Visit Familia Zuccardi, in the Maipú region of Mendoza in Argentina, and any (or all) of three things are likely to happen:
- You get stuffed like a veal calf, mostly on splayed goat, beef, and half-a-dozen different preparations of sausages, all done up Argentine Barbeque style.
- You fall somewhat under the kind-old-uncle spell of Director José Alberto Zuccardi, or are simply worn down by his seemingly endless wellspring of good cheer and all-around positive vibes.
- You realize that there’s good reason why books like Opus Vino call Zuccardi’s “Q” line “the portfolio stand-out.” If you’re not too stuffed on splayed goat and sausage to pay attention, that is.
Also, you might get tested on your Malbec blending skills (more info. on that – and on whether or not I passed – after the jump).
Despite a 2 million case / year production, Zuccardi still lives up to the “Familia” tag, particularly when they’re stuffing you at lunch and educating you on the proper method of sharing Yerba Mate tea Argentina style. And it’s still a family-run outfit: José’s father planted their first vines in 1963, mostly to show off an alternative use for the construction irrigation system he designed, but he “fell in love with winemaking” (funny how that happens), as José explained it to me (José’s been on board since `76, and his children are now involved in various aspects of the business).
Family ties do not a great wine guarantee, however. Defining Zuccardi’s “Q” as a “great” Malbec is, of course, a debatable matter, but after tasting through a not-insubstantial amount of Malbecs during my March jaunt through South America, let’s just say that I’m pretty confident telling you that it’s unlikely the “Q” would be considered anything other than at least “damn good” even by those who find Argentina’s signature dark Malbec wines to be a bit too… brutish for their personal tastes.
To understand what I mean by that, I need to take you behind the scenes at Zuccardi, where I got a crash-course (before the barbeque-stuffing) in whether or not Malbec really can show terroir…