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2019 Finca Piedra Infinita, Zuccardi

At Farr Vintners we have fairly conservative tastes, and we are possibly a little too sceptical in our attitude towards wines that we don’t know as well as we should. A sample tasted in the office last week - and finished off at home by one of the team later that evening - has got at least one of us thinking that we might miss the occasional trick.

Zuccardi Valle de Uco was founded in the 1960s by Alberto Zuccardi, the first man to plant vines in the Maipu region of Mendoza. An engineer by training, he designed an irrigation system for the region, which is almost desert-dry. The family company became one of the most important wine producers in Argentina under the stewardship of his son, José Alberto, and now his grandson, Sebastian Zuccardi is at the helm.  Whilst they continue to produce wines at every level, it is the wines at the very top that are now the focus.

The sample that got us thinking was the latest release – the 2019 – of Finca Piedra Infinita. This vineyard represents the pinnacle of what Zuccardi produce.  Planted in 2009, it is at an altitude of 1,100 metres. The alluvial soil is shallow, with a sandy surface horizon and a subsoil with large lime-covered stones from the alluvial fan of the Tunuyán River. The winery is situated in the heart of the vineyard.

Every part of the viticultural cycle, from pruning to harvesting, is based on soil type – terroir is what these wines are all about. In the astonishing winery, the philosophy is of minimum intervention – the aim is purely to make the most precise expression of the vineyard as is possible. The wines are austere, focussed and precise.

100% Malbec, the 2019 Finca Piedra Infinita is a remarkable wine; not only one of the best Malbecs we have tasted, but also easily one of the best wines from Argentina. Straight out of the bottle it was clear that this was a pristine, pure and focussed wine; with air it only got better and better, and what was most remarkable after eight hours was the sheer perfection of the juice. It is rare to taste a wine that is completely without flaw. Just 6,000 bottles were made.

All this comes at a price and, at £285 per 3 bottle OWC, this is not a cheap wine by any means. It might, though, just be worth it.

Quiet complexity that needs time in the glass. While it is brooding and deep, there is also a perfumed, floral and herbal aspect that makes it so attractive and unforgettable, even at such an embryonic stage. Freshly crushed blueberries, dried licorice, decadent violets, crushed stones and ash on the nose. Satin-textured tannins on the palate, which are tense, chalky and seamless. Powerful and juicy with impeccable balance. A great, cerebral and intrinsic malbec from Argentina. You can drink now, if you want, but it is a wine that you’d want to keep for the next two decades. A real charmer, especially for the wine nerds. Buy this and try! 6000 bottles made.

James Suckling, JamesSuckling.com, March 2022

‘The straight Piedra Infinita bottling combines Malbecs from eight different parcels on the estate in Paraje Altamira. Daringly energetic and refreshing, with no oak to get in the way of the expression of place. Dense, chalky and stony, with fine texture, fennel and laurel aromas and a core of sappy, energetic fruit.’

Tim Atkin MW, timatkin.com, January 2022

The pure Malbec 2019 Finca Piedra Infinita comes from 10-year-old vines in Altamira and fermented with 80% to 100% full clusters depending on the plot, all with indigenous yeasts in concrete and matured exclusively in raw concrete. It has the sense of purity and harmony of the best vintages of this wine, with precision and balance. They build the wine with juice from different plots and soils depending on the vintage: in a cooler year like 2019, they tend to use more grapes from shallower soils (more supercalcáreo than gravas calcáreas - gravascal), and in a warmer year, they'd use more grapes from places with a little more soil and resistance to heat and dry conditions. This wine is juicy and has purity of fruit and a tactile sensation reminiscent of wet chalk, with very fine tannins and a long, tasty finish. 9,000 bottles were filled in June 2020. 2023 - 2034

Luis Gutierrez, Wine Advocate, November 2022

The Uco Valley is home to some magnificent sites for Malbec - this being a prime example. At over 1000 metres of altitude, the stony, calcium-rich soils are perfect for producing wines that manage a wonderful balance of ripeness and cleansing acidity. Zuccardi have pushed for a transparent expression of the site in recent vintages, harvesting manually, fermenting in concrete and now ageing in concrete rather than wood. The resulting wine is deep purple in colour with a highly aromatic and pristine nose of blueberry and black cherry, lifted by violet and white pepper tones. The palate follows in the same vein, ripe but tangy black fruit forms the core, but there is an underlying peppery spice and subtle stony quality to offer tension. Always fresh in acidity, the tannins are seamless and ultra-refined but plentiful - this should allow for a long, open drinking window. Winemaking and elevage of the highest quality has given this wine no hard edges and superb intensity without any heaviness. Deceptively approachable, it only improves with air and will benefit with decanting or more time in bottle. Long and focused to the finish, it is one of the best wines we have tasted from Argentina.

Thomas Parker MW, Farr Vintners, November 2022