Wine and Art of the Day: Aldo Luongo and Catena Wines

Every minute of every day we are surrounded by art. Art displayed in the literal sense, in paintings, sculptures, photographs, etchings, but also art in the movies we love, the food we eat, the wine we drink. Every meal a chef creates for hungry patrons highlights a chef’s passion for the culinary arts, just as every bottle of wine melds the hard work, commitment, and unending pursuit to create something perfect, unique, and delicious that every winemaker strives for.

Malbec vines in Argentina

And, like every piece of fine art, every bottle of wine has a story. The story is told with a sense of place, revealing their personal history and the history of the land. As every painter begins with a canvas, every vintner and winemaker starts with the soil. The paints for an artist are the grapes for a winemaker, the brush is a thief, the creation comes through inspiration and imagination, and with unyielding desire, dedication, and the key element that drives us all, passion, a little bit of magic occurs.

Of Italian heritage, Argentine artist Aldo Luongo had two passions growing up, football and art. He moved to America to play professional soccer, then moving to New York City to pursue art full-time when his athletic career ended. The influence of his home country and Italian heritage, particularly his paintings of “The Hawk” reveal an impressionistic style embracing a life well-lived.

Mendoza, Argentina

With humble beginnings similar to many of Argentina’s beloved wineries, Nicola Catena began Catena Zapata in 1902 after fleeing a famine plagued Italy looking for a better future. He found it in high elevation limestone soils in the foothills of the Andes Mountains of Argentina. He planted his first Malbec vineyard in Mendoza in the same year, focusing on the soil, understanding great wine is made in the vineyard.

But it was his grandson, third-generation winemaker, Nicolás Catena who thrust Argentinian wine into the modern era. A widely traveled academic economist, he learned from his exposure in the 1970s both to great Bordeaux and the vast promise of Napa wines. In the early 1980s, Catena began to plant the right varieties in the right location, specifically Malbec in cooler, higher sites, creating Grand Cru quality wine from Argentina and thrusting premium wines from Argentina onto the world map.

From a blend of fruit from the family’s high elevation vineyards, and today managed by the fourth-generation of the family, Laura Catena, Catena Malbec ($24) is textured, concentrated, and dense. Floral aromas of lilac and violets lift from the glass, followed by classic Morello cherry, plum, and blackberry, melding with toasted vanilla, clove, and cinnamon, the perfect pairing with the romantic works of Aldo Luongo.

Lahaina Galleries has represented Luongo’s work for years and in honor of his 80th birthday, we have teamed for a special wine and art pairing. The video linked here includes more on the artist, the wine, and our special offering. Comment or email me if you would like more information. #Cheers