Friday, October 30, 2009

Catena Chardonnay 2007

Argentina never ceases to amaze me when it comes to wine. The results that they get with Malbec at high elevations have been phenomenal for quite some time now, and now I’m starting to see some interesting things happen with Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah in higher elevation vineyards. What I never expected was to see Chardonnay grown at elevations as high as 5000’ with good results. I guess that I should never underestimate Argentina and in particular I should never underestimate the winemakers at Bodega Catena Zapata.

Starting in 1902 when Nicola Catena came to Argentina from Italy, the Catena family has been making wines in Argentina for over a century now. For most of that time, they were making bulk wine for domestic consumption in Argentina, and for many of those years they struggled to survive as a winery. In the 1980’s Nicola’s grandson, Nicolas spent time as a visiting professor at UC Berkeley with many visits to nearby Napa Valley. In Napa, he was surprised to see that there were places in the New World that had the kind of terroir to make truly great wines. He returned to Argentina as an inspired man who immediately sold off their bulk wine business to focus on making great wine in the foothills of the Andes, and in my humble opinion he has had outstanding success with Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon.

This offering from Catena is a Chardonnay that is grown in two different high altitude vineyards in the Mendoza region. The Lujan de Cuyo vineyard is at an elevation of 3100’ and the Tupungato vineyard is all the way up at 5000’. I did not have high expectation for Chardonnay grown at these high altitudes, but perhaps I just had the wrong attitude. This Chardonnay is very impressive.

Pale straw in color, the Catena Chardonnay 2007 brings aromas of apple and a little pear along with some subtle oak. In your mouth you also get apple and pear, but in this case it is the pear that dominates. In addition to the pear and apple, you also get a hint of peach on the palate. I love the fruit flavors in this wine. The oak is very well done without being overdone, and the wine has a medium-full bodied mouthfeel with very nice acidity and a great finish. Overall, this is a very nicely structured Chardonnay. It has a little something for everyone to like. Fruit, oak, body, acidity, and a nice finish all work beautifully together

With a retail price of $14.99, the Catena Chardonnay 2007 is a steal. At this price you’ll be hard pressed to find a better Chardonnay. This is a food friendly and versatile wine that you can enjoy with fish, shellfish, or chicken. We had it with sautéed chicken breasts in a parsley tarragon gremolata and they paired together beautifully. Enjoy!

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