Zuccardi, journey to the center of the earth
It is hard to find a winery whose focus and vision are expressed in such a clear way.
The Zuccardi family has been working with Argentine wine for generations and has been able to adjust the compass to head to the horizon at every epoch. They were pioneers in working the concept of varietal, back in the early 90s. Today they are avant-garde in the tireless search for wines with a sense of place.
“Places and people, people and places,” they pray.
From some time ago till today, this phrase has been their guide. It speaks, of course, of the effect of both the geographical and human factor have in the final result: the wines. They consider it so important that after more than 50 years with a winery in Maipu, they decided to build another one in Paraje Altamira. Even though it would imply many difficulties to produce at the origin, there would also be all the advantages that compel in the process.
After taking more than 1,000 trucks of stones to prepare the ground, they built a winery specially conceived to mimic the landscape, the terrain, and its dynamics. A fully integrated winery that, among other things, has natural light all year round in every corner: Piedra Infinita.
On this aspect, Juan Ignacio Guzmán (Marketing Manager of Zuccardi), expands the aforementioned by stating that “the construction of the winery helps us to contribute to a more sustainable wine practice. The winery is designed to work most of the day with natural light, which allows us to minimize electricity consumption; its concrete walls fulfill the function of a thermal insulator. The movements of liquid are caused by gravity and the concrete-designed vessels (noble material that allows us a natural control of the temperature of the wine). Year by year we continue to work on these aspects to increase our sustainable viticulture practices, also in the vineyard”.
We talked about people, and there is a fact that perfectly reflects this aspect of the winery.
Our visit was not a regular one. Our agenda was closed for our last day in Mendoza, and the flight schedule did not allow us to coordinate in advance those last hours. But we were finally able to make it to Piedra Infinita thanks to Juan Ignacio’s enormous predisposition.
Friday 4 pm. In a regular office at that time, there are already many who have already left and those who stayed, are there only physically because their mind is in the weekend already. What is certain is that nearly all the bosses are gone. Not it in this case… When the large portico that welcomes us opens, we meet Julia Zuccardi (the wine “Santa Julia” was named after her, which is one of the traditional iconic Argentine wines), her one-year-old daughter and the grandfather, Jose “Pepe” Zuccardi. Some minutes later we surprised Sebastián Zuccardi among the cement eggs. People. People and places. Places and people.
Sebastián Zuccardi is the one who commands the oenological vision of the winery.
“We believe the future is in the place. To highlight the particularities of each of these areas is what makes us unique and unrepeatable.”
A man who seeks with passion the identification and differentiation of each place, of each soil, of each square meter. A soil surgeon.
They insist the start of the visit must be in the vineyard, where everything begins. And we understand why. Two profiles of soil at a distance of one and a half meters from one another show test pits that differ almost in every centimeter.
To know these profiles is to be able to interpret each micro-region with its peculiarities and characteristics.
“We perform an exhaustive study of the soils to be able to determine all the types of soil present in each of our vines, we work them in a differentiated way, according to the necessities of each, and to obtain thus a faithful expression of the origin of these grapes.”, says Juan Ignacio.
We get back to the winery where we make a tasting of the current harvest. Freshness, nuances, and complexity. A portfolio that has an enviable physiognomy, every line with its concept, with its ascent, its message, and it’s logic. In general, we speak of fresh wines, very drinkable, vertical but complex, with minimum or no oak aging, caring about the structure of the grape and making a stand out above all… the soil above all.
What we tasted, with some portfolio context (some of the descriptions are powered by www.zuccardiwines.com):
- Zuccardi Q. A tier that has special history and value for the winery, since it is synonym of ‘quality’ to them (that is the Q) and it was this wine (Tempranillo 1997, in this case) which turned to be part of the quality revolution in Argentina during the ’90s. Nowadays, the tier has Malbec, Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay, whose grapes come from recognized micro-regions in the Uco Valley and selected old vineyards. It has a delicate wood component and emphasis on fruit expression.
- Fósil. An extraordinary and unique Chardonnay from San Pablo.
- Polígonos. These are wines from selected vineyards that reveals the differences in altitude, soil, and climate that characterize the subregions of San Pablo, Paraje Altamira, and Gualtallary.
- Zuccardi Serie A. Great focus on this tier: recognized varieties of Argentina, from their best-paired terroirs: Malbec in Uco Valley, Torrontés in Salta and Bonarda in Santa Rosa, for example.
- Aluvional. It is a selection of the best soils of alluvial origin in the Uco Valley, Mendoza. The particularities of each plot were disclosed by the variety that best represents the region: Malbec.
- José Zuccardi. It is the evolution of Zuccardi Zeta and it presents a traditional style that respects the wine’s identity from Zeta’s first harvest in 2002.“This wine represents my father’s passion and conviction.”, says Sebastián Zuccardi.
- Finca Piedra Infinita. One of the members of the ‘Finca’ tier (‘Los Membrillos’ and ‘Canal Uco’ are the others), which has its focus on a deeper step in identifying the best micro-regions of Argentina.
In our talk with Sebastian, who is exceptionally passionate, we are clear about why he was nominated last year to the 2018 Wine Star Award for “Innovator of the Year.” He is constantly thinking on how to make things in a different way, always with the focus on achieving more pure and direct expressions of the soil.
Perhaps, that is the spirit which made this winery be in the top of mind of wineries to follow during the last decades.
In 2005, Sebastian Zuccardi lead the development of the new stage of the wines of the Zuccardi expansion into the Uco Valley. Since 2008, the winery has an area of Research and Development dedicated to the study of the terroir and the different variables that affect wine production. In March of 2016, he opened the Zuccardi winery Uco Valley, with the premise of producing wines with identity, through the continuous exploration of the different terroirs of the Uco Valley, Mendoza. (1)
A third-generation family winemaker, Zuccardi manages one of the hardest-working wineries in Mendoza, Argentina, Familia Zuccardi. He’s pushed for fresher wines largely from the Valle de Uco, and he’s spent more than $10 million to construct, equip and open Bodega Piedra Infinita in the Paraje Altamira appellation in 2016. The winery is unique, as it uses no small oak barrels, just cement and some large Austrian foudres. His wines are cutting-edge, lively and full of focus, which has helped set a new course for Mendoza that others are following. To top it off, Zuccardi is highly respected and actively involved in the community. (2)