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, completed in 2016 and designed by architects Tom Hughes, Fernando Raganato and Eugenia Mora using only natural, local materials both inside and out.
Guests receive a full introduction to the diverse terroirs of the family’s Uco Valley sites, including the flagship ‘Piedra Infinita’ vineyard on the alluvial plains of the Tunuyán River in Altamira; named after the seemingly infinite amount of stones that had to be removed in order to plant vines there in the first place, it is the source of an multi-award-winning Malbec that will make you rethink this Argentinian grape through its restraint, delicacy and tension.
It also gives its name to the onsite restaurant, Piedra Infinita Cocina, where you can enjoy a four-course lunch of regional produce served with panache, floor-to-ceiling windows filling the zen-like room with the awe-inspiring Andean landscape.
Tastings take place either next to the barrels or in the circular room underneath the shining metal dome that signals this winemaking activity from afar whilst reflecting the brilliant sunshine.
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. Some are matured in large old foudres for gentle oak influence and all display freshness and fragrance along with concentration. 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.