The label “princess” is certainly a lofty one. Albeit it true, Laura Catena is that and so much more. After spending time with her on a recent visit to Miami, it is difficult not to be in sheer awe and amazement while in her presence.
Lets begin with the fact that she really is the princess of Argentine winemaking. Her grandfather, Nicola Catena, emmigrated to Argentina is hopes of making a life for he and his family. Originally a wine worker from Marche, he planted his first vineyard in 1902 to malbec and everything else is history. The Catena family, father Nicolas, brother Ernesto and Laura herself, have been at the helm of quality-driven wine making revolution and have forged the path for an Argentine wine renaissance. More and more wineries have followed suit in the production of wines with terroir, personality and local gusto.
A tireless, energetic force, Laura wears a multitude of hats; so many so, it is almost dizzying. She serves as president and wine consultant to her father’s company, Bodegas Catena Zapata, thereby creating and approving the blends for the Catena, Catena Alta and Catena Zapata labels; is an emergency room surgeon in San Francisco along with degrees from both Harvard and Stanford; wife and mother of three children; and lastly, creator of Luca winery.
Luca is Laura’s first personal label. Named after her oldest son Luca, it is an ode old vines. After living in France and working with Chateau Lafite, Laura returned to Argentina with a fresh outlook on winemaking and decided to rally a group of growers so that she could begin producing wines from old vines with deeper character and vibrant expression. Intensely proud of Luca, Laura firmly believes they are some of the best wines coming out of Argentina today.
Last but not least, Laura also just released her book “Vino Argentino: An Insider’s Guide to the Wines and Wine Country of Argentina.” The book is filled with food and wine information, broken down by region, and promotes a mix of local heroes such as Susana Balbo, José Alberto Zuccardi, José Manuel Ortega of Bodegas y Viñedos O. Fournier, Michel Rolland and Paul Hobbs.
According to the New York Times, “Vino Argentino: An Insider’s Guide to the Wines and Wine Country of Argentina,” is “a most welcome gazetteer to this dappled territory, compact enough to squeeze into a carry-on and handsome enough to take up residence on any coffee table.” More importantly, it is a love letter to her beloved country of Argentina and her father, Nicolas.
Haute Wines was only too fortunate to get the chance to spend an evening with Argentine royalty. Laura Catena is a trailblazer in the wine world. Her vision of creating a new breed of Argentine wines has only begun and, at this rate, will continue to grow exponentially. Salud!
Luca, Chardonnay, Valle del Uco, Mendoza, Arg, 2008, $35 – When asking Laura, “Which wine do you particularly love to drink?” She mentioned, “My chardonnay.” After tasting it, it is no wonder. A lovely pale gold, it smells of Werther’s caramel candy, toasted corn, baked spiced apples along with a light smokiness. One sip later, the sharp acidity leaves you wanton for another sip and that mish mash of Werther’s, corn and apple tickles the palate while the finish is eternally long, smokey and spicey. A surprising combination, full and rich, yet elegant and balanced as well.
Please note some wines are very limited in production and therefore may be difficult to find. If interested in acquiring, tweet me @epicuriouschic and I will be happy to help you source the wine.