2016 has been a great inaugural year for all of us at Grand Cata, as we shared with you our store opening and the careful (participatory) process of building our curated wine selections with the best representation from Latin America and European heritage countries.
We have tasted more that 1,500 wines this past year, where we always try to share honest wines that express the lesser known terroirs of our countries, that expresses as well what Grand Cata represents in the nation's capital. By investing so much in our selection process, we can pass that value to you in order to share the best and most unique flavors of Latin America.
In order to rank these top picks amidst the feedback of our staff and community, we applied a few ground rules:
1) We considered all wines available at the store in 2016, not necessary those released from the winery this year.
2) We consider the selections to be the best possible representation of their varietal and place.
3) You can still purchase these wines! They are all available at Grand Cata.
With this in mind, we present our top 5 picks from 2016.
5) Bodegas del Desierto, Desierto 25, Cabernet Franc, Patagonia, Argentina 2014, $21
This wine represents a big discovery for Grand Cata: Cabernet Franc from la Patagonia, Argentina. The Bodegas 25 is well-balanced and with very round elegant tannins. The mid palate is full of red fruit, chocolate and spices. An awesome wine and the winner of the staff popular vote at Grand Cata.
4) Valle dell Acate, Zagra Grillo, Sicily 2014, $22
It must have been one of the hotter wine regions of 2016. Sicilian wines are often expressive with mineral components. This grillo, a local varietal, is a textbook example of a quality wine with balanced acidity and herbal tones. A wine that can be enjoyed as an aperitif or dinner companion. We really enjoyed this wine this year. Zagra is a winery that it has been around for generations and its wine represent that history.
3) Viñedo de los Vientos, Angel's Cuvée Ripasso de Tannat, 2007, $50
This wine made of 100% Tannat grapes is the clear example of a powerful and elegant red wine from Canelones, Uruguay where the Río de la Plata meets the Atlantic Ocean. This bottle represents the full potential of wines from the South American continent. It’s made in the style of Ripasso from Valpolicella, Italy, which includes the use of some dry grapes and is fermented in oak barrels. At Grand Cata, we love the tannins, structure and the smooth finish of this tinto. This is a must to try for the holiday season.
2) Bodegas Carrau, "Sust" Brut Nature, Uruguay, 2012, $25
Another favorite from Uruguay and the favorite sparkling wine tasted this year by Grand Cata. This bottle from Bodegas Carrau is an homage to Juan Carrau Sust, one of the pioneers winemakers of Uruguay. Made with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, this bottle carries the best of the Old World traditional method or champenoise with the awesome fruit of the sandy soils of Uruguay which give a layer of complexity to their wines.
1) Matorral Pais, Maule, Chile 2010, $36
This natural wine from Maule Valley in Chile was the biggest and most delightful surprise of the year. A limited production from a centennial family-owned winery brought the unexpected to our glasses. Light bodied, fruity, juicy, with firm tannins. The Matorral’s expression of the Pais grape showed us red cherries, plums and even some tropical fruits. The wine is alive and a unique example of the new Chilean wines.
Pais grape was brought by the Spanish Missionaries to the Americas back in the XVI mostly to be used in the Mass. It was the most popular grape in the continent before the introduction of the now more traditional grapes such as Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot. After many centuries of almost anonymity, Pais is coming back.