WINE OF THE MONTH
2018 Adrianna Vineyard Mundus Bacillus Terrae, Catena Zapata
“The magic of this wine lies in its uniqueness, both in terms of style and as an approach to the variety. It is the questions it raises that make it truly compelling.” Joaquin Hidalgo
With a plethora of praise from the critics, our November Wine of the Month is the ethereal 2018 Adrianna Vineyard Mundus Bacillus Terrae, from Catena Zapata. Consistently scored in the high 90s, the 2018 vintage is no exception and “Stops you in your tracks” (Jane Anson 98 points).
This is a beautiful 100% Malbec, structured by good acidity and well-built tannins which sees about 10 months ageing in French oak, and “has to be among the finest vintages for the Mundus Bacillus Terrae” according to Wine Advocate (98 points).
Named after Nicolás Catena Zapata’s youngest daughter, the Adrianna Vineyard is located at almost 5,000 feet elevation in Mendoza. The soils in this 1.4 hectare parcel are filled with scattered limestone and marine deposits that covered the region millions of years ago. The limestone layers are well-drained and particularly rich in rhizobacteria, the microorganisms that help vine roots withstand stress and absorb nutrients. Thus, the name “mundus bacillus terrae” or “elegant microbes of the earth”.
Catena Zapata is one of Argentina’s most iconic wineries. Founded and led by Nicolás Catena, today it is run by Laura Catena, with a focus on the oenological excellence which began almost forty years ago.
“The 2018 Adrianna Vineyard Mundus Bacillus Terrae started with a marked creamy and lactic note, reflecting a very young and tender wine that started with a lot of malic acid. It has lower alcohol and higher acidity than the other two Adrianna bottlings; it’s vibrant and lively, nicely textured and surprisingly fresh. The creamy and lactic note disappeared after some time in the glass, giving way to fresher notes, almost citrus. They have also done a selection of individual plants, discarding some plants in lower parts, and the wine has gained in precision and freshness. They used a high percentage of full clusters and fermented it in concrete with indigenous yeasts and matured it in used oak barrels for 18 months. In 2018, the three Adrianna bottlings have more defined character; the differences are more marked than in a year like 2017. This has to be among the finest vintages for the Mundus Bacillus Terrae. 4,800 bottles were filled in November 2019.”
98 points – Luis Gutierrez (Wine Advocate)
“Let the aromatics slowly unfurl out of the glass, really give it time. Crushed raspberries and tobacco, fresh flowers, salty crackers, oyster shell. The weight, the texture, the acidity are all in balance, playing off each other. Stops you in your tracks. A spring frost reduced yields by about 20%, fermented with 50% whole cluster between concrete vats and oak casks. 7400 cases produced. Wine Director: Alejandro Vigil.”
98 points – Jane Anson
This is a really deep, decadent red, showing incredibly rich black soil, black olives and violets. Full body and rich tannins that exude power and intensity. Lots of white pepper and black fruit in the aftertaste. Extremely persistent. This is a bottle for the cellar. Try after 2024.
98 points – James Suckling
Mundus Bacillus Terrae is a parcel of Malbec whose name pays homage to the rhizobacteria that live in symbiosis with the vines at 1,450 meters in the Adrianna vineyard. Three-quarters of the wine is fermented in concrete and the rest in foudres, followed by 18 months in French oak. The nose features violets and lavender with subdued notes of red fruit, but the wine only properly comes out in the mouth. It is pure texture with nervous tension and ripe but gentle, very Malbec-ish tannins that don’t impede the flow. The magic of this wine lies in its uniqueness, both in terms of style and as an approach to the variety. It is the questions it raises that make it truly compelling.
97 points – Joaquin Hidalgo (Vinous)