Have any of you ever had an opportunity to visit Uruguay and taste the wines that they produce? Up until about a few weeks ago, I was never familiar with their wines until I attended the Wine Bloggers Conference in Penticton, British Columbia. Wines Of Uruguay was among one of the conference’s many sponsors and they brought Uruguay and their wines to us during a lovely lunch and tasting sponsored by them during the conference.
The beautiful country of Uruguay sits in the Southeastern part of South America with its capital being Montevideo. Uruguay sits in the Southern Hemisphere between the parallels 30 and 35 S, giving it an ideal geographical location to produce wine. This is also the case for other wine-producing countries such as Argentina, Chile, South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand. Take its location, a fairly moderate climate, and its rich clay-based soils, and you have very favorable grape-growing conditions. Uruguayan wines are grown in the purest environment in the Southern Hemisphere and Uruguay is the third purest natural ecosystem in the world.
Tannat is Uruguay’s flagship grape. Tannat is to Uruguay as Malbec is to Argentina. You will often find Tannat blended with other red wine varieties such as Merlot and Syrah or it is perfect on its own. The climate and soil of Uruguay is ideal for growing Tannat. This red wine varietal is intense in color and produces wines with great complexity and body which are very well suited for hearty meat dishes. Many Uruguayan winemakers use oak barrels to age the wine to provide a softer tannic structure to the wine. Tannat is a very versatile and food-friendly wine.
Tannat is not the only wine variety you will find in Uruguay. Uruguay is also producing an abundance of other varieties with excellent results such as Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Syrah for the reds. For the whites, you will find Sauvignon Blanc, Albariño, and Chardonnay; all food-friendly and complex.
Uruguay is home to approximately 270 wineries or “Bodegas” in Spanish. During our lunch at the Wine Bloggers Conference, we had an opportunity to taste wines from different producers and pair them with our lunch. I tasted a couple of standout wines from Artesana Vineyards and Bodega Bouza.
One of my favorite white wines of the lunch was a 2012 Albariño by Bodegas Bouza. As the wine opened up in the glass, lovely floral notes emerged as well as stone fruits, tangerine, and grapefruit. The wine had lots of vibrant acidity and a clean, long finish. This is one of many wines produced by Bodegas Bouza in Montevideo. The winery also produces Chardonnay, Tannat, and Tempranillo to name a few of their wines.
The other standout wine of the lunch was a 2011 Tannat-Merlot blend produced by Artesana Winery. Artesana is a small winery producing artisan wines in the Las Brujas, Canelones region. They specialize in single vineyard Tannat, Tannat blends, and Zinfandel. They produce the first and only Zinfandel in Uruguay. The 2011 Tannat-Merlot Blend pours a deep garnet color in the glass and has abundant red and dark fruits such as raspberry, plum, and dark cherries along with spice, espresso, and dark cocoa. This is a rich, full-bodied wine making it a great pairing for heartier dishes with meat. You can connect with Artisana on Twitter and Facebook.
Although the lunch was brief, it was a wonderful introduction to Uruguay and the wines they produce. Uruguay is definitely making a name for itself in the wine world and is producing some world-class wines. Take that aspect, and the fact that the country boasts so much natural beauty and gorgeous, clean beaches and you have a great vacation spot. I definitely would love to plan a wine-tasting trip to Uruguay in the near future and have an opportunity to visit the other wineries and take in the beauty and charm of the quaint towns. A very special thank you to the Wines Of Uruguay for bringing a bit of Uruguay to British Columbia for us all to enjoy. Wines Of Uruguay can be found on Facebook and Twitter. Be sure to connect with them to keep up to date with all the latest news on wine production in Uruguay. Until the next time friends.