In February of 2023, a lucky member of the team travelled to South America as a guest of importer Hatch Mansfield to visit two of the continent’s key wineries; Zuccardi of Argentina and Chadwick/Errazuriz of Chile.
The trip was billed as ‘The Best of the Andes’ and more than lived up to it. Each of these fabulous producers showcasing exactly what makes their wines so special, while also being fabulous hosts.
Argentina – Mendoza and Zuccardi’s Thrillingly Pure Wines.
Gualtallary – A land of incredible complexity.
We began our visit to Zuccardi with a fascinating morning in the vineyards in Gualtallary with the snow-capped peaks of the Andes looming in the distance. This is an area of incredible complexity with soils, aspects, altitudes and promixity to the mountains all contribution of a near infinite array of different terroirs. Recognising this, Zuccardi splits its vineyards into small plots, treating each separately to ensure that each reaches its full potential.
The amount of work this takes is mind-blowing, but it is clearly more than worthwhile, as we found out the next day.
Zuccardi Piedra Infinita –Phenomenal vineyards and a unique winery.
Day 2 saw us visit the vineyards and winery at Piedra Infininta. Here we visited the Piedra Infinita vineyard and saw the microscopic plots that go into the, 100-point-scoring, Supercal and Gravascal cuvees. These have unique soils, identified as having the most potential and yield just 1,000 bottles or so per year.
We then toured Zuccardi’s the state-of-the-art winery. The big takeaway here is the almost total absence of oak, with concrete tanks and eggs almost exclusively used for fermentation and ageing. This lack of oak shows immense confidence in the raw material as there are no tricks here and nowhere to hide, the terroirs and the grapes they produce have to be utterly immaculate. And they are.
Tasting through the full range at Zuccardi shows these to be very special wines. All are incredibly pure, elegant and ethereal with just the intensity of the fruit being dialled up as you go up the quality scale. The signature style here is clear and is delivered superbly. This is Malbec like you’ve never tasted before.
Chile – Immense Wine From The Aconcagua and Maipo Valleys.
Chadwick’sPanquehue – A first Growth in The Foothills of The Andes.
This is Chadwick’s icon winery and one of the most stunning that it’s possible to visit. Immaculate vineyards are framed by the lush foothills of the western slopes of the Andes and surround the gorgeous winery. It’s an estate that threatens to make even the Bordeaux First Growths look pedestrian, a breathtakingly beautiful place that makes you realise just how serious these wines are.
Sena – A South American Icon.
Begun as a joint project with Robert Mondavi of Napa, the single-vineyard Sena is one of South America’s most important wines. It is a stunning location, stretching up a steep slope and responsible for world class wine.
A vertical tasting was arrange in just about the most beautiful location possible, a terrace overlooking the vineyards, and showcased the remarkable consistency here. From 1998 through to 2021, there is incredible quality, with recent vintages highlighting a focus on ever greater balance, elegance and purity. The 2021 (to be released in Sept 2023) is a masterpiece, perhaps the greatest wine yet made here.
Errazuriz Pizarras – Stunning Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
The next day, we took in the stunning, remote, vineyards used for the Errazuriz Pizarras Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. In the Aconcagua Valley, plenty of sun and cooling mists from the Pacific are ideal for these grapes. The result is lean, focused wines of real precision. Fans of modern Burgundy will find a lot to like here. As do the critics who routinely score these in the upper 90s.
Our final visit was to the Chadwick home vineyard in Maipo. In a prime location, just next door to Almaviva, this is where the rare and expensive Vinedo Chadwick is made. Interestingly it comes from vines planted on what once was a polo field.
Video Chadwick is deisgned to rival the best of Bordeaux. IT rose to prominence after the 2000 bested a host of First Growths at the ‘Berlin Tasting’ in 2004. A Bordeaux blend, it is very dear to Eduardo Chadwick. After all it is made in what was once the family home.
A comprehensive tasting show it to be a very complete wine, deep, plush and concentrated. All of its component parts excellent and beautifully put together. As with the Sena, recent vintages show great focus on elegance and finesse, with the 2021 a magnificent prospect.
This was a once-in-a-lifetime trip where the qualiy of the wines was matched only by the quality of the hospitiality. It was also fascinating, eye-opening and immensely interesting. A demonstration that some of the best wines in the world, and the most innovative and exciting winemaking on the planet come from the Eastern and Western slopes of the Andes.
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