What we’re drinking: Wines from Argentina’s Zuccardi family
Where they’re from: Valle de Uco in Argentina, a plush valley in the shadow of the Andes mountains
Why we’re drinking these: The Zuccardis are somewhat of an icon in Argentina. While not the oldest winery around, the family’s work is almost single-handedly redefining Argentinian Malbec.
Over the last few decades, Argentinian Malbecs have somehow become known as cheap-and-cheerful reds; jammy, concentrated and inexpensive in consumers’ minds. Good ones are anything but. Producers like the Zuccardis are working hard to break down that reputation, showing that Malbec can be a singular, spectacular representation of place in a bottle — world-class wines without an old-world price tag. (Intrigued? Act fast — the winery was just named the “New World Winery of the Year” by Wine Enthusiast.)
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The winery’s current head, third-generation Sebastian Zuccardi, has put a huge focus on two factors of winemaking: terroir and sustainability. He asks questions like, what would Malbec taste like if it was planted on the side of the mountain? What if we go higher? What if we invest in soil analysis? This kind of wacky, what-if approach to winemaking has given the winery an excellent, in-depth perception of the Valle de Uco’s wines.
And as such, their Malbecs have star quality: hyper-precise and wildly complex. The winery’s Fina Canal Uco Malbec is one of the few new world wines to enter La Place de Bordeaux, the historic fine wine distribution system that few non-French wines have been able to breach.
While Malbec is the star, the whites are also intriguing. As the Mendoza valley heats up, they’re climbing further and further into the Andes Mountains, looking for those cool nights and chill climates that give the perfect acidity and structure to white grapes. Regardless of whether you’re drinking red or white, they’re wildly energetic, complex, and nuanced wines from an utterly unique locale.
How they taste:
- Zuccardi Concreto Malbec: Made high up in the Andes, Zuccardi uses big concrete tanks (hence the name) to ferment the wines, a move that Sebastian believes lets the Malbec shine — oak barrels, he’ll tell you, mask all the good bits of the grape. Expect vibrant fig, plum and fresh raspberry. ($34)
- Zuccardi Tito: The wine is a liquid hat tip to the patriarch of the Zuccardi family, Sebastian’s grandfather Alberto. It combines some of Argentina’s traditional grape varieties that have fallen out of favor in the region: Sangiovese, Tempranillo, and Bonarda. Stunning, elegant, and rich, with savory plum-black cherry notes. ($38)
- Santa Julia El Burro: While you certainly shouldn’t skip the Zuccari label, the winery’s Santa Juli label, named after Julia Zuccardi, offers incredible value — think plummy, inky weeknight Malbec. ($21)
Fun fact: Wine has been made in South America for over 500 years. In the 15th century, Spanish conquistadors landed in Argentina and Chile, setting up homes, schools, and businesses. Then they realized it was costly to ship wine down from Spain, so they planted grape vines across the country.
Where to buy: See the links above and also your favorite local wine shop.
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