Episode #495 – Catena Zapata and Kathleen Bershad, Author

Laura Catena

Dr. Laura Catena, Managing Director and Catena Institute of Wine Founder

David talks about Dr. Laura Catena, Managing Director and Catena Institute of Wine Founder and Board, about Catena Wines and her family’s play…

It all began with the label. “For most wineries, labels are just marketing tools designed to quickly catch the eye from a store shelf,” says Dr. Laura Catena, Managing Director of Argentina’s Catena Zapata. “But we had a different idea: Why not create a label that delves deeper and dramatizes the incredible cultural story behind Malbec’s migration from Europe to the Americas?”

The result was so compelling that on Tuesday, May 22nd, 2018, the Drinks Business Awards presented first place to the new label in their Best Design & Packaging for Wine category. The international panel of judges assembled by the U.K.-based wine and spirits publication recognized the label’s combination of innovation, depth, and visual impact at a ceremony held at the London Wine Fair.

It took more than a year to create that original artwork for the Catena Zapata Malbec Argentino 2015, a collectible release that makes its U.S. debut in May and tells the story of the grape through four allegorical female figures. The label artwork also inspired Dr. Catena to create a four-act play with her brother-in-law, playwright Gustavo Ballejo. In the performance, Dr. Catena herself brings the four figures from the label to life. The theatrical piece debuted May 7 to an audience of trade and media at Balvanera, an Argentine restaurant in New York’s Lower East Side. A second performance occurred during the Nantucket Wine & Food Festival on May 18 with others scheduled throughout the year at events around the world. Then, four days later on May 22, the label won the Drinks Business Award.

Dr. Catena said of the honor: “The Malbec Argentino label tells the story of humanity, of women, of migration, and of natural disasters; this award is an acknowledgment of wine as a historical beverage.”

For her performance, Dr. Catena fleshed out the roles of all four of the characters depicted on the label: Eleanor of Aquitaine, the 12th century monarch and Malbec’s first champion; the character “Madame Phylloxera,” representing the voracious female aphid that was the scourge of Bordeaux in the 1850s; the Italian immigrant Ana Mosceta, who is Catena’s own great-grandmother and represents those who brought the first Malbec cuttings to the Americas; and finally Adrianna Catena, who was at the side of her father, Nicolás Catena, as he established the grape variety as a treasure of the New World.

The original label drawing is by the Connecticut-based artist Rick Shaefer, who is known for large-scale works rendered in charcoal that combine the sublime with the macabre. Working with the Catena sisters and with Stranger & Stranger, a wine-focused packaging and design firm, Shaefer created finely detailed drawings that bring to mind Rembrandt’s late-Gothic etchings. The label design of the Malbec Argentino 2015—a premium, 100-percent Malbec release crafted from two of the family’s high altitude vineyards in Mendoza—is dense and layered, and is a radical departure from images used by Catena Zapata in the past. It is also the first time that the historical arc of a grape variety has been so graphically integrated into a wine label.

The grapes in the wine come from two hand-harvested, high altitude vineyards in the Valle del Uco: Angelica at 3,018 feet and Nicasia at 3,593 feet. Low yields and 24 months of aging in French barriques result in a full-bodied, intense and deeply hued wine that drinks well upon release but will also reward cellaring for another 10 to 20 years.

The SRP for the Catena Zapata Malbec Argentino 2015 is $140 and the wine is now available nationally through MundoVino, an import division of The Winebow Group. SOURCE Catena Zapata

Next, it’s Kathleen Bershad, the author of The Wine Lover’s Apprentice, Words of Wisdom for Would-Be Oenophiles, the definitive book for any wine novice.

What’s the best corkscrew to use? Should I decant? How many types of glassware should I buy? Sommelier Kathleen Bershad has the answers. In The Wine Lover’s Apprentice, Bershad acknowledges the importance of tossing out the rules about wine and taking a relaxed approach to storing and serving everyday bottles.

Kathleen Bershad, Author

Readers will learn tricks of the trade and strategies for navigating the shelves of a retail store or ordering wine at a restaurant. The Wine Lover’s Apprentice delves into the nitty-gritty details of winemaking and takes a look at the world’s major wine regions. Written in short bites, readers will easily gain a quick understanding of an area’s major grapes, the style or styles of wine, and the appellations that offer the best quality wine (or the best value). Topics include:

  • What You’re Tasting When You Taste Wine
  • Conquering the Restaurant Wine List
  • Navigating the Wine Shop
  • Serving, Sipping, and Storing
  • And More!

The Wine Lover’s Apprentice unravels the terms you see when reading a wine review, looking at a bottle, or listening to a wine geek talk vino. By the end of this helpful guide, readers will become empowered to know what’s in a bottle, be able to make an educated guess about its flavors, and help change the culture to make drinking wine what it should be—relaxing and fun.

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