Nicolas Catena Zapata 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina


Bodega Catena Zapata from the Mendoza Region of Argentina is one of the earliest to market Argentinian wines in the premium price category on a world wide basis. They market Malbec, Chardonnays, Syrahs and blends. Like many other new world wine producers, they run up against a wall of low expectations from consumers. These low expectations are often undeserved given that wine is after all, just grape juice preserved via fermentation. That having been said, even wine neophytes understand the concept that, “Results May Vary.” Bodega founder and owner Nicolas Catena has released his top of the line 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon Malbec, and christened it the “Nicolas Catena Zapeta.” By putting his name on the bottle, he is telling the world that this is his wine, and that to a certain extent that he is this wine. I loved the colouring, it was a warm garnet. And if you have ever smelled a real Cuban cigar, you would pick up that smell in the strong tobacco nose. Sounds great, right?

Well, this is where personal taste comes in. In premium wine, you need to distinguish your product from the fray – else you compete on price. Alternately, be so damned good at what you do that the details push your product over the top. Nicolas Catena Zapeta does distinguish itself from other Argentinian wines with very ripe grapes. I found this 2005 to be over ripe, but that is based on my preferences. Other writers have gushed over this wine, but I found myself comparing it to my awkward appreciation acoustic rock nice guy Dave Matthews from the Dave Matthews band. People whose musical opinions I revere, love his jazz influenced / folk / pop music. He performed his song “You and Me” at the 2010 Grammy awards, with a very large choir and symphony behind him to wide acclaim. I am certain each one of his musicians is a virtuoso, but I completely failed to connect with the song. Part of my Dave Matthews complex is based on high expectations. He has a fine voice, his backing band clearly have their chops down and he comes across as being a genuine artist. As I mentioned before, he is a favourite of music critics, and a cherished troubadour for armies of devoted, intelligent music fans. Perhaps if I became familiar with his music before I heard all the gushing reviews, I would be cured of my complex. (What I am really saying is, if you are reading this Dave, its not you its me, sorry it didn’t work out.)

As far as the 85$ Nicolas Catena Zapeta goes, I can not judge without using my lens of high expectations. I would have loved to have tried this wine if it had been harvested perhaps a couple of weeks earlier. Like the Dave Matthews Band, I found the end result of this wine to be less than sum of all its parts.

Let me know what wine you would match with this music.

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