Travel: Mendoza - Expert Recomendations

Alejandro Sejanovich, Vineyard manager at Catena Zapata

  • With Argentine Malbec, one of the most important jobs in the vineyard is to select the very best plants to work with. The mapping of each vineyard is a painstaking process that takes many years to complete. We must watch and observe the vineyard very closely, looking for those physical characteristics in different lots that will indicate greater potential – naturally low vigor, low yields, balance in the plant. As we notice different sections in the vineyards with these qualities, we must then vinify them separately in order to verify their potential. This is a slow, determined process of gradually honing in the very best places in each vineyard, the “sweet spots” which will give us the highest quality. At the end of the day it’s always surprising how small these exceptional lots are, never more than 5 or 6 hectares, and sometimes as small as 1 or 2. Managing these lots with very conservative yields of no more than 6 clusters per vine gives us exceptional concentration and intensity of flavors and aromas.

    However, our selection does not end there. We have continued the process to select individual vines in these top lots which show exceptional characteristics –not only low yields and balance, but small clusters, small berries, excellent fruit distribution, all indications of something special. Each year, about one month before harvest, we begin to select the “Zapata Plants”, marking them for individual management – carefully hand tended, harvested and vinified separately. It is this exceptional selection on an individual vine by vine basis that has allowed us to show the world class potential of our high altitude Malbec.