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Average critic rating : 96.0 points
The 2012 Finca Piedra Infinita is from new vineyards in Altamira, a specific zone within La Consulta in the south of the Uco Valley, selected from a very calcareous zone with lots of chalky stones. It is the most mineral and serious wine I’ve tasted from Zuccardi, with big bones and a serious, balanced and subtle character that is elegant and sharp. The finish is long, vertical, vibrant and... well, mineral is the only word. Of course, this is a stylistic preference, but this is my favorite (and it also happened tasting the unoaked and unbottled 2013 blind). Around 2,500 bottles were produced as they really decide vine by vine which grapes go into this wine. A world class red. Bravo! Drink now-2025. I first met with Sebastian Zuccardi, third generation in the wine business, in Madrid and tasted through a portfolio of impressive wines. Sebastian, is now in charge of winemaking of the top range of wines of Familia Zuccardi. They produce around 20 million liters of wine per year, and the big volume comes from Santa Julia (18 million) mostly from East Mendoza, and Zuccardi has two million liters where the focus is the Uco Valley. He’s young and energetic, really passionate about wine. He has discovered cement vats and he’s building a new winery in Altamira with no inox. He’s also moving away from 225-liter barriques and going to 2,500-liter foudres and 500-liter barrels, and some wines are matured in cement. Tasting through different wines from Uco, all of them fermented in cement without any aging in oak, was a true revelation of the terroirs of the valley. Most impressive was the cuvee he calls “super-calcareous” from selected plants in a specific vineyard they have identified as having more chalk. They do this with a kind of electronic carpet that is dragged across the vineyards and paints a computer picture of the conductivity of the soil. I tasted this blind next to a wine from the same vineyards, but from individual vines where clay content is higher. The wines were as different as night and day. Sebastian’s face lit up when I told him what I saw in the wines (which to me was crystal clear), since it was exactly what he thought of them, and what I think he was hoping I’d say. I was really impressed by the study of soils and the work he’s doing with the help of the Chilean terroir expert Pedro Parra and Italian consultant Alberto Antonini. Additionally, I had the chance to visit the new winery they are building in Altamira and meet his father Jose “Pepe” Zuccardi, one of the legendary names in Mendoza wine. There I tasted through more of their labels. The new winery is most impressive where all vats are made of cement, in different shapes and sizes. It is a winery built to the measure of their vineyards. They are going one step further, really taken by how terroir shines through the wines when they are fermented in cement without any lining (no epoxy). As Sebastian said, “We are a family company founded in 1963 by my grandfather Alberto Zuccardi. He began planting vines in Maipu (province of Mendoza). He was a civil engineer who was developing an irrigation system built with cement. He bought a vineyard to show the system to potential customers and of course, he got hooked on wine. Fifty years late his grandson is going back to the future, vinifying all his wines in cement, the same material that his grandfather used for his invention – closing the circle.” Most of the wines are from the Uco Valley, where they have five different vineyards. We also visited some of them and saw the different soil compositions. They are doing amazing research and development work, investigating soils and vinification, understanding their vineyards, and generating their own compost to bring their soils alive. Sebastian is making some of the country’s most exciting wines by placing a renewed emphasis on terroir and balance. Zuccardi is one fundamental name in the future of Argentine wine. The Serie A wines try to show the three main varietals grown in the zone that is better suited for each, Torrontes from Cafayate (Salta), Bonarda from Santa Rosa in the east of Mendoza and Malbec from the Uco Valley. The Aluvional wines are always produced with Malbec from the Uco Valley vinified in egg-shaped concrete vats without epoxy lining; I also had the chance to taste different 2013s from La Consulta, Vista Flores (extremely floral), Altamira (calcareous) and Gualtallary (calcareous). I was also served blind two different wines from Altamira, from the same vineyards but with different soils and the difference in aroma and texture was amazing. Again, 2013 is a vintage to look out for in the future and I look forward to tasting the bottled wines from this promising vintage. Apr 2014, www.robertparker.com, Drink: 2014-2025
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