Some of the chilliest reaches of Argentina’s sun-soaked Mendoza province can be found in the Uco Valley. There, a dazzling desert landscape of open skies and sprawling vineyards complements a towering display of snow-capped Andes Mountains. The high altitude does wonders for the grapes grown here — Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Tempranillo, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and more — and cultivates a vigorous acidity and character within them that consistently outperforms the fruit grown closer to sea level. This, combined with the area’s diverse soils, helps to set the stage for world-class winemaking.
That’s precisely what lured the Zuccardi family to the Uco Valley around the turn of the new millennium. Three generations of the Zuccardi winemaking family have played pivotal roles in shaping Mendoza’s rising wine fortunes, and with it, the global renown of Argentinian wine. But it’s the latest generation — driven by Sebastián Zuccardi— that saw the potential for crafting even more complex, nuanced wines with grapes from the Uco Valley.
In 2002, Sebastián led the push to buy up local grapes. His goal? To produce elegant wines that reflect back the beauty of the places where they were grown. The Zuccardis were so impressed by the grapes’ quality that the family proceeded to plant five of its own vineyards across the Uco Valley, in various sub-regions: Paraje Altamira, Gualtallary, and San Pablo. Its home base winery at Finca Piedra Infinita, a rounded cement-and-stone structure that juts forth from the earth like a nascent mountain range, opened its doors in 2016 and soon won The World’s Best Vineyards in 2019 & 2020.
Today, many are familiar with the Zuccardi Q Malbec, and it remains the most widely known wine in the portfolio –– but there’s so much more to the family story. Sebastián’s imaginative, terroir-focused philosophy is on full display in an array of exciting Zuccardi offerings that span at least a decade and belong in any serious wine collector’s cellar.
Looking to stock yours? Consider these four elevated Zuccardi ranges.
Named for the Spanish word for “polygon,” the Polígonos range is a collection of wines that represent different villages in the Uco Valley. They’re made with the grapes that best encapsulate each village — its soil, climate, and culture. When viewed on a map, lines drawn around each village create a “weird geometry as diverse as the sides of a polygon,” says Sebastián Zuccardi. Standouts include the Poligonos Paraje Altamira Malbec, made with 100 percent Malbec grapes, and entirely in concrete, without oak influence. The soil in Paraje Altamira comes from the alluvial fan of the Tunuyán River, which produces a sandy loam that sits atop layers of large stones of gravel covered in chalk. The resulting wine is warm and dry, with exceptional color and freshness. Also great is the Poligonos San Pablo Cabernet Franc, a racy Cabernet Franc. Plum and berry tones are full and fresh on the nose and palate, while flavors of black fruit, herbs, tea, and tomato linger on the smooth finish.
A love letter to the Zuccardi family, the Icon Selection honors influential figures who’ve helped shape the company’s past, present, and future. These selections include experimental varietals and styles and also pay homage to those who helped cultivate the family business. High-ranking among them is Wine Spectator’s Top 100 José Zuccardi Malbec. As the second generation of the Zuccardi Family, José Zuccardi is who really put the family winery on the worldwide map. At a time when Argentina was just beginning to export its wines, José was at the helm of the winery and exported to the U.K., followed by the U.S. and other countries. His great passion and dedication to hard work is shown through every bottle, and has now been passed on to the third generation of the family. José Zuccardi has been recognized worldwide for his impact on Argentine wine and is now the current sitting president of the Viticulture Association of Argentina.
There’s also the Concreto Paraje Altamira Malbec, in which a lively, intense purple shines from the glass. Rich aromas of black plum, black raspberry, cassis, lilacs, cocoa powder, and dried herbs dominate the nose. Medium-full- bodied, the wine is beautifully structured with tannins housing black cherry and an elegant raspberry finish.
The soils of the Uco Valley are alluvial, meaning they’re filled with a diverse blend of sediment and minerals left behind over millions of years by flowing waters. In such plains, the composition of a single plot of land can be dramatically different from another just 10 feet over, a feature that Zuccardi embraces in its Aluvional collection. “Our challenge is to reveal that identity with transparency,” said Sebastián. “That is why we chose Malbec as a vehicle of expression.” Try the Zuccardi Aluvional Paraje Altamira Malbec, which features aromas of blackberry, cherry, and plum beside notes of fresh herbs and violets. Juicy with a lively acidity, the bottling boasts a mineral texture and elegant tannins.
The wines in the Fincas range all derive from a single finca, which is the Spanish word for “farm.” Much like a “single vineyard,” these wines come from a very specific place. A favorite among them is the Zuccardi Finca Piedra Infinita Malbec, which arrives from 3,500 feet up in the Andes and is Zuccardi’s proud 100-pointer. The wine has reached a truly stratospheric level of precision, symmetry, and elegance and deserves a place on any dinner table.
Zuccardi wines are available nationally at Wine Access and online at Wine.com.
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This article is sponsored by Zuccardi.