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Catena chief winemaker calls 2019 vintage “one of the best in 10 years”

Published:  21 April, 2020

The chief winemaker at Argentina’s Bodega Catena Zapata has called 2019 “one of the best vintages of the last 10 years”.

The vintage had been characterised by “perfectly healthy grapes”, with harvest dates crucial in obtaining “such quality of grapes, considering the particular weather conditions of this season”, said chief winemaker Alejandro Vigil in Cantena’s 2019/20 harvest report released today.  

“We have thus obtained wines of great concentration and colour, and of splendid acidity. We also predict an extraordinary ageing potential,” reads the report, which has been prepared by Vigil, viticulturist Luis Reginato  and Dr Laura Catena.   

The report said the summer of 2019 had started with warmer than usual temperatures and then cooled off in February, with decreased snow in the winter months resulting in water shortages which led to overall yields being down 20-30%. 

“The 2019-2020 harvest season was extremely dry. Rainfall was between 40% and 70% lower than the historical average depending on the region, while river flows were between 40% and 60% lower than the historical average and 11% lower compared to the 2019 harvest season.” 

The lack of summer rains had resulted in “perfectly healthy grapes”.

The producer had feared that harvest would have to stop with some of its best grapes still on the vine following the Argentine government declaring an obligatory quarantine on 19 March.  

However, late in the day, an order exempting wine as an essential food product came through, allowing it to continue harvesting through the first week of April. 

“Winemakers can't remember an earlier harvest year. The cool climate areas at extreme high altitude in the Uco Valley are yielding beautifully concentrated wines with intense aromatics, optimal texture and structure, and high acidity (healthy levels of malic acid).”

Founded in 1902, Catena is known for its pioneering role in resurrecting Malbec and in discovering extreme high altitude terroirs in the Andean foothills of Mendoza, with the family’s Adrianna Vineyard at almost 5,000 feet elevation has been called the Grand Cru of South America.

With harvest just completed, Wines of Argentina is currently gathering information for all the regions.