Nicolas Catena: Argentina’s Wine Laureate

This morning, I’m driving to the Bodega Catena Zapata, the winery that changed my opinion of Argentine wine. I remember drinking a Catena red wine one night at a friend’s house and guessing that it was Australian Shiraz. My body hummed with contentment as I let myself down into its berry-decadence. I was pleasantly surprised to find out what it was, and started buying more Malbec. Now, as I follow the long gravel road, a space-age stone temple rises from the vines, framed against the Andes silver peaks. This extravagant architectural statement is the concrete gesture of one man’s desire […]

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First Argentine Wine: Malbec Calling Catena

Continued from Part 1 of Catena Wine That robust work ethic has been in the Catena family for generations. In 1898, his grandfather Nicola left a small village in Sicily for Argentina. He started planting vines in 1902 and raised a family. His eldest son, Domingo, married Angelica Zapata, a daughter of a large land owner, increasing the family’s holdings. By 1973, the winery had become the country’s largest producer of cheap wines, pumping out 240 million bottles a year. Nicolás, the son of Domingo and Angelica, was a brilliant boy and finished high school at 15. At the request […]

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Science and Wine: The Argentine Marriage of True Vines

Continued from Part 2 of Catena Wine That “little project” lasted fifteen years and involved planting 145 Malbec “clones”: the same grape, but from different parent vines, to see which clones would do best in different sites. (“Wine caters to obsessive personalities: it makes you worse,” Nicolás observes with a sigh.) He knew that until the late 1800s, when phylloxera destroyed most European vineyards, Malbec had been one of the most planted grapes in Bordeaux whereas today, it’s less than ten percent of vineyards there. Malbec still thrives in the warm region of southwest France called Cahors, which makes a […]

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Like Father, Like Daughter: Nicolas and Laura Catena

Continued from Part 3 of Argentine Wine The Catena Alta Malbec Cabernet we’re drinking smolders in the glass. Its sultry edge is more enticing than the sweet, soupy international style of many brand name grapes. Nicolás believes that drinkers are shifting away from the herbal flavors of Cabernet and turning more toward wines like Malbec (and Syrah, Tempranillo, and Grenache) that have fleshy dark red fruit and violet flavors. Blending Malbec and Cabernet grapes is still traditional: “These blends give us French elegance and Latin passion,” as Nicolás explains. However, he no longer believes that Malbec needs Cabernet Sauvignon—or any […]

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Argentina’s Wine Visionary Sees the Future Rooted in the Past

Continued from Part 4 of Argentine Wine The 1982 Falklands War with Britain also didn’t help the economy or exports. Then there was hyper-inflation that exceeded 3,000 percent a month, which discouraged foreign investment. Vintners made up for the lost revenue by producing high volumes of poor-quality wines that smelled like bananas rotting in an attic. Meanwhile, neighboring Chile’s economy was much more stable and the country was already producing more wine than it could consume, so it was focused on export in the 1980s. Chile took advantage of this to position itself at the very low end of the […]

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Best Wine Reviews and Ratings: LCBO Vintages Release September 27

You can access the 59 wines that I reviewed for September 27 as a text wine list with my complete tasting notes, scores, food matches. You can also see my wine reviews for September 13. If you are a Paid Member, you can add my wine picks to your custom shopping list with one click and access that list on your smartphone to find the stock for each wine in your closest LCBO store. These are just some of the benefits of supporting out wine community as a Paid Member. Inventory stock numbers are usually posted online a day or two […]

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Mac and Cheese Pizza Recipe Paired with Pinot Noir

Mac and Cheese Pizza Back to school – Send them back with Cheesy Mac You can tell by the morning traffic that back to school season is here. But it’s not all early mornings and angry commutes; it’s also the beginning of a colourful season full of cool class projects, fun field trips, and exciting lunch ideas. I have a great lunchtime meal that your wee ones will eat right up!  Hint: it involves the words “mac”, “cheese” and “pizza”. Say no more. Mac and Cheese is really having its moment. And, well, why wouldn’t it- it’s amazing! Take a […]

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Cream of Roasted Red Pepper with Bocconcini Soup Recipe Paired with Sauvignon Blanc

Cream of Roasted Red Pepper with Bocconcini Soup Warm up to Fall Shorter days. Colder weather. It’s enough to leave you feeling like you need a vacation. But if you can’t do that, why not try the next best thing: a hearty, heartwarming bowl of soup. This recipe for Cream of Roasted Red Pepper with Bocconcini Soup ain’t your grandma’s chicken noodle (not that there’s anything wrong with that). It’s a deliciously modern combination of soft and creamy Canadian Bocconcini  and juicy roasted peppers, topped with a sweet tang of balsamic. It’s one of my go-to soups, and whether you’re […]

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Best LCBO Wines: Vintages Release September 13

You can access the 89 wines that I reviewed for September 13 as a text wine list with my complete tasting notes, scores, food matches and the stock for each bottle in their closest LCBO stores. You can also see my wine reviews for August 30. You can add my wine picks to their custom shopping list with one click and access that list on their smartphone. This is one of the benefits of becoming a Paid Member. Inventory stock numbers are usually posted online a day or two before the release based on the LCBO doing so. Here are […]

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My Roman Holiday: A Food and Wine Lover’s Paradise

Just back from a mouth-watering journey through the streets (strada) of Rome. Here are some pictures and videos to whet your appetite, from olive oil and bruschetta tastings to thin-crust pizza and fresh tomato sauce pasta. Click on each picture at the link above if you want to see the comments to the right about the food and wine. Have you been to Rome? I’d love to hear about your favourite food haunts and restaurants. Ciao! Natalia

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