Sebastián Zuccardi, Winemaker at Zuccardi
11 April 2021
We had the pleasure of talking to Sebastián Zuccardi, third-generation winemaker at the family's winery, Zuccardi. He is one of the most highly regarded winemakers in Argentina, so it is no surprise that his phenomenal wine, Jose Zuccardi Malbec 2016 has made it into our Merchant's Collection. We had a chat with Sebastián and discussed the secrets behind Zuccardi and their bold wines.
Tell us about Zuccardi and how it came about?
Around 1950, my grandfather, Ing. Alberto Zuccardi, arrived in Mendoza from his hometown in Tucumán, where his great-grandparents had settled when they arrived from the Italian region of AveIino. In 1963, Alberto established a vineyard in the Maipú region, not knowing that this would start the great passion of his life, viticulture. In 1990, his son (my father), José Alberto Zuccardi, assumed the General Management of the company.
In 2005, as the third generation of the family, I decided to lead the development of the new stage of the winery's wines, with the expansion into the Uco Valley. In addition, since 2008 I lead the Research and Development Area, dedicated to the study of terroir and the various variables that affect wine production.
In 2013 the construction of the Zuccardi Valle de Uco winery began, inaugurated in March 2016, with the premise of making wines with identity, through the continuous exploration of the different terroirs of the Uco Valley.
What makes Zuccardi stand out compared to other wines?
I believe in the place, and I try to make wines that express it. The Uco Valley has a great diversity in terms of weather because it presents different altitudes and exposures, also in terms of soils thanks to the diversity that alluvial movements create, this is huge. And in terms of the areas, the terroir changes in very short distances.
I try to maintain very simple winemaking, that can be respected and differentiate one place from the other. I think balance is very important and I prefer to use used oak because I want the wine to preserve its own freshness, without the addition of any other flavours from the oak.
On the other hand, I like to use concrete a lot because it´s part of our history, as it was brought by European immigrants, but also because I think it has many advantages: it´s a great energy saver for its thick walls, it does not transmit any flavours or taste to the wines and it´s a natural material that gives the possibility of creating something of our own (as I create my own concrete vats in an amphora shape).
I like concrete, but the most important thing for me is having connection and coherence between the place where we cultivate and the place where we ferment.
We cultivate wines, and I like my wines to tell the story of the place they are from.
Tell us about yourself/yourselves and your background? How did you come to create Zuccardi?
I grew up in a family of strong visionary and innovative spirit. I studied at the Agricultural School, where I received the title of winemaker and then continued my studies as an agricultural engineer. I built my own conception of wine and developed a great passion for my profession.
I'm the third generation of the family and I´m working in front of a young agricultural and winemaking team, which is focused on making wines with identity through continuous exploration of the different terroirs in the Uco Valley.
I was born into a family where wine was always present, it breathed in the family environment. I knew that I wanted to study something related to nature, but I did not know that I would end up being a winemaker at the winery.
My role in the winery was progressive, I have now tried my hand at every job required in a winery!
My incorporation to the winery was gradual and began in 1999 with the Alma 4 sparkling project. This brand allowed me to have my own identity inside and outside the winery because the family did not yet have sparkling wine. In addition, it allowed me to discover the Uco Valley.
While studying a degree in Agronomic Engineering, I started visiting vineyards, working with the growers, and when I graduated, I decided to start planting vineyards for the family in the Uco Valley. I think one of the great contributions I made to the family business was introducing them to the Uco Valley, the place I'm most passionate about.
Then, in 2009, I began to get more and more involved in the winery. That's when I decided to start participating more actively in the winery and formed the Research and Development area. This area created a small but great revolution for the winery, it influenced the way we interpreted the place and the type of wines that we wanted to make. Research and Development defined our identity as producers, determined where we wanted to go and what our wines would represent. That kicked off the construction of the winery at Finca Piedra Infinita, in the Uco Valley.
The openness of my family helped me to develop within the family business and I feel like a founder. My family were always very respectful of my vocation and my profession, they always gave me the freedom to choose where to work.
Tell us about your role at Zuccardi and what your role entails?
My tasks vary according to the time of year. During the harvest time, I tirelessly walk the vineyard with my team of agronomists, test the grapes and check the plants. I also spend a lot of time inside the winery, tasting wines, evaluating the evolution of each wine; and I never neglect my work in the area of Research and Development. The rest of the time is dedicated to the management of the company, where I actively participate in different areas such as Commercial and Human Resources.
Which one is your favourite? Or do you tend to drink different wines depending on the occasion or mood?
I really like Zuccardi Concreto, this is a wine that truly represents us. It is a wine that clearly tells the family's philosophy and expresses the potential of the region.
In Concreto we seek to “undress” the wine, enhancing its expression of the place and showing the naked texture that the calcareous soils of Paraje Altamira give us.
For its production, we select only the most stony and calcareous plots of the vineyard; and we vinify with the whole bunch as it was done in the past.
Fermentation and storage are done completely in concrete tanks without epoxy, looking to avoid the influence of aromas and flavours that do not come from the vineyard and to amplify the texture of the wine.
What are the future goals for Zuccardi?
Zuccardi Valle de Uco is a family project, a project of generations that has to continue. My goal is to continue learning about our vineyards, exploring different areas of the Uco Valley and to continue developing our own Zuccardi identity.
We want our wines to be part of the great areas on the wine map.
Simple things are often the biggest challenges!