Located at the foot of the Andes, in a place of unique natural beauty, the vineyards of Zuccardi Valle de Uco are genuinely a pearl of Argentine winemaking. In the winery, run by the Zuccardi family for three generations, they make sure to produce true terroir wines of high quality from malbec, bonard, torontes, as well as from international varieties such as cabernet franc, chardonnay and sauvignon blanc.
ROMANCING THE STONE
Just south of the Argentinian capital, Mendoza, the Zuccardi family’s stone winery stands majestically amid the desert of the Uco Valley, made from the very land it inhabits and a fitting symbol for the giant leaps in progress that these winemakers have been making since 1963. Particularly so since coming under the direction of third generation Sebastián, who has pushed the vineyards further up into the Andes, his wines becoming ever-purer expressions of the soils that created them. In 2009, he established a research and development centre in order to analyse each step of the production process – from vineyard to winery – with painstaking precision, making the most of the wealth of soil types, microclimates and altitudes at his disposal. These efforts are undoubtedly showing in the intense yet finessed ranges being made at the new winery, designed by architects Tom Hughes, Fernando Raganato and Eugenia Mora using only natural, local materials both inside and out.
Some years before 1950, engineer Alberto ‘Tito’ Zuccardi arrived in Mendoza from Tucumán, the small province in northwest Argentina where his Italian grandparents had settled many years before. He began experimenting with new irrigation systems because, back then as is the case today, water management is key due to its scarcity. In 1963 he planted a vineyard in the Maipú region, aiming to show other neighbouring farmers how his irrigation system worked, not realising at the time that this would be the beginning of his life’s passion.
Today Bodega Zuccardi Valle de Uco is led by Sebastián Zuccardi. Following in the footsteps of his Grandfather, Alberto and his Father, José, Sebastián’s aim is to create wines of great purity, firmly rooted in the terroirs of the Uco Valley, in the shadow of the Andes Mountains. The family makes wines that express their origin, the essence of their soils and the extreme climate conditions of the vineyards in the heart of every glass.
The construction of the winery began in 2013 and it was inaugurated in 2016. The building is a tribute to the mountains, which define the region’s climate and soils. The construction was done with natural materials, stones from the land: round, white, chalky.
Walking through the winery, you’ll spy the concrete eggs carefully crafted to resemble amphorae, used for fermentation and contributing substantially to the wines’ style. Various ranges encompass single site and single varietal expressions with Malbecs leading the pack (the ‘Finca Piedra Infinita’ cuvée especially) and Cabernet Sauvignons not far behind, plus Cabernet Franc, Tempranillo, Chardonnay and more.
The vineyards in the Uco Valley at the foot of the 6,961-metre-high Aconcagua (Andes) cover a total of around 850 hectares of vines with different soil types and microclimates. They range in altitude from 620 metres (Santa Rosa) to 1,100 metres (Altamira). There are six estates (fincas). These are, from south to north, Piedra Infinita (with the main house), Los Membrillos, Canal Uco, La Ribera, Vista Flores and San Pablo. Due to the hot and dry climate with extremely clean air, there are hardly any pests or vine diseases. Due to an annual rainfall of only 20 cm, artificial irrigation by means of drip irrigation is necessary.
The red wine varieties Malbec (Cot), Bonarda (Douce Noire), Tempranillo, Syrah, Ancellotta and Caladoc, as well as the white wine varieties Chardonnay, Viognier, various Torrontés varieties and Verdejo are cultivated and processed. The vineyards are cultivated in an environmentally friendly way.