Laura Catena is a fourth-generation winemaker from Argentina. Her father, Nicolas, helped build the country’s prominence and influence in the New World wine category. In addition to Luca and LaPosta wines, Laura runs Catena Winery, and the Catena Wine Institute, all while living in San Francisco, where she is a mother of three, an ER doctor, and an author! Luca Wines are named for her first son, and is a boutique winery of artisan quality. Alongside winemaker and viticulturist Luis Reginato, Laura works with small growers around the Mendoza region to contract out low yield, high quality grapes. High acclaim and limited production, these wines show a unique expression of the terroir that is the Uco Valley of Mendoza. The family crest that appears on the label is that of her husband, Dan McDermott’s family. If you missed it, you could check out the podcast and listen to Laura discuss just how she manages it all.
Argentina is the 5th largest producer of wine in the world with over 75,000 acres planted to vine. Malbec has long been known to be the “red grape of Argentina” and put this South American country on the wine world map. Many varietals grow well in Argentina, and even thrive in some of the highest elevations in the world. Soils vary from sandy loam to clay, but are predominantly loam with excellent drainage. Well controlled irrigation from the runoff of the Andes Mountains, and minimal insect and pesticides are needed due to the elevation and desert climate. These conditions have proven over the years to produce excellent quality fruit, which leads to even better quality wine production.
Luca Chardonnay The prefect balance between a Burgundian and California – style Chardonnay, this wine entices with aromas of lemon crème, baking spices and caramel. Tropical fruit flavors, spiced baked pear, and a stony, mineral finish. I give it three bones on the Brunello scale.
Luca Pinot Noir The critical acclaim is amazing for this wine- 94 points from James Suckling. Aromas of wild strawberries, saddle leather and cola root. A complex Pinot with notes of leather, spice. The cherry and raspberry flavors pair well with duck, game, even grilled salmon, or lamb. I give it three bones.
Luca Old Vine Malbec This wine has made Wine Spectator’s top 100 two years in a row. It expresses the terroir of Mendoza with spice and black cherry cola aromas, and hints of cocoa. The berry flavors on the palate finish with a hint of espresso. I give it three bones.
Luca Laborde Double Select Syrah This Syrah was born of cuttings taken from the Rhone Valley over 50 years ago and planted in the Uco Valley. Aromas of cigar, leather, and smoked meat hit the nose with hints of toasty oak, forest floor and baking spices. Well structured tannins support the big fruit flavors of blackberry jam and spiced black cherry, with a hint of ground fresh black pepper and rhubarb on the finish. This wine is easy to consume now, or hold for a few years. I give it three bones.
Laura Catena’s wines continually gain wine press recognition for consistency in quality. Laura made history as the first to plant Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes at over 4,500 feet- the highest elevation in Mendoza. Laura has always had a vision of creating a new breed of Argentine wine, and these wines deliver. Stop in today, or call ahead for curb side pick-up.
By Brunello Giancola as told to CRBrown