CATENA ALTA MALBEC - 2003
As I searched for the perfect bottle over the weekend, it dawned on me how every year I struggle to find the right wine to open for my birthday. Even though much greater wines exist in my cellar, I was attracted to this bottle of Catena for several reasons. First off, I had two bottles of this Malbec so it was less of a sacrifice. I had also quickly tasted this wine at the Grand Tour last month and wanted to see if it was as good as I remembered. Most importantly, Catena is where my obsession for wine was born. The moment I tasted Catena Alta Chardonnay, my love affair began. So on reflection of the last year, my life and my experiences in the wine world, I couldn't think of a more fitting bottle than one from my favorite Mendoza vineyard.
This Argentina red is unfiltered, has 14.2% alcohol and is made from 100% Malbec.
Rich purple color with ripe blue and black fruit on the nose and palate. Dusty tannins with hints of cocoa, charred oak and vanilla. Smooth, full-bodied, with chewy tannins and lots of black currant on the mid-palate and finish.
SCORE & RECOMMENDATION:
This is a big, thick wine that really could use some more time in the bottle but it is drinking wonderfully now. Even better the second day as it reveals more concentrated fruit, balance and integrated flavors. Retails for around $37 making it a cheaper (and better) alternative than most California Cabernets in this price range.