The great wines of the world are ‘vin de terroir’, wines that speak of the place where the grapes were grown — ultimately, that’s what fine wine is all about. And there is no better place to look for wines that express the character and land of Argentina than the legendary estate, Zuccardi. Situated at the foot of the Andes in Mendoza, Zuccardi produce blockbuster after blockbuster, successfully cultivating vineyards at the highest elevation in the region and one of the most phenomenal winegrowing locations in the world, the Valle de Uco.

“…DON’T STRIVE FOR PERFECT WINES, BUT WINES THAT EXPRESS THE PLACE, THE REGION”. – SEBASTIÁN ZUCCARDI

Desert potential

At its core, Zuccardi marries the most romantic notions of wine with focused, science-led pragmatism. It all began in 1950, when founder Alberto ‘Titio’ Zuccardi arrived in Mendoza from the Tucuman province as an engineer. Working to build an irrigation system and bring new life to this otherwise dry region, in 1963 he realised the potential of the land (and his system) and planted a vineyard in Maipu. Thus came the first foray of the Zuccardi family into winemaking and five years later, he built his first winery.

After several decades of bulk winemaking, Alberto took a different direction alongside his son Jose, shifting production towards wines of improved quality and with a new ambition to access the export market. But it was in 2002 when Alberto’s grandson Sebastian joined the family business that the Zuccardi name began its most exciting chapter. Buying high-altitude grapes from the Valle de Uco, the potential of the wines changed dramatically and the family knew they had something truly exciting on their hands.

Scientific precision meets soulful winemaking

Today Sebastian is at the helm and his success is well-documented with countless accolades, including Decanter highlighting him as ‘South America’s most exciting winemaker’ and their naming of the Valle de Uco, ‘The World’s Best Vineyard’. Supported by a young team of agricultural engineers and enologists, Sebastian established a research and development area in 2009 dedicated to studying the terroir and variables of the region. One of the main objectives of the research project is to preserve the characteristics and diversity of each micro-region of the Valle de Uco, the findings from which influences their approach both in the vineyard and the winery. But another key byproduct is its position as a seedbed for budding young wine professionals looking to train and develop in a highly ambitious, knowledgeable environment.

A mountainous backdrop to the most impressive of wineries

In their vineyards, a combination of multiple microclimates, altitudes and soil types creates a patchwork of terroirs. The influence of Burgundy is clear to see, with Zuccardi striving to faithfully interpret each parcel and bottle its individual identity in every wine. The immense Andes mountain range that surrounds the vineyards takes everything to the extreme; some vines grow at 1,400m above sea level, in a cool yet intensely sunny micro-climate, and in highly porous and ancient alluvial soils.

Zuccardi’s undeniably awe-inspiring winery, inaugurated in 2016, is a tribute to the mountains which define the region’s climate, soils and resulting wines. The winery was built using natural materials from the land and its tanks are the result of years of experimentation in pursuit of the ideal vessel. With tapered necks, these cement tanks allow the team to work more naturally with the grape juices and wines. Using epoxy-free cement tanks as part of the vinification process builds tension in their wines, while 500L used oak barrels allows the development of the palate and integrates tannins.

From Burgundian style Chardonnays to tiny production Malbec from single vineyard plots, Zuccardi is championing the concept of terroir in Argentina as loudly as possible. The wines have exceptional intensity, balance, freshness and a core of minerality we so value in these mountainous expressions. And they are most certainly one of the best kept secrets of our teams’ cellars.

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