The story of Bodega Catena Zapata is a tale that travels from 19th-century Italy to the limestone soils of Mendoza. Nicola Catena, Nicolas Catena Zapata’s grandfather, sailed from Italy to Argentina in 1898, leaving behind his famine-stricken European homeland for a land of plenty and opportunity.
In 1902, he planted his first Malbec vineyard in Mendoza. Although Malbec had been a blending grape in Bordeaux, Nicola suspected it would find its hidden splendour in the Argentine Andes. It was a hunch that would not fully flower till nearly a century later.
Nowadays, it’s impossible to talk about Argentinean wine for more than a few minutes without someone mentioning either Nicolas Catena or one of his wines. No-one has done more to put Mendoza on the map, or to raise the profile of Malbec from Bordeaux reject to one of the world’s most fashionable grape varieties.
His journey to the top hasn’t been easy, however, and plenty of people were sceptical when Nicolas started planting Malbec at ever higher altitudes in the Andes. Eventually the results of his experiments spoke for themselves and others quickly followed in his footsteps. The family’s commitment to research and development continues apace with Nicolas’ daughter, Laura, now at the helm.
Laura, a biologist who graduated with honours from Harvard University, decided to instil in the winery team the method of research and study, what she calls “the science of understanding nature”. They created the Catena Institute of Wine, enabling the team to conduct research aimed at getting a better understanding of the Argentine terroir, the characteristics of Mendoza, and to study every aspect of their vineyards with the ultimate goal of making Argentine wines that can stand with the best of the world.