Chacras and Catena Zapata
Located just outside of Mendoza, lies the suburb of Chacras which is a smaller, quieter version of the center of the city. This is where many of the affluent Mendocinos own property and where wineries are tucked away in their own special nooks.
One in particular we recommend checking out is Clos de Chacras, the best known and one of the oldest bodegas in Chacras. A tasting of three wines cost us $15 AR each and they were different than any wines we had tried before. Clos de Chacras makes their wines in a very traditional manner and they ferment them in HUGE cement vats, rather than stainless steel. Because of their unique fermentation style and winemaking preferences, we thought their wines had more of a rustic, old world flavor paired with some herbal notes.
There is also a restaurant at the winery where guests can do food and wine pairings, but it's pretty pricy, so I recommend just making a reservation for the tour and tasting. We brought our lunch and ate in the plaza where there was loads of great people watching and photo-ops.
The day we were in Chacras, we met up with a friend on his way to Catena Zapata and decided to tag along. There was a moment of deja vu as we took the long, dirt road up to the property as it was the same road we had taken in our pursuit to find Vina Cobos the week before. Upon turning into Catena Zapata we were put in direct view of the Bodega, which looked more like an Incan or Mayan temple than any of the other properties we had visited and driven past.
It was also very clear that the vines that were all around the property were very well cared for and were of substantial quality. Once we parked, we even tasted one of the Cabernet Sauvignon grapes on a nearby vine and the sugar levels (or brix) were prime for picking. We were told that they were in the process of harvesting that whole week and that there would not be fruit on that vine in the next couple of days.
Walking through the gold front doors of Catena Zapata, it was clear that the design was palatial but also functional. We were given a quick tour of the bodega which took us downstairs to a private tasting room which looked out over the barrel room.
Next, we came to a room full of Catena wines that had been unlabeled. These wines were for comparative tasting purposes where the Catenas could try their wines up against other great wines of the world. This made more sense when we looked inside the next room where racks full of first growth Bordeauxs and California Cabernets lined the walls.
Finally, we were led upstairs to the roof where we could look out over the vineyard. It was an absolutely beautiful day and our view accentuated the great expanse of the property.
To finish the visit off right, we were brought in to the tasting room where tastes of their wines had been set up for us. We got to try the 2008 Catena Alta Chardonnay, the 2007 Angelica Zapata Chardonnay, the 2007 Catena Alta Malbec and the 2006 Angelica Zapata Malbec. We also received a booklet showing the vineyard location and soil composition for each wine which, for cork dorks like us, is very interesting. Every wine we tasted was fantastic, especially the Angelica Zapata wines which we had originally been introduced to at our tasting at the Park Hyatt in Buenos Aires. The 2004 Angelica Zapata Cabernet Franc is still the best wine we have had from Mendoza, hands down! Unfortunately to our friends in the States, the Angelica Zapata wines are only available in Argentina and we don't blame them!
Clos De Chacras- Ph: 54-261-4960321 /web: www.closdechacras.com.ar/
Bodega Catena Zapata- Ph: 54-261- 4131100/web: http://catenawines.com