The New New World Chardonnay - Wine & Spirits Magazine

The New New World Chardonnay

Catena Alta Chardonnay is a selection from the Adrianna Vineyard (above) as well as rows at Domingo. (photo courtesy of the winery)

Laura Catena and Alejandro Vigil have built an impressive collection of chardonnays from Catena’s high Andean vineyards. When they hit, they combine sunny-ripe citrus notes with the energy infusion of fresh fruit grown at altitude. We recommended three exceptional chardonnays from Catena in the cool, low-yielding 2021 vintage, including the White Bones, farmed in Gualtallary, at the Adrianna Vineyard, a parcel rich in limestone from alluvial fossil deposits. Grown at 4,750 feet in altitude, White Bones has an herbal depth to the fruit that will develop with age. The 2021 White Stones comes from six acres at Adrianna where the white-stone “topsoil” is the remnant of an ancient riverbed. It’s a racy lime-scented chardonnay with earthy undertones; like White Bones, it will benefit from cellar time.

Catena Alta is a broader selection from two sites—Domingo, in the Villa Bastías district of Tupungato, and Adrianna. Nicolas Catena planted both sites in the early 1990s, working with the Mendoza clone as well as Dijon clones. Laura Catena reports that the winemaking has been consistent over the years, with partial malolactic conversion, French oak, and a small amount of the wine going into new barrels. “Historic Rows” is markedly more affordable, and immediately more accessible than the two single-parcel wines in 2021. Even so, Tasting Director Corey Warren suggested that if you open this wine now, decanting will take it beyond the rich oak and flinty flavors. He went on to review it with a 94-point rating: “Just sit with it for a few minutes to allow the gorgeous, ethereal orchard fruit flavors to come forward. We see a lot of New World chardonnays with profligate weight. This is not one of them. Instead, it’s an Andean wine of pedigree and power.”


Catena 2021 Mendoza Alta Historic Rows Chardonnay

Every week, our editors highlight a wine that intrigued them in our blind panel tastings, expanding on their tasting note in this space. These are entirely editorial choices; there are no paid placements. Subscribers can also access the original tasting note by searching here.

Joshua Greene is the editor and publisher of Wine & Spirits magazine.

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