Wine Feature – Bodega Catena Zapata

An Epic Family Story and Epic Wine


“The Pampas” is a mural in El Gaucho Seattle’s Wine Room that owner Paul Mackay commissioned from artist Nina Mikhailenko. It’s a typical scene of the Argentine Gauchos gathering on the open plain, or pampas.

El Gaucho steak and Argentine wine – these two were meant to be together.  Because of our brand’s namesake, we have always had an affinity for things from Argentina, including our cooking style over the open flame and, of course, wines.   If you are a wine lover, then you’re probably familiar with Mendoza, Argentina, and then you’ve probably heard of Catena wines.  Their family history reads like a classic novel, a sort of South American version of “Gone with The Wind.”

The story begins in 1898 when Nicola Catena sailed from Italy to Argentina to start a new life. It’s rumored he ate raw steak every morning for breakfast in celebration of his new homeland. Known for being a “tireless optimist,” he planted his first grapes in Mendoza.  In Italy, Malbec was a blending grape, but Catena suspected it would find its hidden splendor in Argentina.


Catena Zapata 2001 Malbec. The wines reflect a family’s century long journey to create.

Nicola’s grandson, Nicholas, was a PhD graduate in economics and was the “quiet revolutionary” who took his family business and vineyards to a new level.  He became a visiting professor at UC Berkley in the early 1980s and he fell in love with California wines; Napa particularly became an inspiration.  Argentina was viewed as a bulk wine producer at the time, and after he returned to his homeland, he began selling off his table wines and focusing on quality.

Catena invests heavily in researching microclimates, elevations and terroir, and many of Catena vineyards are planted at nearly 5,000 ft. elevation level in the Andes’ Mountain foothills.  The best grapes have been meticulously identified, and these historic rows are manually farmed and hand-tended.


Alfredo Bartholomaus will host the Bodega Catena Zapata wine dinner on Sept 19th at El Gaucho Seattle

Part of Nicholas’ vision was to become a player on the world stage, and in 1988 he approached Alfredo Bartholomaus, about introducing Catena wines to the U.S. market, and he agreed.  Known among the wine community as a pioneer of South American wines, Alfredo played a huge role in advancing these wines to their current acclaim in the industry.  He also founded his own winery, Billington Wines, which he sold in 1985, and was honored as Wine Advocate’s “Wine Personality of the Year” in both 2001 and 2005.

To showcase these exceptional wines, we are thrilled to offer seats to a very special, seven-course wine dinner hosted by Alfredo himself at El Gaucho Seattle, September 19, 2013. Catena’s big steak wines perfectly compliment El Gaucho’s Certified Angus Beef® Prime steaks and chops.  Attendees to this exclusive event will have the first opportunity to purchase Catena’s 2009 Malbec collection at exclusive El Gaucho retail pricing. If that doesn’t entice you, maybe these amazing scores will:

Catena Alta Malbec, Mendoza 2009,  94 Points Robert Parker
Catena Nicasia Vineyard Malbec, Mendoza 2009, 93 Points Wine Spectator
Catena Adrianna Vineyard Malbec, Mendoza 2009, 94 Points Wine Spectator
Catena Argentino Malbec, Mendoza, 2009 95 points Robert Parker
Catena Zapata Nicolás Catena Zapata, Mendoza, 2009, 94 Points Robert Parker


The Bodega Catena Zapata wine dinner at El Gaucho Seattle line-up.

Executive Chef Matt Brandsey and Wine Director James Parsons have collaborated in the creation of the Bodega Catena Wine Dinner.  This dinner shows off the culinary team at El Gaucho Seattle like no other wine dinner in recent memory, highlighting unexpected dishes executed with traditional Gaucho flair.  Each course is paired with one of Catena’s brilliant Chardonnay or robust Malbec varietals, reflecting a family’s century-long journey to create.

Be a part of this epic event and join us to try these sought-after wines. Seats are limited, so call 206.728.1337 for more information and reservations. To view a full menu, visit our website:

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