March 8th, 2020 is “International Women’s Day” so this week we are celebrating one of our favorite female wine makers, winery owners and names in international wine, Dr. Laura Catena. Laura is a 4th generation winemaker, Harvard grad, Stanford Doctorate physician and author. She splits time between Mendoza as a vineyard owner and San Francisco as a practicing physician. She also works alongside some of the best vineyard owners/producers to produce her “La Posta” wines of Argentina and has her own winery Luca, named after her first son. She is an absolute badass, regardless of her gender but personifies the passion and capabilities of women around the world.
We are proud to offer two wines from Luca: the 2017 G-Lot Chardonnay and the 2014 Beso de Dante red blend. We think these two wines capture Laura’s vision and translate beautifully into the California palate.
Notes from the region:
Uco Valley-Mendoza, Argentina-
The Uco Valley (Valle de Uco) is a key winegrowing region of Mendoza, Argentina. An hour’s drive south from the city of Mendoza, it is home to some of the region’s most famous wines.
Argentina’s primary grape variety of Malbec shines here, producing terroir-driven red wines with a distinctive floral aroma. Cabernet Franc is much less widely planted, but some great results have been achieved. In addition, some of Mendoza’s finest white wines made from Chardonnay and Torrontés come from Uco Valley vineyards. The relatively cool climate allows the requisite slower ripening period.
Although considered part of the Mendoza region, the Uco Valley can be recognized in its own right on several counts. Not only is the vine-growing area quite distinct; the region is also home to several of Argentina’s top producers. Attracted by the excellent climate and soil, newcomers such as the Bordeaux-based names Lurton, Dassault, Rothschild and Rolland have raised the region’s profile. The vineyards of Vista Flores have produced some particularly successful wines.
Among Uco’s specific merits is its high elevation at the foot of the Andes mountains. The valley’s La Consulta and Tunuyan sub-regions sit at altitudes of 850 meters (2000 ft) and 1100m (3600 ft) respectively. These are slightly higher above sea level than Maipu and Luján de Cuyo in the north.
Located at a latitude of 33°S, the area’s elevated vineyard sites benefit from high daytime temperatures combined with cooler nights. This allows the grapes to produce balanced sugars and acidity while achieving phenolic ripeness.
From the Tupungato region in the north to San Carlos in the south, the Uco Valley is roughly 70km (45 miles) long and 22km (15 miles) wide. The valley follows the northerly course of the Tunuyan river as it flows down from the Andean peaks. The dry continental climate brings little rain, so the river is an important resource for vineyard irrigation. The town of Tunuyan, with a population of around 45,000, is situated on the western banks of the river.
Soils throughout the Uco Valley are alluvial and fairly uniform: a clay and rock base with a stony, sandy surface. These free-draining soils are excellent for quality viticulture, as they stress the vines, leading to decreased vigor and lower yields. In turn this can lead to wines with a higher concentration of flavor.
Uco Valley has seen unprecedented investment in the past 20 years. Wine tourism is becoming one of the region’s key industries. The spectacular scenery and state-of-the-art winemaking facilities has led some to portay the region as Argentina’s equivalent to California’s Napa Valley.
Notes from Luca Vineyards:
Luca was born out of Laura Catena’s vision of creating a new breed of Argentine wines: small quantities, artisan quality, and true to their individual terroirs. She is a pioneer in Mendoza for working closely with small growers to grow very high-quality grapes from some of Argentina’s best old-vine, low-yield, high elevation vineyards. Each varietal delivers power along with complexity and finesse. They are the ultimate expression of rigorous vineyard management, viticultural experimentation, strict irrigation controls, skilled winemaking, and a quest for quality at any cost.
Luca is named after Laura Catena’s first son and it symbolizes her love for her family. The family crest that appears on the label belongs to her husband Dan McDermott’s family.
LAURA CATENA, OWNER
Born in Mendoza, Argentina to a pioneering winemaking family, Laura is relentlessly determined in all that she accomplishes. She has helped her father, Nicolas Catena, build the country’s prominence and influence in the New World wine scene. In addition to Luca and La Posta wines, Laura runs Catena Winery and the Catena Wine Institute while living in San Francisco where she is a mother of three, an ER doctor, and an author.
“Since Laura Catena took over and put her name on the label, the estate series seems to have taken on a bigger, brasher expression. The Catena Zapata wines can stand proudly among the best in the world.”
Dave McIntyre, The Washington Post
Rae’s Place Tasting Notes:
Luca Chardonnay “G-Lot” 2017 Mendoza, Argentina
This is a stunning effort from Laura Catena. Big, ripe apple and pear with tropical notes and plenty of toasted oak. This Chardonnay can stand up to the big boys and also has enough restraint to keep your palate from exhaustion.
Pair with lobster, grilled halibut or lemon risotto with roasted sunchokes.
Luca Vineyards Beso De Dante Red Blend 2014 Uco Valley, Argentina
Cabernet, Malbec, Cab Franc
This is an amazing red blend from Laura Catena of the Catena family in Argentina. Great fruit with hints of mint, amazing structure and depth with good body and acidity. This is a big, cab drinker’s red from one of the greatest winemaking families on the planet let alone Argentina. These are Laura’s vineyards and wines, made by her using generations of knowledge and true passion. Grab a bottle, you’ll be glad you did.
Pair this with everything you’d think of in Argentine BBQ and big, ripe cheese. Or just sit back in your chair and let this wine wash over you.