Have you tasted an Argentine Malbec? Which foods pair best with Malbec? Why is Malbec more like Pinot Noir than Cabernet? What are the health benefits of wine?
In this episode of the Unreserved Wine Talk podcast, we’re chatting with Dr. Laura Catena, a fourth-generation Argentine vintner, physician and author.
You can find the wines we discussed here.
- How does Laura’s scientific approach to winemaking improve the taste of the Malbecs you drink?
- What is the significance of the pyramid-style of the Catena winery?
- Why is Malbec the flagship grape of Argentina?
- What differences can you see in the popularity of Argentine wine over the past two decades?
- What flavours do you taste in Catena Malbec and Cabernet Franc?
- Why is Malbec so easy for you to pair with a wide variety of foods?
- What will you learn from Vino Argentino on your journey as a wine enthusiast?
- How does Vino Argentino help you to but Argentine wines and pair them with food?
- How does Laura describe her first hundred-point wine, Adrianna Vineyard Fortuna Terrae Malbec?
- What aspects of the Fortuna Terrae parcel lead to cellar-worthy wines?
- Why is your Torrontes taste experience uniquely Argentine?
- Can you taste a difference with high altitude wines?
- How can you explore new regions through the Appellation line of wines?
- What advice does Laura have about wine and your health?
- Why does moderation look different for each person?
- When did Laura realize she wanted to join the family winery despite her medical career?
- How did El Nino cause the worst moment of Laura’s winemaking career?
- What was the best moment of Laura’s winemaking career so far?
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About Dr. Laura Catena
Laura Catena is a fourth generation Argentine vintner, physician and author. Catena’s great grandfather founded the Catena winery in Mendoza in 1902 after emigrating from Italy. Her father, Nicolas Catena Zapata, often referred to as “the Robert Mondavi of Argentina,” helped facilitate the ascent of Argentine Malbec onto the world stage.
Born in Mendoza, Argentina, Laura graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University and has a Medical Doctor degree from Stanford University. Laura combines a strong science background with a passion for her family winery. She is currently managing director of Bodega Catena Zapata and her own Luca Wines in Mendoza, as well as a practicing Emergency Medicine physician in San Francisco.
Laura has been called the “face” of Argentine wine. She has traveled the globe to lecture about Argentine wines and viticulture and has been an invited speaker at the American Society of Wine Educators, Decanter Fine Wine Encounter, The Smithsonian and the Vancouver Playhouse among others.
In 2010 Laura Catena released her book Vino Argentino, An Insider’s Guide to the Wines and Wine Country of Argentina (Chronicle Books), the first book about Argentine wine by a U.S. publisher. Dave McIntyre of The Washington Post wrote: “Vino Argentino is a mouthwatering introduction to the wines and culture of Argentina.”
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Transcript & Takeaways
Welcome to episode 74!
In this episode of the Unreserved Wine Talk podcast, we’re chatting with Dr. Laura Catena, a fourth-generation Argentine vintner, physician and author. Laura combines a strong science background with a passion for her family winery. She is currently managing director of Bodega Catena Zapata and her own Luca Wines in Mendoza, as well as a practicing Emergency Medicine physician in San Francisco. Our conversation was recorded before the pandemic, so I did not distract this dynamo first responder when we need her most.
This conversation first aired on my regular Facebook live video a couple of years ago, so keep that in mind as the context for Laura’s comments. Also, you’ll occasionally hear me respond to viewer questions. You can be part of that conversation every second Wednesday at 7 pm eastern.
Since our chat, Laura has just published a second book called “Gold in the Vineyards.” It features true stories of love, family, betrayal and war at the origin of twelve of the world’s most famous vineyards, including Bordeaux’s Château Lafite Rothschild and Château d’Yquem, Burgundy’s Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Italy’s Antinori, California’s Harlan Estate Australia’s Henschke and of course, her own family vineyards in Argentina. You can buy it online through Amazon, Indigo and other booksellers. And in other news, Catena Zapata was just named the World’s Most Admired Wine Brand by the prestigious magazine Drinks International.
If you want to discover great wines like Malbec, sign up for my free, online video wine class the 5 Wine & Food Pairing Mistakes That Can Ruin Your Dinner (and how to fix them forever!).
Go to nataliemaclean.com/class and choose a time and date that work for you. I look forward to seeing you inside the class!
Okay, on with the show!
You can also watch the video interview with Laura that includes bonus content and behind-the-scenes questions and answers that weren’t included in this podcast.
Well, there you have it! I hope you enjoyed this chat with Dr. Laura Catena.
Here are my takeaways:
- I love Laura’s description of everything that’s alive in the vineyard, not just the vines, but in the soil and in the air.
- She brings such a disciplined and scientific approach to winemaking with thousands of mico-vinifications, and yet she loves wines for the human connection.
- Laura puts Argentine winemaking into excellent context, from the Malbec vine cuttings from Bordeaux in 1852 to present-day innovations.
- I never thought of Malbec being more like Pinot Noir in its delicacy than say Cabernet. However, it indeed is smooth and elegant like Pinot, and certainly doesn’t have the grippy, furry-mouth tannins of Cabernet. That really broadens my thinking on potential food pairings.
- Argentina, more than most winemaking regions, is expert at high-altitude planting and knowing how to handle the higher UV sunlight on the grapes. There is a difference between sunlight and heat when it comes to ripening grapes, both for their sugar and the phenols in their skins.
- Laura reminds us all that wine was the first medicine, and that it can be part of a healthy and happy life when we drink it in moderation. I’ll drink to that.
If you liked this episode, please tell a friend about it, especially one who’s interested in the fascinating wine tips that Laura shared. You’ll find links to Laura’s winery websites, the wines we tasted, a full transcript of our conversation, the video version of this chat and where you can find us on Facebook live every second Wednesday at 7 pm at nataliemaclean.com/74.
Finally, if you want to connect with me personally, join me in a free online video class at nataliemaclean.com/class.
You won’t want to miss next week when we’ll be chatting with Klaus Reif, who has worked 33 vintages in Niagara. He has seen so much through these decades in terms of how the Ontario wine industry has changed through his own winery, Reif Estate, and has a compelling vision for where Ontario and Canada are headed. In 2018, Reif was named Canadian Winery of the Year by the most prestigious wine competition in the world, the international wine and spirits competition that’s held in London, England. He joins me from his winery in Niagara.
Thank-you for taking the time to join me here. I hope something great is in your glass this week, perhaps a delicious Malbec!