For a country that really does not take itself so seriously about anything, I can tell you that within the last 15 years the local Argentine wine scene has changed all of that and changed, in-fact, so much that it is now almost unrecognizable. I have never known, so rapidly, a wine-growing area, or in this case nation, to have re-invented itself so drastically and with such gusto! And it’s not because of the climate changeing, or that someone got out of bed one morning and said, hey let’s change things here for the best.
Nope, they don’t do that sort of thing here, ever. Can I remind you that even 10 years ago the majority of Argentine people drank Coca Cola with their beef lunch and BBQ dinner. Sometimes, and not unlike residents of Venezuela and Colombia, a certain class of ‘macho’ would drink, with his chums and not alone, a whole 75cl bottle of Johnny Walker Black Label Scotch on the rocks, before lunch and then get stuck into their meal, without drinks. You don’t see this anymore.
Some say that the French invasion of Mendoza, with the likes of M.Rolland and Lurton Family are responsible for such a change, and yes I understand very well their input on the wine scene, but I still do not find it particularly interesting for a Frenchman to buy a bunch of more or less inexpensive land abroad, in this case on the east coast of Los Andes, and make a French style of wine there. Boring all of it. However there are several main local players, born in “don’t cry for me Marge n’Tina” to really thank for this dramatic and highly positive move, and today I want to focus on just one of them. Our man is Senor Sebastian Zuccardi in Mendoza. I know that I have written before on the subject of Sebbers and his terrific mountain wines from the family’s bodega in San Carlos, but as I have just had the privilege to taste six of his Paraje Altamira jewels (oh, and one jewel from Gualtallary), so we’ll concentrate on those for now as I believe it’s important to share with you the latest findings.
The wines where opened at midday, the time of tasting, no breathers or decanters here. All the reds were from 2016 vintage and one white, the latest and outstanding 2019 vintage white wine, that goes by the name of ‘Fosil‘. We tasted the six wines in this order:
Fosil Chardonnay 2019, San Carlos @ GBP39+ (per bottle ib ex VAT/delivery)
There is a depth & freshness to this wine and an elegance that if I did not now it came from Mendoza, would put it amongst a top Puligny-Montrachet (Villages). It’s calcareoulsy delcious and has, I guess 5+ years to show off it’s Neolithic inheritance. Cuvee Allosaurus!
Finca Las Cerrilladas Vineyard Cabernet Franc 2016, Gualtallary @ POA*
With a clever touch of Malbec in the mix here, the nose screams Claret, but of course, it’s not. The richness and the elgance of this grape, Cab-Franc, that I would not normally use these words for are quite outstanding. It leans more towards a Cabernet Sauvignon structure for me and the salinity and dry earthyness, just push me to want to drink more of it. Cuvee Diplodocus!
Finca Canal Uco Vineyard Malbec 2016, Paraje Altamira @ POA*
Black red fruits and an exotic spiceyness. Intensity personified with all that minerality to support its own elegance. Cuvee Velociraptorus!
Finca Piedra Infinita 2016, Paraje Altamira @ GBP103+ (per bottle ib ex VAT/delivery)
If you are used to or expecting a commercial style of Malbec here, don’t bother. This is a new generation of very hi-level wine that will only benefit from ageing, if anyone can wait ten years + to see the final blossomed version. This is the famous one hundred pointer** Cuvee Megolasaurus!
Finca Piedra Infinita 2016, Gravascal, Paraje Altamire @ POA*
Intense colour with floral notes on the nose. Silky, yet punchy palate and terrific structure. Enough tannins to sink a battleship, not in the River Plate as it’s too shallow. Complex and a long long finish. 20 years plus and you’ll find the answer. Cuvee Archaeopteryx!
Finca Piedra Infinita 2016, Supercal, Paraje Altamire @ POA*
Blackberry, cherry, plum and power. Soft and mourish tannins. The last one to show off this kind of natural, textured minerality that all these red wines have in common and show off in spades. Cuvee Spinosauras!
All six wines were quite unique in their way. The 2019 Fosil (I do have some stock of 2018/17 & 2016 if of interest) is simply quite delicious, and it was a surprise to find such finesse on the Cab-Franc from Las Cerrilladas. The market will take care of the big hitters, and I know well that we all know well that 2016 Pidera Infinita was scored 100 points last month, which is no mean feat for such a young wine, but the potential with all these calcarique, fosilique & terroir driven wines is such that any serious wine drinker who never found Mendocian wines particularly serious enough. Well, when Herr S. Zuccardi says “I no longer seek for a perfect wine, but for a wine that expresses its origin”. Well, these six wines definitely speak in volumes on that theme. Willmarrrrrrrrr!!
POA* = Price on Application
There are such small amounts of these bottles available for the world, and also some are still not available in your area. Please ask me for details, as we have some, a little stock @ LCB VT.