Bodega Catena Zapata Alamos Torrontés 2015

Light yellow color; flowers, jasmine, peach on the nose; peach, citrus, pineapple, lychee on the palate.

Emphatic fruitiness, very nice acidity (3.27 pH), fresh, lively, balanced; an exciting alternative to chardonnay. Plays well with spicy, flavor-filled foods—similar to gewürztraminer.

Torrontés is Argentina’s signature white grape. It particularly shines when grown at high altitude, as the grapes for this wine were. They come from the Salta region in northwest Argentina, with some of the vineyards at 6,000 feet—the highest vineyards on earth—and in the shadows of the towering Andes, from which the meltwater comes to irrigate the vineyards.

The Catena family makes this in Argentina, where they have made wine 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 was an emergency room physician with degrees from Harvard and Stanford before she returned to the family wine business as head of research and development. Catena is particularly notable for its high altitude vineyards.

The father and daughter established the Catena Institute of Wine to scientifically develop Argentinian vines and wines in 2013 as an evolution of the winery’s department of research and development established in 1995. The institute collaborates with UC-Davis in its R&D efforts. Decanter Magazine named Nicolás its Man of the Year in 2009, and Wine Enthusiast named Catena the New World Winery of the Year in 2010. 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.” You will notice some name issues; the 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).

Bodega Catena Zapata Alamos Torrontés 2015 is delicious, different, and something every wine drinker should experience. The odds are good it will become another go-to white for you. A great price certainly adds to its attraction. Gallo distributes in the United States, so you should be able to easily find this. $9-13

Catena website (go to the Press page for a very good video: “Catena Alta Film.”)

Other photos: Catena Winery; Dr. Catena and wife Elena; Dr. Laura Caten