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All podcast music: “Café connection” by morgantj / CC BY 3.0, ©2009 – Licensed under Creative Commons 
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Mar 8, 2017

The first in a series for Women's History Month, I speak to Laura Catena of Bodegas Catena Zapata in Mendoza, Argentina. We discuss her life as a doctor, a mom, and the head of a wine empire, the history of Malbec and how her family aided the meteoric rise of Argentine wine and of the comeback of the Malbec grape around the world. 

A fun, sharp-as-a-tack woman, you'll learn a ton about Malbec, Mendoza, and a few life lessons from this fascinating podcast! 


Laura’s History and Background on the Catena Family

  • Her life as a doctor and the bridge between medicine and wine
  • Her career pivot to the wine and becoming “the wine doctor” for her country and family
  • Historical perspective
    • The Catena family history in wine
    • The history with Malbec and history of Catena and Malbec
  • Her dad and her homage to him: his pride of country and why he has been so successful


Malbec and it’s Rich History

  • Malbec Studies
    • Pre-phylloxera clippings
    • Flavors based on altitude/studies on altitude
    • The sides of Malbec: the agebility factor, and the evolution of the grape
    • Old v New vines: the real differences
      • Luca: Laura’s own project of all old vine wine, managed separately and small and how it fosters Argentinean pride


Laura’s Advice on Doing it All

  • How she handles being a mom, a doctor, and running a major wine company
    • The power of the B+
    • The balance of kids and work and life advice on spouses, marriage, and kids


Making Wine in Mendoza

  • High altitude growing and Catena’s role: Argentina has distinctive regions – b/c of the altitude huge variations in climates, move faster from warmer to colder
  • Nicolas’s (her dad’s) altitude bet and its payoff – combination, altitude, latitude, plant material
  • Sub-regions:
    • Lujan de Cuyo= old vines, clay soils, makes some good stuff
    • Uco Valley = Key region for quality
      • Sub-regions: Tupungato, Alta Mira, La Consulta, Gualtallary


The Wine Culture of Argentina and the Wines of Catena

  • Alamos: Gallo family’s distribution and the benefits of the relationship for the Catenas. The importance of keeping the small producers alive. The paradox of being big and supporting small producers
  • Lafite-Rothschild and Catena: Bodegas CARO wines
  • Luca: Laura’s project
  • Bodega Catena Zapata
    • Catena – classic Malbec, $20
    • Catena Alta – historic rows of vines
    • Catena Zapata/Adrianna Vineyards – small parcels, harvest plant by plant, hand harvested