2011 Catena Tikal Malbec Sampler 12-Pack
 
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Nicolas Catena & Tikal Vineyards Good Money After Bad

It's been more than forty years since the Argentine economist, while sitting at his desk on Telegraph Avenue, received the call. Ernesto Catena was distraught, and immediately began peppering his brilliant son, Nicolas, with a barrage of figures. The family's winegrowing business was on the ropes -- as were most in Argentina in the 1960s -- victimized by a poor local economy and an unstable government. It wouldn't take Nicolas long to run through the numbers in his head.


Nicolas wouldn't sugarcoat the picture. "There's no way out. Shut the place down. Walk away. There's no sense throwing good money after bad."


A month later, knowing full well that his son's Berkeley-educated opinion was spot on, the father ignored his son's advice. The harvest took place right on schedule. Ernesto Catena lost his shirt.


A year later, when Nicolas Catena returned to Mendoza, he'd completed a thorough analysis of the family's business. "If we continued to farm for quantity, we were dead. Our market was Argentine and the internal economy was in shambles." Argentina's logical equivalent to Napa's Robert Mondavi went on. "We had to raise the bar to compete on the global stage. It was a long shot, but it was the only possible way out."


Over the last few decades, the investment the Catenas made in their high elevation vineyards -- irrigated by runoff from the snowcapped Andes -- has paid handsome dividends, vaulting the Catena empire into the critical stratosphere. And while it's the $100+/bottle, 98+ point Malbecs of Catena Zapata that are Argentina's most soft after collectables, it's Catena's "Patriota" and "Natural" that top Parker's list of Mendoza's juiciest bargains.


In the phenomenal 2011 growing season -- absent the heat spikes that often blister these small berry clusters -- Catena turned out two phenomenal bargains. The first, "Patriota," is a lavish black fruit blend that would earn top honors from the Wine Advocate, as Argentina's best value red.


The second is the 2011 "Natural" -- a phenomenally concentrated, exquisitely sleek blend of 60% Malbec and 40% Syrah -- drawn entirely from an experimental, organically farmed parcel in Vista Flores.


In many ways, despite all the lavish, Napa-like concentration of these 2011 Catena powerhouses, it's the wines' versatility that most stands out. Serve at 62 degrees during the winter months and the full throttle, modernist extravagance stands tall when accompanied by hearty stews and roasted game. But come May, and especially during the summer months, we serve Catena's brilliant Malbec blends a touch cooler -- at 58 degrees -- pairing them with sizzling salmon, tuna, steak or burgers right off the BBQ.




Tasting Notes

2011 Tikal Patriota Mendoza
"The 2011 Tikal Patriota is a blend of 60% Malbec and 40% Bonarda from Vista Flores and La Vendimia from 14-year-old vines. It is raised in French and American oak for 12 months (30% new.) It has a confident, out-going bouquet of raspberries and wild strawberry complemented by hints of marmalade and quince. The palate is medium-bodied with luscious black fruit infused with minerals and a touch of graphite. It is supremely harmonious and seductive with filigree tannins on the refined finish. Wonderful. Drink now-2017."
92 points -- Robert Parker's The Wine Advocate

2011 Tikal Natural Red Wine Mendoza
"The 2011 Tikal Natural is a blend of 60% Malbec and 40% Syrah both organically farmed in Vista Flores from 10-year-old vines. It is aged for ten months in 80% French and 20% American oak of which 10% is new. It has a vibrant, almost life-affirming bouquet of lifted dark cherries, blueberry, soy and minerals that is beautifully defined. The palate is sensual and caressing on the entry, setting you up for its silky tannins, pure macerated dark cherries and blueberry fruit struck through by a keen thread of acidity. Utterly seductive! Drink now-2017."
91 points -- Robert Parker's The Wine Advocate

 

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