This post will be shorter than usual since I spent two days this week sampling some wines for my previously posted blog on some Robert Mondavi Private Selection wines.  If these every day wines interest you, please check out that post.




2009 Bodega Catena Zapata Malbec – $16.14


My comments

I knew I’d be facing potentially severe weather this week since I had a business trip to Virginia and everyone knew the Frankenstorm was headed this way.  I decided I wanted to bring a couple of fuller bodied red wines to keep me company in the hotel room in the evening.  I grabbed three bottles of this wine when the local store had a sale of the WS Top 100 wines, this was #58 on the 2011 list.  With a suggested retail price of $24, and a community average price of over $20, I felt I got a good deal.  The only way to know if you got a good deal though, is to drink the wine.  Tonight I’ll find out how good of a deal this was.


Winery history

It is part of our family’s folklore that our forefather Nicola Catena, who sailed from Italy to Argentina in 1898, celebrated leaving the famine in Europe for this plentiful new land by eating a piece of virtually raw steak for breakfast each morning. Best described as a tireless optimist, he firmly believed that he had found the promised land in Mendoza, where he planted his first Malbec vineyard in 1902. Malbec had been a blending grape in Bordeaux. But Nicola suspected it would find its hidden splendour in the Argentine Andes. Domingo, his son, inherited that dream and took the family winery to the next level, becoming one of the largest vineyard holders in Mendoza.


By the 1960s, however, Familia Catena was struggling. The Argentine economy was in shambles and inflation rates were soaring. One year, Domingo realized that it would cost him more to harvest than to leave the fruit on the vines. He asked his twenty-two year old son Nicolás, a recent PhD graduate in economics, what to do about such a dilemma. Nicolás advised him not to harvest. Domingo could not follow his son’s advice with a clear conscience and picked anyway. Nicolás still remembers the sadness he felt for his father that year.

Much more information available at:


My Tasting Note

The wine is a fairly dark purple color.  The nose is dark and brooding with earthy blackberries, dark chocolate, vanilla, raspberries, eucalyptus, minerals, spice box, and lavender.  This is medium to full bodied with fairly solid tannins and very nice acidity.  The palate is much brighter than the nose indicated with the fruit leaning more towards the cherry to raspberry side of the fruit spectrum.  There are nice spices and some dried herbs as well and earthy elements and dark chocolate.  The finish has decent length and shows a touch of excess oak.  This would be perfect with a hearty week night dinner on a cold evening or just sipping in front of a fire place.  (89 pts)




2008 Treasure Hunter Wines Cabernet Franc Catch 22 Alexander Valley – $17.81


My comments

As I’ve mentioned here every time I open a bottle, generally the Treasure Hunter line of wines represent outstanding value.  My local wine store has to be one of the bigger sellers of the Treasure Hunter wines in the country.  It seems like they get just about everything they release.  Treasure Hunter isn’t really a winery, more of a wine business.  They buy excess grapes/juice/wine and sell it as is or blend different lots to create their wines.  These are generally very good to outstanding wines that sell for prices well below their level or quality.


I love the Cabernet Franc grape.  At its best it has nice dark berry fruit with some cherry and dried herbs.  If the grapes are over cropped and picked before fully ripe, the dried herbs become the much less pleasing green herbal elements.


Winery history

Treasure Hunter is a label under the 3 Finger Wine Company family of wines.


Each Treasure Hunter wine goes through a pain-staking process of examination from our panel of nine called The De-Vine Nine. Made up of top sommeliers, winemakers and restaurateurs, they are the best of the best and they pour through hundreds of wines before they are deemed worthy.

Each wine is a small one-time offering and represents an extraordinary opportunity to drink seminal wines of great importance.


My Tasting Note

The wine is a deep maroon color.  The very interesting and inviting nose has blackberries, dried herbs, licorice, black cherry, baking spices, cigar tobacco, dark chocolate, cedar, and some violets.  This has medium body with fairly solid tannins and good acidity.  On the palate the wine shows a fair amount of upfront berries and black cherry with dried herbs and spices, slowly a nice hit of dark chocolate creeps in on the backend.  The finish has decent length and leans more toward the dried herbs and dark chocolate with the fruit playing more of a supporting role in the background.  This is a fantastic, young wine for under $20.  I’m going to try and hold off opening another for a few months, but it will be tough.  (92 pts)



Mailing Lists


Turley Wine Cellars

I received a very friendly allocation of the new 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon being released by the winery.  The price, $40, seemed to be very consumer friendly.  The grapes are all from Turley’s Estate Vineyard in St. Helena.  I will be buying a few bottles but won’t be taking my entire over generous allocation.  If you are not on the list but would like to check out the wine, this may be a good time to sign up.




Remember to support your local wine store!




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Notes – I use the “official” Cellar Tracker name for the wines.  I use Cellar Tracker to help manage and organize my cellar.  I highly recommend checking it out at  Loading you existing cellar is a lot less intimidating than it would first appear.  There is a good chance 99% of your wine is already in the system, so you generally only need to enter part of the wine’s name and the system will find it for you.



Prices noted are the prices I paid at the time of purchase.  I don’t shop around to find the best prices, but my local store is usually VERY competitive.  I generally get case discounts, and since I work there part time, I get a 5% discount.  Wines purchased direct from a winery do not include any shipping charges.  None of the prices include the sales tax.



All wines that were sent to me free of charge to sample will be noted and I will show suggested prices when available.