Catena At Hide London – Tasting a Selection of the Catena Winery’s Top Offerings With Laura Catena…

It is always wonderful to catch up with Laura Catena in London to taste through her winery’s fantastic benchmark Argentinean wines. The UK remains one of the Catena’s strongest markets according to Laura, with sales growing both on the high quality end and also on the more affordable value end of the Catena brand range.

But certainly the wineries reputation has come a long way since Laura attended the 1995 Fine Wine Experience in the United States representing the first South American brand to be invited to show their wines at this prestigious tasting event.

Today, the wines remain some of the most respected Argentinean wine brands on the global market with their single vineyard Chardonnays and Malbecs true quality leaders. I joined Laura for another superb London tasting, this time at the excellent Michelin starred Hide restaurant in Piccadilly, where Ollie Dabbous matched courses for a stunning array of Catena wines.

The artistry of Ollie Dabbous at Hide.

White Flight:

Catena Adrianna Vineyard White Stones Vino de Parcela Chardonnay 2015, 13 Abv.

5000ft elevation of the Adriana Vineyard. Dusty lifted aromatic profile with unique notes of dried grass, spearmint, wet pebbles and crushed limestone underpinned by white grapefruit and citrus notes. The palate is lively and energetic packed full of picante lime cordial, freshly squeezed tangerine juice and sleek dry bitter lemon zest. Lovely mineral grip lingers on the long finish. Very grown up style with a real gout de Terroir. Give this wine time in bottle.

(Wine Safari Score: 94/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Catena Adrianna Vineyard White Bones Vino de Parcela Chardonnay 2015, 13 Abv.

5000ft elevation of the Adriana Vineyard. Similar to the White Stones Cuvee but with deeper, richer minerality of Wet chalk, limestone, cassis leaf, black currant reduction and subtle cut grass and crushed mint leaf complexity. Palate texture is full and round showing exceptional freshness but impressive gravitas and concentration while retaining its true Terroir feel and mineral restraint. The finish is exotic and long, teasing the palate with clementine pastilles, lemon cordial and orange peel zest. Very fine indeed.

(Wine Safari Score: 95+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Reds Flight:

Catena Alta Malbec 2015, 13.5 Abv.

Blend of 5 parcels from cuttings from the same parcels but grown on different souls. The nose is very culinary in style, full of dusty chocolate, mocha, cocoa, black currant, brûléed cedar spice and dusty crushed stones. Very Bordeaux’esque in an exotic kind of style, the palate is luxurious and sleek but also tantalisingly fresh, crunchy and pure fruited with a fine cedar and graphite mineral frame and a long, lush sappy finish of bramble berries, black berry confit and damson plum. Wonderful classism and restraint.

(Wine Safari Score: 95/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Nicolas Catena Zapata 2013, 13.5 Abv.

Beautifully precise fragrant nose brimming with the 70+ percent Cabernet Sauvignon notes of dried violets, tart black cherry, savoury wet tobacco, cassis and sappy spice. Very direct and pure fruited with a fine salinity that melts into fine mineral notes of graphite, black currant pastille and creamy, oak spice. Tannins are powdery and fine grained, the acidity bright and potent. A very polished, suave expression with real intensity. Still so very youthful at 5+ years old.

(Wine Safari Score: 96/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Catena Zapata Malbec Nicasia Vineyard La Consulta 2014, Mendoza, 14 Abv.

A beautifully fashioned hedonistic red with great subtlety, delicacy, violet perfume and red cherry and piquant wood spice intensity. All finely integrated and seamless, coating the palate with great lush intensity, creamy tannins, concentrated sappy sweet black and red berry fruits and fabulously juicy acidity. Such harmony and balance with a delicious coffee bean, cocoa and mocha finish. Dreamy and very pretty.

(Wine Safari Score: 97/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Catena Zapata Argentino Malbec 2013, Mendoza, 14 Abv.

Another big, intense, deliciously opulent expression with lifted layers of purple flowers, violets, cherry blossom and pithy crushed blueberries. Quite immediate and upfront, this wine is not only hedonistic, opulent and showy but ultra suave, finely textured, delicately mineral finishing with satin soft black berry confit and graphite spice. A very classy, distinguished expression that is a thoroughly seductive and profound picture of Malbec. Delicious.

(Wine Safari Score: 96+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Catena Zapata Argentino Malbec 2015, Mendoza, 14 Abv. (En Magnum)

A superbly opulent and expressive red that after one sniff leaves you in no doubt that this is another deliciously hedonistic expression. Nose bursts with a measured intensity of creamy brûléed black berry, black cherry pastille and a touch of blue berry crumble with a dusting of mocha choc spice. This vintage offers up extra layers of textured depth and richness with an opulent glycerol mouthfeel, sweet plump tannins and well integrated acids.

(Wine Safari Score: 97+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

The Catena wines are distributed by Bibendum / Walker Wodehouse in the UK market.

Argentinian Malbec Riding Global Demand – Tasting the Zuccardi Aluvional Series That’s Taking Malbec to New Quality Heights…

Zuccardi Wineries Aluvional Series is a selection of wines made from the best soils of alluvial origin in the Uco Valley, Mendoza. In developing the Zuccardi Aluvional Series, the winemaker wanted to highlight the uniqueness and authenticity of each terroir, in this case the Tupungato Alto terroir, using the Malbec grape.

The erosive force of the floods generated by melting glaciers and down water, ice and rock with brutal force, can be seen in the soils with rocks of great magnitude, rounded edges and heterogeneity. It is through these environmental hallmarks that these differences can become key pointers in dictating the style and origin of this type of true terroir driven Malbec.

Zuccardi Aluvional Gualta Tupungato Alto Malbec 2013, Uco Valley, Mendoza, 14.5 Abv.

Deep dense dark opaque colour, as black as a heavily overcast night in the Patagonian dessert. The nose is intricate and complex, teasing you with subtle notes of cedar wood spice, leafy plum skins, sappy black berries and brûléed coffee bean nuances. The palate is as bold and intense as the colour and nose suggest it will be, however, the tart, vibrantly fresh black berry acidity lift raises this wine up as if to make it walk on tip toes. Beautiful freshness, deliciously complex concentration, plenty of sappy, stalky spice and a long, coco powder dusted black berry finish. A very accomplished wine that will no doubt make a lot of friends among Malbec lovers! Drink now to 2028.

(Wine Safari Score: 95/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Attending the London Launch of Bodegas Noemia’s New Releases with Owner ~ Winemaker Hans Vinding-Diers…

I have been buying the impressively individual Patagonian Malbecs from Bodegas Noemia for several years. But unlike the swathes of other Argentinian Malbecs on the market, however well made and enjoyable to drink they may be, many lack that extra individuality, tension, freshness, finesse and complexity. These are all the characteristics that for me, typify the wines made by Hans Vinding-Diers.


Listening to Hans speak is such a privilege as he conveys so animatedly, his passion and determination to make the very best wines possible, very much in the same vein that other winemaking greats do such as Dirk Niepoort in Portugal or indeed his cousin, Peter Sisseck of Dominio de Pingus in Spain.


The new releases for Bodegas Noemia included the new, never before tasted, 2016 A Lisa in its new style Burgundy bottle, the J.Alberto Malbec 2015, and lastly the hotly anticipated Noemia 2015 old vine Malbec.


Bodegas Noemia A Lisa Malbec 2016, Patagonia, 13 Abv.

The new bottle shape seems to be in recognition that this wine is pulling in a different direction to most Malbecs. Pie Franco vines from selection massale, grown on sandy soils from multiple selected vineyards, yearns to be more Burgundy than Bordeaux. Still in a very youthful posture, the nose is rich and spicy with layers of cedar and sappy spice, stem ginger, clove and boxwood. In its Burgundian guise, the wine is impressively elegant and fragrant, showing violets, incense and waxy red berry fruit lift. The palate possess a wonderful, delineated texture, being formed of a 75% stainless steel portion and a 25% portion aged in 2nd, 3rd and 4th fill French oak barrels for 9 months. This new release is superbly suave, elegantly fleshy, and true to its feminine form. A great buy for the price point. 

(Wine Safari Score: 93/100 Greg Sherwood MW)


J.Alberto Malbec 2015, Patagonia, 13.5 Abv.

This stalwart of the range is a 95% Malbec and 5% Merlot blend from a 4 hectare vineyard that has been farmed organically and biodynamically since 2006. 30% was aged in cement tank and 70% in second fill French oak. Vines were planted in 1955 on gravel and clay, with alluvial riverbed soils. At 1.8 meters depth, the vines hit the slightly saline water table, anecdotally adding a slight salty twang to the musts. The 2015 is voluptuously rich, dark and broody with notes of incense, spice, bramble berry, cassis and sweet Victoria plum. There is such a dense texture, an opulent fleshy mocha tinged mulberry depth and a beautifully complex breadth. This is a seriously impressive wine with focus, balance and length. 

(Wine Safari Score: 95+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)


Bodegas Noemia 2015, Patagonia, 14.5 Abv.

I recently reviewed the amazing 2012 from Hans and the wine still lingers in the back of my mind. Again, this is another 100% Malbec from the designated 1.5 hectare old vine Malbec vineyard planted in 1932. Cropped at only 30 hectolitres per hectare, this premium wine displays a rich, intense broody nose of black plum, cassis, and strawberry confit, with a really dense core and intensity. The nose draws you in and holds you transfixed. 33% new French oak in 600 litre barrels is used making the palate seamless, harmonious and creamy but also with such impressive balance and finesse. The wine has a start but no defined finish, with complex, opulent flavours that just linger on, and on, and on! Such subtlety, this wine really shows a happy vineyard made by a happy winemaker. A real beauty. (Bottled December 2016)

(Wine Safari Score: 97+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Argentina Coming of Age ~ Tasting Bodegas Noemia 2012 from Patagonia… 

There is obviously a rich vein of South African wine content reviewed regularly on this blog. But even when I try and divert my stare, some kind of South African connection seems to find a way of sneaking into my non-SA wine reviews. Bodegas Noemia’s Hans Vinding-Diers is a South African born Dane who’s father Peter produced some epic wines at Rustenberg in the 1970s. Indeed, Hans was born on the Rustenberg estate in Stellenbosch. To complete the triangle, Hans is the cousin of renowned Danish winemaker Peter Sisseck.


Having made wine all over the world, Bordeaux trained Hans now plies his trade in the Rio Negro Valley 998km south of Buenos Aires in the middle of a desert. In this barren region, viticulture is only made possible by channel irrigation excavated in the 1820s by British colonists. The Andes snow-melt fed rivers of Neuquen and Limay supply the water for a growing season that varies in temperature between 28 and 9 degrees C.

After initially consulting for a local Patagonian winery, a two year search yielded the 1.5 hectare Mainque Vineyard of ancient and abandoned mostly Malbec vines planted in the 1930s and 1950s. In partnership with Countess Noemi Marone Cinzano, Bodegas Noemia produces three wines from fruit certified biodynamic since 2008. The range consists of Bodegas Noemia A Lisa, the J.Alberto and the flagship Noemia.


Bodegas Noemia Malbec 2012, Patagonia

Combining concentration and elegance, this wine is produced from 100% Malbec from 74 year old vines, which are aged for 18 months in new French oak. The 2012 has a deep purple black colour still and a nose of opulent floral savoury sappy black fruits, botanical herbs, burnt sugar, sweet plums, and strawberry confit. A real concentration of sweet berry fruits balanced by a bold, pronounced crisp acidity. There is beautiful complexity of sweet cherry, savoury cured meats, black berries, blood oranges and cognac spice. A powerful wine with precise refined tannins, fine freshness and an underlying mineral backbone on a very long finish. So characterful, slightly extrovert, but classically opulent. A masterclass in Malbec. 

(Wine Safari Score: 97/100 Greg Sherwood MW)