Medium purple color; plum, boysenberry, tobacco leaf on the nose; plum, dark cherry, boysenberry, raspberry, some blackberry, chocolate on the palate.
Dry; medium-full body; relaxed tannins; some acidity; balsamic notes on the mid-plate; somewhat short finish, which is standard for malbec. The short finish means it pair better with leaner meats. Although the website does not reveal percentages, there are splashes of syrah and bonarda to add color and more blackberry flavors.
This is re-sampling of wine originally received and tasted in September 2016. More than two years later, the wine tastes thinner and less jammy than my 2016 notes indicate. I don’t get as much oak as I reported in 2016. It is more delicate now, with somewhat softly muted flavors. Bottom line: this is enjoyable wine now, but like many wines, it did not gain from more than two years of storage in my large wine refrigerator. Malbec’s characteristically lower tannins is signal it is best upon release.
The Catena family makes this in Argentina, where they have made wine in Mendoza since immigrating from Italy more a century ago. Dr. Nicolás Catena Zapata and his daughter, Laura, run the winery today. They are winemakers and much more. Dr. Catena was a professor of economics at UC-Berkeley in the 1980s and Dr. Laura Catena became an emergency room physician with degrees from Harvard and Stanford before she returned to the family wine business as head of research and development. Laura led the winery in developing high altitude malbec, from which this wine is made. Catena is particularly notable for its high altitude vineyards, some at 5,000 feet in the foothills of the Andes. And Laura remains an emergency room physician in California, splitting her time between occupations.
The father and daughter established the Catena Institute of Wine to scientifically develop Argentinian vines and wines in 2013 as an evolution of the department of research and development they established in 1995. The institute collaborates with UC-Davis in its R&D efforts. Wine Enthusiast named Catena the New World Winery of the Year in 2010 and Decanter Magazine named Nicolás its Man of the Year in 2009. Robert Parker notes: “When all is said and done, Catena Zapata is the Argentina winery of reference—the standard of excellence for comparing all others.”
The female influence does not stop with Laura Catena. Lucia Vaieretti is the Alamos winemaker. She is a second-generation winemaker who worked a dozen years with the Catena family before taking on Alamos responsibilities. Lucia is a mother with four children; her husband also is a winemaker. The Alamos brand ambassador and sommelier is Tatiana Nessier. Nessier is fluent in English, Spanish, and Portuguese and studied to be a sommelier at the Escuela Argentina de Sommeliers. She represents Alamos at the winery and internationally.
You will notice some name issues. The Catena wine distributed by Gallo in the U.S. is labeled Alamos (Spanish word for poplar/cottonwood tree); the winery label is Catena; the official name of the winery is Bodega Catena Zapata (bodega is Spanish for winery). They all come from the same winery.
Alamos Malbec Mendoza 2015 still drinks nicely into its fourth year in bottle, but some of the ripeness and fruitiness has slightly faded compared with my tasting notes of more than two years ago. This remains an enjoyable wine, but it has lost some of its character with the passage of time. A newer vintage would better serve you; discovering that fact is why I put the bottle down for some time and have published this review. Pair with lighter meats; roasted pork; leaner red meats; blue cheese burger; lamb. Superb value-for-price. $9-13