Exciting emerging regions in the Uco Valley

Travels in Wine / Argentina

Exciting emerging regions in the Uco Valley

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The Uco Valley has become the centre of interest for high-quality wines in Mendoza. Although there are old vineyards planted over 70 years ago, the valley has only come to prominence in the last ten years or so. Before this, it was the vineyards close to the city of Mendoza – Vistalba, Compuertas, Agrelo and Perdriel – that were the most reputed.

A map showing the location of the Uco Valley within Mendoza. Used with the kind permission of Sebastián Zuccardi
A map showing the location of the Uco Valley within Mendoza. Used with the kind permission of Sebastián Zuccardi
A wine map of the Uco Valley. Used with the kind permission of Sebastián Zuccardi
A wine map of the Uco Valley. Used with the kind permission of Sebastián Zuccardi

The Uco Valley is cooler than the vineyards near Mendoza City because it is further south, closer to the Andes and has some vineyards at higher altitudes, up to 1,500 metres.

Also the Rio Las Tunas and the Rio Tunuyan have brought limestone deposits to those areas bordering the rivers, especially Gualtallary, Paraje Altamira and La Consulta.

Zuccardi's Finca Los Membrillos in La Consulta with the Andes close by in the background
Zuccardi's Finca Los Membrillos in La Consulta with the Andes close by in the background

Wines grown on limestone soils are generally low vigour, so produce concentrated wines with firm, long and linear palates with a character often described as more mineral than fruity.

Catena's Adrianna vineyard in the exciting subregion of Gualtallary
Catena's Adrianna vineyard in the exciting subregion of Gualtallary

So far, few of the subregions of the Uco Valley (Gualtallary, Chacayes, Vista Flores, La Consulta) have appeared on the labels because some have been trademarked by existing wine producers! One 'workaround' found for Altamira, which has also been trademarked, was to call it 'Paraje Altamira' or 'Altamira Region.'

Alejandro Sejanovich and Jeff Mausbach make small quantities of the exceptional Zaha & Teho wines from old vines planted in Paraje Altamira
Alejandro Sejanovich and Jeff Mausbach make small quantities of the exceptional Zaha & Teho wines from old vines planted in Paraje Altamira

The cooler climate means some of the country's best white wines are being grown here, perhaps especially Catena's chardonnays from Gualtallary. Mendel make a wonderful semillon from 70-year-old vines in Altamira.

Zuccardi's winery in Altamira
Zuccardi's winery in Altamira

Inevitably it has also become known for the quality of its malbecs. The cooler climate here produces some lovely floral and violet-scented malbecs. Also in Altamira and La Consulta the limestone soils give the relatively low-tannin malbec more structure and length. Susana Balbo's La Delfina and the Zaha and Teho wines are lovely examples of this.

Susana Balbo's La Delfina is a lovely example of the floral, violent-scented style of Paraje Altamira malbec
Susana Balbo's La Delfina is a lovely example of the floral, violent-scented style of Paraje Altamira malbec

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