I don’t drink a massive amount of Argentinian wine, but when I do, I make sure it’s only the good stuff. There are a handful of producers I really admire, like Achaval Ferrer, Luigi Bosca, Zuccardi, and of course, Catena Zapata.
It’s been quite a few years since I had lunch with Laura Catena in London, so it was a lovely treat to sit beside her at a fabulous masterclass at the Hawksmoor Restaurant in the city today, featuring wines specifically from the Adrianna Vineyard.
Laura arrived slightly late after presenting an impressive vertical of Adrianna Vineyard Malbecs from 1999 to 2010, to Sarah Kemp and Stephen Spurrier at Decanter Magazine. Sadly we did not get to taste the same vertical but we did have the most amazing Masterclass from Laura featuring both whites and reds from the Adrianna Vineyard, which were planted by her father, Nicolas Catena, back in 1992.
The Adrianna Vineyard is a beautiful property in the Uco Valley, Mendoza, perched just below the snow capped peaks of the Andes, which supply glacial melt irrigation to many of the vineyards when required. There are 75 hectares planted at 1450m altitude, of which Laura considers roughly 10 hectares to be of “Grand Cru” quality, with the remaining vineyards also yielding very impressive high altitude fruit quality.
First up was a pair of Chardonnay whites. The first, the Adrianna White Bones Chardonnay 2014 at 13 Abv, 8.7 TA, 3.10 pH, grown on alluvial and calcareous soils, was a very taught, linear and angular expression, with searing acidity, and a refined, saline crunchy green passion fruit freshness on the finish (93+/100).
It was paired with another high altitude Chardonnay with a totally different expression despite being from vineyards 100m away. The White Stones Chardonnay 2014 from a 2.5 hectare plot grown on alluvial riverbed stoney soils, at a low 12.8 Abv, 8.7 TA, 3.03 pH. This expression is fresh and vibrant but fuller, richer, riper, more opulent despite its lower alcohol and lower pH! Beautiful layers of rocky mineral fruits, dried herbs, oregano, thyme and mixed baking spices. Palate is tension packed, with cantaloupe melon, lemon and lime cordial, orange peel zest and a fuller, weightier textured body. But certainly mouth watering, fresh and intense with a very long finish. Wow! (94+/100)
Then on to the fabulous reds, starting with a 5 hectare plot called Fortuna Terrae Malbec 2012 at 1,366m altitude, 14.10 Abv, 6.8 TA, 3.58 pH, grown on alluvial and deep loam soils. Beautifully dusty nose of dark berry fruits, sap and plummy spice, that’s soft, plush, smooth textured, and harmonious with crunchy bright red fruits, tannins that are powdery and fine with a soft acidity, rounded mid-palate intensity and a long elegant finish. (94+/100)
Next in the red trilogy was the Adrianna River Stones Malbec 2012 from a 2.6 hectare vineyard at 14.10 Abv, 6.5 TA, 3.6pH. Fermented with wild yeasts, there is a textured depth to this wine with layers of black berry fruit cake, black plum and exuberant black current notes, with fleshy weight and ultra fine tannins, and a sweet, exotic, red plum and bramble berry fruit finish. (94+/100)
Finally, a block buster… the Mundus Bacillus Terrae Malbec 2011 from a premium 1.4 hectare plot at 1,390m altitude, grown on alluvial soils, at 14.5 Abv, 7.3 TA, 3.55pH. This is a super rich, dark black berried, exotic, savoury, wine with a nose of sweet black plum, pepper spice, graphite and sweet savoury tannins. Plenty of intensity, power and elegance make a beautiful, noble wine worthy of 10+ years cellaring before cracking! (96/100)
Two final pairs included a Catena Alta Chardonnay 2014 (93/100); Catena Alta Malbec 2013 (92+/100); and Catena Alta Malbec 2006 (93+/100) and Catena Zapata Malbec 2006 (96/100), all suitable accompaniments to a lovely red meat lunch.
Venue: Hawksmoor Restaurant, 10 Basinghall Street, London, EC2V 5 BQ