The occasion was a wine-tasting event and theatrical performance hosted by Argentine winemaker Laura Catena. She brought her roadshow to L.A., "As Wine Flows By," a short original play which tells the tale of the Malbec grape through the perspectives of four women who embody different landmarks in the variety's history. Catena commented that for years the wine world has been overloaded with Y-chromosomes. "Men made the wine. Men wrote about the wine. Men collected the wine. It wasn't until the 1980s that women's contributions began to be noticed and acknowledged." London actress Tina Baston worked wonders as the storyteller.
Several of the wine writer types recognized me, and I made a few new friends. One of the wine sales types commented to me that that there were worse ways to spend an overcast afternoon than by drinking wine in some rich person’s back yard. I had to concur.
Laura Catena is a winemaker, medical doctor and all-around gracious woman who has labelled one of her wines with a visual representation of the Malbec story. She also has a new book to push, Gold in the Vineyards, the story of her family's involvement in wine and a look at a dozen of the world’s most famous vineyards.
The 2018 Catena Appellation Tupungato Chardonnay is an elegant white made from grapes grown on high mountain vines. The barrel fermentation and nine months aging in French oak shows, with sweet oak spice and tropical citrus on the nose. The palate is only slightly oaky and has a very pleasant earthy note.
The 2017 Adrianna Vineyard White Bones Chardonnay bears the floral expression for which the vineyard is known. The wine is earthier and leaner than the previous pair and reminiscent of Chablis.
The 2015 Nicolas Catena Zapata is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec. It shows dark fruit and oak spice on the nose and is dark and brooding on the palate, a perfect match for steak.
The 2017 Malbec Argentino is a blend of two vineyards, Nicasia and Angélica. The expansive nose is fruity with white pepper and perfume along for the ride. Easy tannins lead to a beautiful finish.
The 2015 Nicasia Vineyard Malbec is perfumed as well, and shows cherries on the nose and palate. Firm tannins beg for a meat pairing.
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