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September 8, 2013
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Sample top Argentine wines at vin48 in Avon on Tuesday

AVON — Alfredo Bartholomaus, of Bodega Catena Zapata, will pour four of the most sought-after Argentine wines at vin48 on Tuesday.

“We are thrilled to host Alfredo and the Catena Zapata winery at vin48,” said Greg Eynon, wine director and co-owner of vin48. “Our guests will be treated to the most iconic wines from the most storied winery in Argetina. Retailing at over $100 a bottle, this is the rare opportunity to taste these wines at a fraction of the cost.”

Charles Hays, vin48’s chef and co-owner, will pair the wines with Argetine-inspired appetizers in the restaurant’s loft above the wine bar.

Nicolas Catena took the reigns of the family vineyards and wineries in the mid 1960s; he concentrated on expanding distribution throughout Argentina during years of turmoil in the 1970s. But in the early 1980s, Catena left Argentina to become a visiting professor of economics at the University of California, at Berkeley. The political and economic situation in Argentina was difficult, with a military government that had just declared war on the United Kingdom and inflation rates of more than a thousand percent per year.

California, and especially Napa Valley, were an inspiration to Catena and his wife, Elena, who spent weekends visiting the area with their youngest daughter Adrianna in a backpack. Until that time, no one in the new world had dreamed of rivaling France.

Catena returned to Mendoza with a vision in mind. From one day to the other, he sold his table wine producing company, keeping only Bodegas Esmeralda, the fine wine branch of the family business. At that time, Argentina was perceived as a bulk wine producer and Catena was told by many of his colleagues in Argentina that he was “completamente loco” (completely crazy).

But Catena is not someone to be easily discouraged. During the 1980s, he set out to discover the best places to plant vineyards in Mendoza. When recently asked why he decided to plant Chardonnay and Malbec in Gualtallary, at almost 5,000 feet elevation, he answered, “I felt that the only way we would make a leap in quality would be by pushing the limits of vine cultivation, by taking risks.”

Ever since, the winery has flourished under that mentality. In 2001, Catena’s daughter, Laura, took over the research and development program at Bodega Catena Zapata. An emergency room physician with degrees from Harvard and Stanford, Laura Catenas brought a very strong science background to the family winery’s research and development project. She immediately set about working with the high altitude Malbec that her father had planted. She was sure this Argentine varietal, planted in these extreme microclimates, would yield something truly special.

Her determination to produce a world-class Malbec led her and the viticultural team to conduct an actual plant by plant selection of the top Malbec lots in the high altitude vineyards. These Zapata plants were managed and harvested separately to isolate their incredible potential.

In 2004, this program produced such extraordinary fruit that the winemakeing team decided to ferment the fruit directly in new oak barrels. The result were three spectacular new Malbecs, which showed the incredible quality of the family’s high altitude Malbec vineyards.


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The VailDaily Updated Sep 9, 2013 02:46PM Published Sep 9, 2013 01:35PM Copyright 2013 The VailDaily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.