2018 Bodega Catena Zapata, Catena Alta Historic Rows Malbec, $54
Winery Info: This iconic Argentinean winery dates back to 1902 when Italian immigrant Nicola Catena planted his first Malbec vineyard in the Andean foothills of Mendoza.
Over the years, the family has meticulously researched the soils and microclimates of their extreme, high-elevation vineyard sites to find the ideal location for each of their proprietary clones (the “Catena Cuttings”). In 1994, Nicola’s grandson Nicolás began making the Catena Alta wines from the very best of those sites, and today is regarded as the man who revolutionized Argentine wine. Their Adrianna Vineyard, at almost 5,000 feet elevation, has been called the Grand Cru vineyard of South America.
Grapes: 100% Malbec, aged 18 months in French oak, plus two years in bottle.
Vineyards: Select lots from Angélica (3,018 feet), La Piramide (3,116 feet), Nicasia (3,592 feet), Adrianna (4,757 feet), and Angélica Sur (3,608 feet). Harvested at different times to attain optimal natural acidity and moderate alcohol levels.
Flavor Profile: This Malbec is blended from historic rows within their family estate vineyards to produce a highly aromatic and elegant wine. This one is smooth and supple, with a mix of red and black fruit and complex notes of savory spice and earth.
Availability: This wine is in decent supply at the moment.
Drinking Window: While you could enjoy it soon, it has the structure and complexity to continue to develop up to 2030.
Food Pairing: Grilled steak or lamb with chimichurri or Portobello mushroom burgers.
2020 Olivier Roten, Petite Arvine, AOC Valais, $41
Winery Info: The Valais, the largest wine region in Switzerland, is located mostly along the southeast-facing slopes of the upper Rhône River in the Swiss Alps. Caves du Paradis was established here in 1959 by Alex Roten. Today his grandson Olivier oversees the winery, with ten hectares of vineyards in some of the prime areas in the region. Olivier carries on his family’s tradition of preserving traditional grape varieties and ensuring that their wines reflect their unique alpine terroir. To this end, he practices sustainable farming and minimal intervention. Petite Arvine is an indigenous white grape found almost exclusively in the Valais (and, to a lesser extent, in Italy’s Valle d’Aosta).
Grapes: 100% Petite Arvine, aged six months in concrete tanks, with no malolactic fermentation.
Vineyard: Their vineyards in the AOC Valais, situated at 2,000 feet elevation with limestone sandy and rocky soils.
Flavor Profile: Considered the finest of the Valais varieties, Petite Arvine tends to produce fresh, aromatic wines, with bracing acidity, notes of grapefruit, and often a hint of salinity. This one is racy and delicate, yet elegant and complex, with lovely texture and subtle flavors of orchard fruit. Petite Arvine is not often found outside of the region and this one is a beautiful example.
Availability: There is still a bit of this wine left with the distributor.
Drinking Window: Enjoy anytime over the next two to three years.
Food Pairing: Perfect with any seafood, such as pan-fried white fish with lemon and capers, sushi, lobster, or shellfish. Or with local fare, such as raclette.