The 2013 harvest is characterized by optimal fruit set and normal yields. Overall cooler climate and cooler nights give us wines with bright acidity and aromatics, and the velvety tannins that come from a longer hang-time. Although these wines will have the necessary acidity and tannins to age, it might be hard for many to refrain from their immediate appeal.Prepared by Dr. Laura Catena, Chief Winemaker Alejandro Vigil and Viticulturist Luis Reginato
After three years of low yields, 2013 brought us an average crop size. The Mendoza growers are pleased. Temperatures were generally cooler throughout summer and especially in early Autumn, leading to unusually high natural acidity (lower pH's) and relatively low sugar/alcohol levels - the perfect balance. Nights were cooler than average and harvest happened between 7 and 10 days later than usual, giving us bright aromatics in addition to the hang-time related velvetiness in the tannins.
We've been concerned over the lower than average amount of snow in the Andes and in the underground aquifers over the last two years. Although this season, there was more snow than last, we wonder if this is related to climate change.
The Catena Institute of Wine (our research branch) is preparing a multidisciplinary task force to address this topic with other wineries in Mendoza. Fortunately there were additional rains in spring which helped combat the dryness and gave us nice canopies and an optimal fruit set. Increased rain is also part of the climate change gurus' predictions.
Our La Pirámide Vineyard in Agrelo, Luján de Cuyo, was affected by hail - the third time in the last decade - and we are hoping that this is not a new pattern. We usually expect only one hail storm per decade on average. Yet again, we are grateful for hail netting.
Adrianna is another jewel. As this vineyard enters its third decade, and we understand each row and each plant better, we marvel at the diversity of flavors and elegance of the fruit coming from this vineyard. It is hard to believe that thirty years ago no one thought that Malbec would ripen at 5,000 feet elevation. In Adrianna, which most years classifies as Zone I Winkler (Burgundy temperatures) we see the combined effect of altitude and sunlight. Because of the high altitude sunlight, we are able to ripen varieties such as Malbec and Cabernet, which wouldn't normally ripen in such a cool climate.ANGÉLICA VINEYARD: Malbec - Lunlunta, Maipú, Mendoza, 3018 ft elevation
The yields in this very old vineyard (planted circa 1930) were slightly lower than last year's. This vineyard, because of its age and low-frost, low-hail location, does not vary significantly from year to year. As always, the block 18 Malbec is superb.LA PIRÁMIDE VINEYARD: Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec - Agrelo, Luján de Cuyo, Mendoza, 3117 ft elevation
Temperatures at La Pirámide Vineyard in Agrelo were cooler than last year. The hail-netted Old Vine Cabernet Sauvignon that goes into the Nicolás Catena Zapata was in perfect condition and with an optimal harmony between acidity and sugar - we can see the balancing effect of the clay soils in the texture and seamlessness of this wine.
The Domingo Vineyard, planted in the early 90's, has reached a time in its life where balance is achieved naturally and seamlessly. The bright acidity that characterizes this vintage accentuates the cool climate characteristics of the Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay in this vineyard.NICASIA VINEYARD: Malbec - Altamira, Uco Valley, Mendoza, 3593 ft elevation
The Nicasia Vineyard, located in Altamira in La Consulta is one of the Jewels of the Catena Zapata family. There was no hail or frost this year. The grapes had the usual perfect balance between acidity and sugar, and the velvetiness that characterizes the tannins of the Nicasia Malbecs.ANGÉLICA SUR VINEYARD: Malbec and Cabernet Franc - El Cepillo, Uco Valley, Mendoza, 3567 ft elevation
Located in the southernmost part of the Uco Valley in El Cepillo, the Angelica Sur vineyard is a jewel in the making. This vineyard is a great example of the influence of terroir. It is planted with the Catena Cuttings, Catena's proprietary plant selection of Malbec, yet the wines are completely different, more tannic, all black fruit with not a hint of jamminess. One of the main difficulties with this vineyard is the frequency of frosts, which fortunately did not affect us this year.