Tom Jones of the Whalley Wine Shop discovers “mountain wines”

Following virtual tasting with the winemaker Zuccardi from Mendoza, Argentina, Tom brings a selection of the best to the wine lovers in the North West

Thursday, 15th October 2020, 12:30 pm

Family-run winery that is the best of Argentina

The wine industry is inextricably linked to international travel, so how can you discover new wines, meet winemakers, taste and buy wines without meeting in person. Step forward ‘Zoom Tastings’ and other conferencing apps.

In August we had an excellent ‘Virtual’ tasting with the winemaker Zuccardi from Mendoza, Argentina. This allowed us to discover their fantastic range of ‘mountain wines’ and bring a selection of the best to the wine lovers in the North West!

A vineyard in Mendoza, Argentina. The region is home to Familia Zuccardi, a family-run winemaker Picture: PANSSO/PIXABAY

Familia Zuccardi, as the full name suggests, is a family run business now headed up by its third generation. Their history begins in 1963 when an ambitious engineer running water and irrigation projects planted a vineyard to prove his new irrigation system worked.

Alberto Zuccardi got enmeshed in the beauty of producing wines in what had previously been a harsh desert climate and the Zuccardi story began...

In 1976 Alberto’s son, Jose, joined the family business and in the early 90’s Jose was one of the first to begin shipping Argentinian wines to curious UK wine lovers. As time passed, Jose’s son Sebastian joined the business and is now one of the most respected and influential Argentinian winemakers.

Sebastian moved the company into an era of producing exciting and dynamic wines that challenge the norm with an ethos “not to strive for perfect wines but rather wines that express the place and the region of origin”.

Tom Jones of the Whalley Wine Shop

What emerged while discussing the wines was the enormous effect the Andes mountains have on the style of the wines produced. The sheer scale of where these vineyards are planted is staggering.

The grapes used in the Jose Zuccardi 2015, a fabulous top end Malbec with a dash of Cabernet Sauvignon, are grown between 1100m and 1230m above sea level. To give some context the highest point in England, Scafell Pike, is just 978m above sea level…

Altitude reduces temperature by about 1 degree Celsius per 100m so rather than cooking in South American heat the grapes receive a much more moderate warmth but all the sunlight exposure they need. Sunlight without heat creates ripeness, but maintains freshness and acidity in the grapes.

So to the selection of wines we have bought:

Zuccardi Valles Torrontes 2019 – Fast becoming Argentina’s signature white grape, Torrontes is descended from Muscat.

This example has a wonderful floral nose and combines soft peachy and orange fruit with a rounded smooth texture with nice clean and tight chalky note underneath to add complexity. One of the best Torrontes we’ve ever tasted in the shop. Normally £13.99 now just £11.49 a bottle.

Zuccardi Fosil Chardonnay 2018 – One of Zuccardi’s premium whites and produced at a staggering 1400m above sea level! A completely unoaked Chardonnay, the wine is fermented in concrete tanks to preserve freshness and is fermented using natural yeasts that occur in the beautiful and extreme vineyard in San Pablo.

The result is an elegant example of Chardonnay that can easily be compared to a 1er Cru Chablis. Beautifully clean citrus fruit shines through, interlaced with a pure mineral complexity that delivers wonderful prettiness underpinned by staggering elegance.

Produced in tiny quantities, only 24 bottles available. Normally £49.99 currently only £39.99 a bottle.

Los Olivos Malbec 2018 – The starting point in Zuccardi’s Malbec range and a real crowd pleaser. This one has beautiful vibrant, inky, purple colour with lots of big juicy fruit notes on the nose. Ripe plum, blueberry and blackberry create a nice soft, juicy, medium-full bodied wine with soft rich tannins and just a little lick of spice and pepper in the finish from six months of

oak ageing. It’s a big, juicy, honest Malbec.

Normally £11.49 now just £8.99 a bottle.

Jose Zuccardi 2015 – Named by Sebastian in honour of his father a superb example of top level Malbec - 95% Malbec and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon from two of the best vineyards. Here the darker, more serious fruit is dominant. Blackberry and blackcurrant combine with beautiful richer notes from the oak barrels. Hints of dark silky chocolate and roasted coffee combine with more earthy hints of soft leather and dark spice. A wonderfully complex, rich and full bodied wine perfect for any Malbec fan. Normally £34.99 now only £26.99 a bottle or £150 for a case of six – perfect to hide away for Christmas!