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All In The Name Of Research...

There comes a time when a Sommelier has to leave the comfort of his wine cellar to travel to different places that happen to produce wine. All in the pursuit of more knowledge regarding the fantastic world of wine making.

That it also, more often than not, involves a generous amount of tasting, is never something a Sommelier can decline. Let's call it quality control!

This week I am walking the Vineyard of Catena Zapata in Mendoza, Argentina. Nicolas Catena is regarded as a visionary in Mendoza in the way he changed the wine production in the late 1990s. After having studied the Californian wine boom, Nicolas Catena started to plant grapes in new areas and changed the vinification to produce fresh fruit flavours. The Catena Zapata Estiva Reservada is now a collector’s wine.

Catena wanted his wine to rival the great wine of France, so he needed to mirror the French obsession with quality and terroir. Here a new chapter in wine making was born. High altitude wine! Many thought Nicolas Catena was slightly nuts, but he proved that at high altitude you could produce a soft and velvety Malbec, still with wonderful complexity and intense floral and fruit flavours.

High altitude vineyards are now established in Mendoza and also in neighbouring Chile. 

I feel very humbled to have been invited to attend The Southern Hemisphere Wine Diploma at Catena Zapata’s Vineyard. We will do everything from soil sampling and tending to the vines, to Malbec blending, and of course, the odd tasting of wonderful wines.