Criolla Chica, Cara Sur
Cara Sur was formed in 2011 as a partnership between two couples inspired to revive ancestral vines and produce wines from traditional Argentine varietals. Sebastián Zuccardi and Marcela Manini teamed up with Nuria Año Gargiulo and Pancho Burgallo, an avid mountaineering couple who live in Barreal, in the Calingasta Valley of San Juan, north of Mendoza. They produce wines from 80 year old vines of Moscatel, Moscatel Negro, Bonarda Piedmontese, and Criolla Chica (the Argentine iteration of Pais). The vines, which were planted around 1930, are Parral trained, a ceiling-trellised system that provides shade and maximizes airflow. The vineyard sits alongside the Los Patos River on stony soil at 1500 meters above sea level. The Cara Sur wines are made in a tiny winery next to Pancho and Nuria’s home where they produce small quantities with minimal intervention. Sebastian and Marcela regularly make the trip north to work alongside Pancho and Nuria. The quartet are producing some of the most unique wines from one of the most underrated microclimates of Argentina. Cara Sur translates to South Face and refers to the more challenging approach to Cerro Mercedario one of Argentina’s tallest peaks, which can be seen from Barreal.
The 2020 Criolla was harvested the first week of March and fermented with foot-trodden 30% full clusters in concrete eggs with indigenous yeasts. The élevage was in egg and lasted some eight months. This is incredibly pale, paler than any other wine here; it looks like a rosé, and the wine is ethereal, floral and flinty. In 2020, the grapes from the La Totora vineyard were added here, as the wine was not produced on its own, so that could be one of the changes here. There was a very soft extraction, a long infusion with no movement of the skins. The palate is light, and there are some fine-grained tannins but none of the rusticity the grape is able to deliver.