata
In most regions there was about 25% more rain than usual (5 to 50mm more) in the late spring/early summer and these rains had a natural cooling effect in the months of November and December. Towards the end of December it stopped raining in most regions. Veraison started a bit earlier than usual, and the canopy was well developed early in the harvest season because of the rains. It stopped raining just at the right time for red varietals and very high altitude chardonnay to experience the necessary amount of stress.
We did a great deal of Scholander pump water measurements this year because in the dry conditions of Jan-May it was essential to stress the plants judiciously. Most lots were harvested between 7 and 10 days prior to the usual date. Because of the ideal weather conditions of February, March, April and May, we were able to harvest all our vineyards at 4 different times, a method that we find helpful as a way to intensify each aspect of the vineyard's terroir: aromatics (early harvest), fine tannins and mid palate (mid harvest), concentration of tannins-polymerization (late harvest.)
It was nice to avoid the hail here this year (after 2 years in a row.) The old vine Cabernet Sauvignon from the Mendoza massal selection population was extraordinary, very balanced with intense black fruit aromas and very smooth mouthfeel. The clonal and population Malbecs (what we call the Catena cuttings) were perfectly ripe and tasty, a good year overall for this vineyard.ANGÉLICA VINEYARD - Lunlunta, Maipú, Mendoza, 3018 ft elevation
The conditions in Maipu were very different from those in the Uco Valley. Due to the January heat, this area was actually harvested a bit later than usual (2 wks), because the plants were stressed and not getting their due rest at night (warmer nights). Lot 18, located right by the river bank, had naturally lower yields and smaller berries than usual = nice concentration. Lot 20 was harvested in three phases and gave us the nice marmalade and slightly over-ripe aromas and flavors that add a special touch to the Catena Alta Malbec blend.ANGÉLICA SOUTH VINEYARD - San Carlos - 3,700 ft elevation
We are very excited about this vineyard which was in the "middle of nowhere" when we first planted it. Laura had been buying the grapes from one of the few old vineyards in the area - Basso - since 1999 and the quality was so good that we decided to buy land in the area. The Malbec was harvested 2 weeks earlier than usual, with deep black fruits, fresh natural acidity and just everything that a cool climate Malbec should have - no overripe features.
Promising for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir (Dijon Clones). Laura will use some of this Pinot Noir for the Luca Pinot.ADRIANNA VINEYARD - Gualtallary, Tupungato, Uco Valley, Mendoza, 4757 ft elevation
This vineyard saw a somewhat different weather pattern than the rest of the Uco Valley because it rained more here in February. It stopped raining towards the end of February, and after that it was clear and sunny. The canopies were big so there was lots of photosynthesis going on. We harvested most of the Malbec towards the end of April when it had been completely dry for 2 months. The Malbec has the typical floral notes that we get from this vineyard with perfect balance between sugars, acidity and tannins. We expect the wines to be intensely concentrated and velvety at the same time.NICASIA VINEYARD - Altamira, Uco Valley, Mendoza, 3593 ft elevation
This vineyard was harvested a few weeks earlier than usual; we harvested most of it in March. Perfect natural acidity - no correction needed - intense black fruit; very, very dark and concentrated with no hard edges on the tannins, ultra rich, ultra silky. Alejandro Vigil was also very surprised and excited by the quality of the Cabernet Sauvignon in this vineyard, he says, "This was a great year for this variety that has such great potential in this region." There were no vegetal notes in the Cabernet Sauvignon that was deeply colored, rich in tannins and of perfect ripeness with no over-ripe features (Alejandro particularly dislikes over-ripeness in cabernet sauvignon.)