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Uruguay Part I: Small Country Makes Big, Flavorful Wines

2013 June 18

portion of the Pisano vineyards in Progreso area of Canelones

portion of the Pisano vineyards in Progreso area of Canelones


Background

I have been a fan of the small South American country of Uruguay, located on the Atlantic coast below Brazil and east of Argentina, ever since I spent many weeks there in the mid-80s. That’s when I took a sabbatical from law practice to live and travel in South America for a year.

I rented an apartment in Buenos Aires in 1986 and traveled all around Argentina and South America from there. I kept coming back to Uruguay, though, where the people are welcoming and relaxed, the food is delicious, and the beaches are clean and safe.

Back then, although I loved the food there, Uruguayan wines were, for the most part, plonk. Sold mostly in five-liter demijohns in stores and known as rosé or clarete—in color either medium pink or light to medium red—the vast majority of wine produced in the country was based on high yielding hybrids or lesser varieties like Muscat d’Hambourg. The wines were therefore thin and poor. The best wines in South America then were from Chile, with Argentina also starting to make some good things. You’d have to pay a lot more for Chilean wines, but it was well worth it. There were a couple of exceptions—producers that were making something of better quality from vinifera grapes, like the Carrau family detailed below. They were the hard-to-find rarities, however.

Things began to change for the better for Uruguayan wine production after I left South America in 1987. The formation of Mercosur—the South American Free Trade Zone–at the end of the ’80s meant Uruguayan producers were going to have to become more competitive in their own market against Chilean and Argentine imports. Uruguay transferred governmental oversight of the wine industry in 1988 to a new entity, El Instituto Nacional de Vitivinicultura (INAVI), that was charged with improving the quality of Uruguayan wine and seeking out export markets.

With government subsidies for pulling up hybrids, a lot of the high yielding stuff was taken out and vitis vinifera, the type of grapes required for fine wine, planted in its place. Domestic wines were divided into two categories—Vino de Calidad Preferente (VCP), which had to be made from vinifera grapes, be bottled and have a minimum of 11.5% alcohol. Wines not meeting those basic requirements are referred to as Vino de Mesa, i.e. table wine. Efforts to promote exports, by making appearances at major trade fairs around the world, began in 1989. In 1993, Uruguay became South America’s first country to prohibit the use of other wine region names—like Burgundy, Rioja and Champagne—on domestic wine labels.

British critics who have visited Uruguay in the past few years have reported some very good wines being made there now. I had been following these reports with interest, so was delighted to receive an invite early this year to visit there from Wines of Uruguay, the organization comprised of about 20 of the major producers that leads those wineries’ combined efforts to expand wine exports. On the trip with me, which took place in mid-April, were two other American wine writers, Joe Roberts and W. Blake Gray.

Grape Varieties

Francisco Carrau with experimental Tannat vines

Francisco Carrau with experimental Tannat vines


The grape that has garnered the most attention in Uruguay, becoming the country’s signature grape the way Malbec is for Argentina, is Tannat. This red grape with its high concentrations of tannins and anthocyanins originated in southwest France. It was brought to Uruguay in 1874 from Argentina by Pascal Harriague, a Basque born immigrant. He had visited Concordia in Argentina, where good Bordeaux blend wines were being produced, and brought back a grape called Lorda there. He planted a 200-hectare vineyard with it in Uruguay, and it did remarkably well. Others followed his lead and started planting it, so that the grape came to be known in Uruguay as “Harriague.” In 1919, the grape was identified as the same as the Tannat of Madiran and Irouléguy.

Thanks to the humid conditions, long growing season and clay loam or sandy red soils in much of Uruguay, Tannat gets fully ripe there to an extent it often doesn’t in southwest France. Producers have also worked with consultants on vineyard and winemaking techniques, including micro-oxygenation and barrel aging, aimed at softening Tannat’s big tannins so that the Uruguayan version tends to be drinkable much earlier than its French counterpart.

Tannat can be quite complex on the palate, showing black fruit flavors, like blackberry and black currant. Depending on the oak treatment, the wines can show also chocolate or espresso flavors. I find the best examples to be rich, with lots of structure and complexity. There is often a savory quality to these wines, too, especially with some bottle age.

About one-quarter of the vineyard area in Uruguay is now planted to Tannat. Other red grapes that are widely found there are the Bordeaux grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Malbec. Several winemakers we met with were particularly fans of Merlot. There is also an increasing amount of Syrah being planted.

On the white side, the leading grapes are Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. Winegrowers are also finding that the climate is conducive to Albariño and Viognier.

Geography and Wine Regions

Like the other wine growing Southern Hemisphere countries Argentina, Chile, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, Uruguay is located between the parallel latitudes 30 and 35 degrees south. The winegrowing regions of Chile and Argentina, however, start about one thousand kilometers to the west, where they are greatly influenced by the Andes mountain range. Uruguay’s climate is primarily influenced by its location along the Rio Plata to the south and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. Its climate is therefore more comparable to that of Bordeaux or New Zealand than it is to its South American neighbors. The climate is typically somewhat warmer and milder than that of Bordeaux, but grapes get ripe at fairly low sugar levels, retaining a lot of natural acidity as they do in New Zealand.

Because the biggest population center of the country has long been Montevideo, where about 50% of Uruguayans live, most of the vineyards were originally planted within about 50 kilometers of this capital city. This area, comprising the political departments of Montevideo and Canelones, still contains about 95% of Uruguay’s vineyards. This is a region with flat, rich, clay loam soils and low rolling hills. It lies within 20 to 30 kilometers of the wide Rio Plata, the waterway that flows from Buenos Aires past Montevideo and on to the Atlantic Ocean. Rainfall is fairly high in this area, as it is generally in Uruguay, but the proximity of the river helps keep temperatures relatively mild.

In recent years, new sites with poorer soils—ideal for low vigor plantings—have more recently been identified farther west toward Argentina, in the north near the Brazilian border, and on rolling hills with good drainage in the east near the resort city of Punta del Este. There are, as yet, however, no officially designated appellations or demarcated wine regions in Uruguay. The references to regions below, then, are to the unofficial ones currently being used, mainly identified by the name of the political division, i.e., department, where the vineyards are located.

Joe, Blake and I spent a total of eight days in Uruguay, following a schedule that had us visiting as many as four producers a day. And although Uruguay is a relatively small country, since the wine regions are becoming quite far flung, we had to drive as much as three and a half hours on a couple of occasions to get to wineries based along the Atlantic Coast, near Punta del Este, and in the west, in the department of Colonia.

In sum, there are hundreds of wine grape growers in Uruguay, mainly small family operations, and approximately 250 wineries. Of those, about 30 to 40 are making higher quality wines, but only about 20 to 25 are in a position to export. The majority of Uruguay’s wine exports currently go to Brazil, but they’re also starting to see significant sales in the U.K., Sweden, Germany, Belgium and the U.S. The several top producers we visited on this trip are making wines that would be in the top echelons anywhere.

In this first of two installments on the top producers of Uruguay we visited, I will focus on the older producers, those that were established by the 1970s, as their stories help illustrate the history of the development of fine wine production in Uruguay. Most of these producers originally made the kind of plonk I described above until the late 1970s or ‘80s, when the industry started revamping and a handful of producers began to aim to make fine wines. In part two of this report, I will profile the best of the newer producers—those that have come into being in the last decade or two, as well as the new regions that are showing very promising results.

Top Longtime Producers

Carrau

pastel painted tanks at old Carrau winery in Colón

pastel painted tanks at old Carrau winery in Colón


Carrau is one of the larger producers of high quality wines in Uruguay. The Carrau family trace their winemaking heritage back to 1752, when the first of nine generations of winemakers purchased vineyards in the family’s former homeland of Catalonia, Spain.

Jumping ahead several generations, Juan Carrau Sust, who had studied oenology at the school of wine in Vilafranca del Penedés, closed down the family winery in Catalonia at the beginning of the financial and political crisis in Spain in 1929. He immigrated to Uruguay where his wife’s family lived and where another branch of the Carrau family had become successful merchants, owning, among other things, a wine and spirits distribution business.

Juan–who had to be one of very few European trained winemakers then living in Uruguay, it there even were any others–was offered the job of winemaker in 1930 at a winery that had been in business since 1898. The company’s operations expanded significantly after Juan came on board and they began exporting wine. Juan was soon offered a partnership in the company and an increasingly large shareholding. In 1932, he produced Uruguay’s first bottle fermented sparkling wine. The next year he published a textbook on winemaking for Uruguayan winemakers. He also took over the editorship of the Uruguayan wine industry’s trade publication. In 1937, he wrote that Tannat was the grape variety best suited for the Uruguayan market, stating, “the best adapted grape is the Harriague, or Tannat, with which, without changing the grape-variety, but rather the ways of treating it, has demonstrated that it can produce unsurpassable wines, appealing to the consumer and without a hint of harshness . . . .”

Unfortunately, Juan suffered a debilitating stroke and paralysis in 1940. His son Juan Carrau Pujol, age 16, suddenly became head of the family and began working at the winery where his father at that point owned a one-third interest. The younger Juan proved himself a successful entrepreneur, starting a couple of new, non-wine related businesses. He also married the daughter of one of Montevideo’s leading Italian families, the Bonomis.

Juan was promoted to managing director of Bodega Santa Rosa, initially taking over his father’s former duties as winemaker, but ultimately spending most of his time continuing to build the financial side of the business. In 1971, at age 48, he resigned from Santa Rosa and sold his interest. He spent a lot of time after that building first one and then another wine business in Brazil, in part because Brazil’s heavy tariffs made it difficult for Uruguayans to export wine there. One of the brands he launched in Brazil, Chateau Lacave, became Brazil’s biggest and best regarded for over 20 years. In the early 1970s, he also worked on behalf of a joint venture partly funded by National Distillers’ vineyard subsidiary Almaden to search for sites in Brazil that would be most suitable for a large vineyard. U.C. Davis Professor Olmo worked with him on this project.

Back in Uruguay, Juan launched Vinos Finos Juan Carrau S.A. in 1976. The family already owned over 20 hectares of vineyards at Las Violetas in Canelones. The previous year Juan had purchased an abandoned winery, formerly the premises of Pablo Varzi, one of the four founding fathers of the Uruguayan wine industry, in Colón. The objective of the new company was to produce only fine wines, made from vinifera grapes, and to sell them only in wine bottles, not five-litre demijohns.

In 1975, Juan sent his son Javier to the Brazilian border to search for 50 hectares of potential vineyard land there. They subsequently bought a total of 342 hectares in the department of Rivera, an area now called Cerro Chapeu for the hat-shaped sandstone hills found there. At Cerro Chapeu, the Carraus planted primarily Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Tannat.

Vinos Finos J. Carrau was the first to produce reserve wines in small oak barrels instead of giant oak vats. Their first barrel-aged Tannat del Museo was released in 1979, under the brand name Castel Pujol.

Juan Carrau Pujol died in 1984, leaving the wine operations in Brazil and Uruguay to his eight children. Some of them live in Brazil and are involved with the Brazilian wine businesses there. The three children in charge of the family wine business in Uruguay are Javier, Francisco and Margarita. Javier studied agronomy and manages the company. Margarita, the youngest daughter, received her degree in communications and is active in promoting oenotourism nationally in Uruguay. Youngest son Francisco studied microbiology and wine biochemistry, both at the Biological Sciences University of the Republic in Montevideo and in Madrid. He wrote his doctor’s thesis on the microbiology of aromas. He lectures regularly at the University of Montevideo and oversees winemaking for Vinos Finos J. Carrau.

We got to spend time with Francisco at the Carrau winery in southern Uruguay, in the town of Colón near Montevideo. This facility began life in 1887 and was an old warehouse when the Carraus purchased it in 1976. In 1998, the Carrau brothers completed the building of a state of the art gravity flow winery at Cerro Chapeu.

Carrau winemaker Octavio Gioia

Carrau winemaker Octavio Gioia


Francisco toured us through the winery, where the tanks are painted in pastel colors of lavender, yellow, green and turquoise, shades recommended as motivational by a Uruguayan artist they consulted with. Octavio Gioia, who studied oenology at the University of Torino, has been the winemaker at Carrau since 1998. We met him while he was doing battonage on barrels of Petit Manseng. We also saw the individual cubicles set up for 12 people to perform blindtastings every week to monitor how the wines are progressing, and to determine what should go into what blends and bottlings.

Francisco also showed us a small experimental vineyard they planted near the winery in 1995 devoted to the study of different clones of Tannat. The Carraus imported nine clones of Tannat from France, and Francisco recovered four heritage clones of Tannat from 130-year-old vines originally planted by Harriague. They also have the Tannat #1 clone that was brought to California from France in about 1910.

Francisco explained that Tannat has large, roughly textured leaves, and that some clones have tight bunches while others are looser. They are looking for clones and possible mutations with smaller leaves, which would allow them to do less canopy management, and also for loose bunches that are less prone to mildew and rot. While they grow some Tannat on the fertile, clay soils in Las Violetas, Francisco told us that the best soils for Tannat are the low vigor, red sandy soils, with great drainage, that they have in Cerro Chapeu.

From 40 hectares of vines at Las Violetas and another 50 at Cerro Chapeu, they crush about 800 to 900 tons of grapes annually, producing a total of about 800,000 bottles. About 10 to 15% of what they make is white wine; another 30% is rosé, which continues to be very popular in Uruguay. About 55% of their production is red wines. Of that, the single wine they produce in the greatest volume is an unoaked Cabernet Sauvignon for domestic production (about 10,000 cases) and the Tannat Reserve (6-7,000 cases). They export about 40% of their wines.

Carrau bottlings

Carrau bottlings


I counted eight different labels the family is using, not including the joint project Arerunguá they have with Spain’s Freixenet, which the Carraus sell in Uruguay and the U.S., and Freixenet sells in Spain and Europe. The entry level brand is Casa de Varzi, made for the domestic market and Poland. Then there are two ranges of products under the Castel Pujol label. The first is a lower priced line of whites and reds bottled in the rounded Franken bocksbeutel bottle that is popular in Uruguayan restaurants. The Castel Pujol Altos and Robles line is packaged in Bordeaux style bottles, from grapes sourced mainly in Las Violetas.

At a higher quality level are the Juan Carrau bottlings, which are sold for about $10 in the U.S., and which are divided into two ranges: Cepas Nobles (Noble Vines) and Reservas. Then there are the Bodega Carrau Grandes Reservas. These include the 1752 Gran Tradicion J. Carrau Pujol, first produced in 1989. It’s a red blend made from Cerro Chapeu fruit. There is also the Vilasar Nebbiolo, from the very old vines of Nebbiolo and Marzemino that were contained in the vineyard Juan Carrau Sust first planted in Las Violetas. There are also the Sust sparkling wines, and sweet and fortified wines under the Vivent label. The Carraus’ icon wine is the Amat, produced only in great years from the best Tannat grapes in a single plot called Amat at Cerro Chapeu.

We sampled 13 different wines with Francisco. Most impressive of all was an older Tannat, the first bottling from 1989 under the Juan Carrau Castel Pujol del Museo label. It showed that Uruguayan Tannat can mature into something quite complex and delicious, with tertiary flavors of truffle, shitake mushroom and dill, reminiscent of an aged Rioja. Almost equally terrific were two more maturing samples of the Tannat: both the 2001 and 1998 Amat. I was also delighted by the Vilasar Nebbiolo, from vines planted from 1910 to 1912, which is the best Nebbiolo I’ve tasted that was produced outside of Italy. The sweet, port-style Vivent de Tannat provided a delicious end to our meal. The quality level of the wines was very good overall, but these were the standouts for me.

Julia Martinez and Richard at Carrau

Julia Martinez and Richard at Carrau


We also enjoyed our most memorable meal of the whole trip at Carrau. It was prepared by Julia Martinez, who used to supervise the bottling line at Carrau and who is now brought back to prepare lunch when the winery has visitors. She made us the most succulent beef ever from a cap of tri tip slow cooked in Chardonnay.

At the end of our visit, Francisco gifted us with copies of a book written about the Carrau family by British wine writer Christopher Fielden. It is entitled Yet Another Road to Cross: Ten Generations of the Carrau Family in Wine 1752-2012, and it has been a valuable resource for me in learning not only about the Carraus’ long history, as summarized above, but also about the wine history of both Uruguay and Brazil.

Giménez Méndez

Marta Méndez of Giménez  Méndez

Marta Méndez of Giménez Méndez


This is a large producer that was founded in the 1940s by two brothers. The family also had a real estate business that was very successful. In the 1970s they purchased the brands originated by Uruguay’s first winery, Vidiella, which was founded in 1875. In 1975 they created a 100 Años label commemorating the founding of Vidiella.

In 1991, the brothers ended their business relationship and Luis Alberto Giménez bought a winery in Canelones, originally built in 1929, that has the capacity to produce nine million liters per year. They are currently only producing about two million.

Luis Alberto passed away in 1996, but his widow Marta Méndez continues to run the business. She has also served as President of Wines of Uruguay for the past five years. Her sons Luis and Mauro Giménez are both trained as oenologists and responsible for the winemaking.

The family owns about 100 hectares of vineyards, planted to a total of 25 different grape varieties. The primary varieties are Tannat, Malbec and Sauvignon Blanc. Their best Tannat comes from their 60-acre Las Brujas vineyard, originally planted in the 1980s.

We tasted through nine of their wines. They are well made and fairly good, but not yet distinctive. They are priced well for both the domestic and export market. They currently sell about 22% of their production to other countries, especially Sweden.

Their best wine, for me, is the one intended as their icon wine, named for their founder, Luis A. Giménez. It’s a rich, chocolaty, complex Tannat that is aged in French and American oak for two years. I rated it 91 points. It sells for $60 in Uruguay, so don’t expect to see it imported to the U.S. at that price level. What does seem to be selling well for them here are varietal Merlots and Tannats under their Identity label, which retail for about $20. Better than those is the 2011 Las Brujas Tannat, which is rich, savory and balanced. I see one store in New York offering the 2010 version for $16.

Juanicó

Juanicó is, along with Traversa, one of the two largest wine producers in Uruguay. According to Worldwide Export Manager Nicolas Bonino, Juanicó has 28 to 30% of the domestic market share, producing about eight million liters annually. About 2.5 million of that is fine wine, the rest is table wine, sold mainly in tetra paks.

cave built in 1830 at Juanicó

cave built in 1830 at Juanicó


Francisco Juanicó arrived in Uruguay in the 1830s, and built the underground cave—the first such wine cave in the country—which is still in use. It is located six meters below ground, where it stays just below 60 degrees Fahrenheit year round. The winery Juanicó established passed through various hands, including the owners in the 1950s who brought in an Italian designer that created a winery that looks like a UFO landed and got stuck there. In 1979, the Deicas Family, headed by Juan Carlos Deicas, acquired the winery and its vineyards.

The Deicases owned major bus transportation companies in Uruguay and used to run the airport in Punta del Este. They own a huge distribution company for wines and spirits called Almena, which represents famous brands such as Concha y Toro, Norton, Bianchi, Pommery, Taylor’s, Grant Scotch, and Mad Dog energy drink.

On purchasing Juanicó, the Deicas family launched a study of soils and grape cultivation that confirmed that the region shares a lot of similarities with Bordeaux—similar soils and maritime climate, although with temperatures somewhat warmer than Bordeaux. They made frequent trips to France and Italy, and consulted with experts in Australia, Argentina, Chile and the U.S. At the beginning of this year they announced an exclusive consulting relationship in Uruguay with American winemaker Paul Hobbs to act as adviser on their premium range of wines. They currently bottle some of their top Malbec at Paul Hobbs’s winery in Argentina.

During the early ‘80s, the Deicases converted the vineyards to French clones. They own vineyards in six regions in the country, including Canelones and Garzón, a promising new region to the east, near Punta del Este. They have about 310 to 320 hectares of vineyards planted now, including 250 in Canelones and 13 in Garzón. About 70% of the production is red wine, 30% is white.

The winery consists of several historic buildings, and is located about 38 kilometers from Montevideo with its own railroad station and a school for the workers’ children.

Nicolas told us there were a total of three people in their export department, including him. In his view, Uruguay just started making quality wine about 15 years ago, so Chile has a 30-year head start on Uruguay, while Argentina is about 20 years ahead. Juanicó is currently the biggest exporter of Uruguayan wine, with about 15,000 cases going to 26 to 28 countries per year. The four biggest destinations for their exports, amounting to about 70% of the total, are Brazil, the U.S., U.K. and Colombia.

They have two distributors in the U.S.: Ibis in Florida and TasteVino Selections based in Napa, California, which reaches about a dozen states. The principal of the latter distributor, Julio Suarez, had flown to Uruguay from Buenos Aires that morning to meet with us at Juanicó and to taste through a representative sampling of the wines.

In 1992 Juanicó created Uruguay’s first prestige bottling, the Preludio. It is an oak aged blend of five to six red grapes, selected from only the best barrels after two years of aging. An owner of a bottle of that premier vintage of Preludio reportedly recently offered it for sale for $2500.

In 1996 Juanicó launched the Don Pascual brand, in tribute to Pascual Harriague, the man who brought Tannat to Uruguay. That quickly became the leading brand in the domestic market. That same year they adopted the “roble,” meaning oak, term that is widely used in Spain to distinguish their wines that are oak aged. In 1999, they partnered with the Magrez family that owns Château Pape Clement to produce the Gran Casa Magrez in Uruguay for the French market.

Juanicó’s first sparkling wine, using méthode champenoise, was created in 2001. The following year they introduced their first licor de Tannat, a fortified wine based on Tannat. They also bottled the country’s first single varietal Petit Verdot in 2003 and the first bottling of varietal Marselan—the French crossing of Grenache with Cabernet Sauvignon—in 2005.

Their newest icon wine is the Massimo, a modern style Tannat made in large foudres with manual pigeage. The wine spends 24 months in new French oak barrels and an additional two years in bottle before release. It was first produced in 2000 under the name Cru Garage. That changed to Cru Excepcion and finally to Massimo Deicas, in honor of the founder of the Deicas Family, in 2006.

All the grapes are currently handpicked, although Nicolas reported that labor costs are getting more expensive each year. The winery uses three sorting processes for grapes. Grapes considered “A” and “B” quality go into separate bins as they are picked. When they are delivered to the winery, they go onto a vibrating sorting table. The final step involves a group of ladies making one final pass.

Nicolas showed us the bottling room where they package about 2500 bottles per hour. A laser code is printed toward the bottom of bottle lots there containing all details related to those bottles, including the vineyard source and shipping destinations. When any problems are reported regarding a wine, they can trace it via these codes.

Nicolas explained that over 100 cruise ships visit Montevideo or Punta del Este each year, serving Juanicó wines on board. As an add-on excursion, cruise passengers can opt to visit the winery. They have a large, attractive visitor facility that can serve lunch to a hundred-plus tourists at a time.

Juanicó tasting committee including Santiago Deicas left and Fernando Deicas middle

Juanicó tasting committee including Santiago Deicas left and Fernando Deicas middle


During our visit, we looked in on a tasting committee, which included Fernando Deicas and his son Santiago, as well as Adriana Gutierez, the head of a team of eight oenologists. They were sampling through the 2013 Tannats to determine which were the top quality (“AA” lots) and which should go into barriques. They also tasted some prior vintages for comparison.

We sat down in a room adjacent to the old cellar to taste through the wines with Nicolas, Fernando and Santiago Deicas, and Julio Suarez of TasteVino Selections. We sampled 20 wines in all, including one of their table wines and a couple of barrel samples.

The quality is very good at all price points. Julio explained to us how some of the labels and blends came about in response to what they were hearing from potential customers in the U.S. The Pueblo del Sol Tannat, which sells for about $10 in the U.S., was developed for the U.S. market as a lighter bodied, fruitier Tannat, with advice from a group of sommeliers that included Evan Goldstein and Tim Gaiser. It is now their biggest seller in the U.S. and they have started marketing it in Uruguay as well. The pricier Pubelo del Sol Edicion Limitada 30 Barricas Cosecha, which goes for about $27, was also developed for the U.S. market, using micro-oxygenated lots of Tannat that see about 18 months in French and American oak. It is a silky textured, flavorful offering that I rated 91 points.

At my request, we tried a tetra pak Tannat—the non-vintage Santa Teresa—which sells for about $3.50 per liter. It was fresh, good quality table wine—a major step up from the thin plonk I remembered from the ‘80s.

top wines at Juanicó

top wines at Juanicó


Not surprisingly, the most impressive wines in the portfolio for me were the icon wines. The best of these, for me, is the 2008 Massimo, which I rated 94 points. We also sampled three vintages of the Preludio, which were excellent—especially the 1998, which showed how ageworthy this Bordeaux blend can be. It is only made in years in which all five or six of the component grape varieties do well, so they did not make it in 2001, 2003 or 2008. It spends two and a half years in bottle before release, so at least five years total in barrel and bottle before it goes to market.

I also really liked the fortified Licor de Tannat, which is very rich, complex and tasty. I rated the 2008, which sells for about $45, 93 points.

Marichal

At a much smaller production level—currently 100,000 to 120,000 bottles, which they hope to grow to 250,000—is the family owned and run Marichal.

In 1916, Isabelino Marichal, a descendant of immigrants from the Canary Islands, settled in Etchevarría, which is now part of the Las Violetas area in Canelones. He purchased land on which the family planted fruits and vegetables, including grapes. From 1916 to 1938 he and his wife Filomena sold their grapes, mainly Tannat, to local wineries.

In 1938 the Marichals started producing wine. Son Juan Maximo married María Teresa Gallo Tonelli. Together they added to the vineyards and continued the winemaking business. Of their children, Juan Carlos took over the business. In 1975, he married Lidia Santos, who also came from a family of wine grape growers. In the 1980s, the Marichals joined the movement to make improvements in the vineyards and winemaking.

Juan Andrés and Lidia Marichal

Lidia and Juan Andrés Marichal


Juan Carlos and Lidia’s two sons have received an education in oenology and viticulture and together now make the wines. Juan Andrés, the son who also focuses on marketing, studied oenology in Mendoza, and spent five years there, including a stint at Rutini, maker of the Trumpeter brand. His brother Alejandro went to school in Uruguay and serves as viticulturalist. He also spent four months in California working at V. Sattui and Castello di Amorosa in Napa. Together, they decided to focus on high quality wines. They are now selling to seven countries in Europe, Brazil and Mexico, and have new distribution in the U.S. in Minnesota, Texas and California.

The Marichal family now owns 50 hectares and farms an additional 10 that they will eventually own. About 40% of their vines lie close to the winery while the rest are about two kilometers away. We visited the vineyards near the winery, where the shoot positioning on the 15-16 year old Tannat vines was raised with the aim of allowing greater air flow, to ward off rot and other conditions to which they are susceptible in the area’s humid climate. They use cover crops—grass they plant each year—that quickly drains the water. If it’s a drier year, they cut the grass.

They planted Pinot Noir, using two Dijon clones, in 1999. Their first vintage of Pinot Noir was 2002. They also made an unusual blend of Pinot Noir and Tannat that year, and liked the results, so they have continued it. They subsequently planted Merlot, and find that its skin is resistant to fungus, so that it ripens well. They currently sell about 20 to 30% of their grapes to other producers.

The vinification of the Tannat typically includes cold maceration before fermentation for two to three days, to extract color and aroma but not too much tannin. They then start fermentation and separate the juice from the skins.

Marichal Tannat Grand Reserve "A"

Marichal Tannat Grand Reserve “A”


We tasted through 10 of the Marichal wines. It is a good quality line up including a middle range that is quite reasonably priced. My favorite bottling was the 2009 Tannat Grand Reserve “A,” from older vines. It is approachable now, but should age well for 10 to 15 years. I rated it 91+ points. The 2011 Reserve Pinot Noir was also quite good, exhibiting a floral quality. Their unoaked Chardonnay is a good value priced at $12 to $16 in the U.S., and their unusual Pinot Noir/Chardonnay “blanc de noirs” blend is appealing and a strong seller, going for $16 in Minnesota.

Pisano

Dinner with the Pisanos (photo by Gustavo Pisano)

Dinner with the Pisanos (photo by Gustavo Pisano)


This is, for me, the top producer of quality wines in Uruguay. The wines here—a wide ranging collection, from sparkling to dry whites and reds, to botrytised sweet white and fortified port-style wines–are an incredible value given their richness, depth and complexity.

The three Pisano brothers who work together to produce these remarkable wines are Daniel, Eduardo and Gustavo. They are descended from Italians who made wine in the region of Liguria. They date the family’s history in Uruguay to Francesco Pisano’s arrival in 1870. Cesare Secundino Pisano settled in Canelones in 1914 and planted the family’s first vineyards there in 1916. He produced his first wine in 1924.

The vineyards and modest cellars are located near the town of Progreso in Canelones. They farm 15 hectares there where their grandfather first planted and another 15 hectares five kilometers north.

The plantings are rather high density at 5,000 vines per hectare. Daniel Pisano, who is the most fluent in English and who focuses on marketing for the family, explained that the secret for getting ripe tannins in Tannat is low yields. Instead of the Lyra training system, which tends to maximize yield, they use permanent cordon, which allows for more even ripening.

Daniel told us their grandfather had originally planted Italian varieties—Nebbiolo, Sangiovese and Barbera. He found, though, that his neighbors were producing better wine from what they called Harriague. The family’s oldest remaining vines date back to 1942—the last block the grandfather planted. They replanted most of the early plantings in the 1980s and 1990s with virus free clones.

In addition to Tannat, the vineyards contain primarily Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, along with Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Gewürztraminer. They also grow small amounts of the Brunello di Montalcino clone of Sangiovese, Moscato Giallo, Syrah from Beaucastel, Pinot Noir and Viognier.

Theirs was the first Uruguayan vineyard certified as IPM, practicing nature friendly integrated pest management.

Daniel explained that their grandfather, who only finished third grade, taught them to “make a little wine, good wine, and sell it for a lot.” The brothers have followed this advice, gradually increasing their winemaking volume by three times while multiplying their income 20-fold, according to Daniel. They make about 25 different wines, some of which are only sold to restaurants in Uruguay. They produce an annual 300,000 to 350,000 bottles, exporting about half of that amount to 45 countries.

Their father was the one who learned how to make sparkling wine and purchased their riddling rack, which was imported from France, from Clos St. Anne.

The latest Pisano to make wine is Eduardo’s son Gabriel, who is making terrific wines under his Viña Progreso label. I will cover those in the second part of this report.

outstanding Pisano wines

outstanding Pisano wines


Daniel and his brothers–Gustavo, who oversees the winemaking, and Eduardo, who is more involved with the viticulture–tasted us through 17 wines followed by a wonderful meal made up mostly of roasted vegetables (since they figured we probably hadn’t been getting much in the way of vegetables given Uruguay’s meat-heavy diet). My scores ranged from a low of 90+ for the Pinot-based Brut Nature sparkling wine, and 91+ points for an inexpensive but delicious Pinot Noir, up to 96 points for their remarkably complex Tannat blend, first created in 2000 in honor of their mother and her Basque heritage, the 2006 ArretXea Grand Reserve. I scored most of their wines from 93 to 95 points.

Many of these great wines are available online in the U.S. through TotalWine & More. That includes the delicious Tannat RPF and Cabernet Sauvignon RPF bottlings I rated 93+ and 93 points respectively, that are priced at only $19. That also includes the wonderful Licor de Tannat EtXeOneko, a fabulously complex and powerful port-style wine, half bottles of which are priced at only $40 (95+ points).

Less available here, but I hope that changes, are the varietal bottling of Petit Verdot—the best Petit Verdot varietal wine I’ve ever sampled, at 95 points—and Syrah Reserva RPF (94+ points). Another amazing wine, made in small quantities, is the Axis Mundi Tannat (95 points). And their late harvest wine based on Viognier and Torrontes, the Fabula, also blew me away for its complexity and balance (94 points). Even their sparkling Tannat, savory and deep, like a Lambrusco on steroids, was a remarkable wine. And their Cabernet Franc/Syrah Rosé is one of my favorite rosés of the year so far. It would be a fabulous pairing with a summer gazpacho.

The Pisanos have proven, beyond a doubt, that truly exceptional wines that would be impressive from any region can be made in Uruguay. And at their current pricing, they definitely over deliver. I look forward to following this family’s efforts for many years to come.

Pizzorno

This is another small family operation, dating their winegrowing origins back to 1910. The first generation was led by Próspero José Pizzorno. They are located in the Canelón Chico area, about 20 kilometers from Montevideo.

Carlos Pizzorno took over in 1983. He started the conversion of their vineyards to French vinifera varieties. They now have 22 hectares of vines. Carlos works with agronomic engineer Nestor Merino and a winemaking consultant from New Zealand, Duncan Killiner, who lives in Mendoza.

Carlos and Ana Pizzorno

Carlos and Ana Pizzorno


Carlos married Ana, a doctor, in 1991. Together they are working hard to market the wines and expand their exports. They have also built a new winery facility. Now they produce four lines of wines—eight entry level bottlings under the Don Próspero label; three sparkling wines, including a sparkling Tannat; reserve wines; and a premium wine they launched in 2004 called Primo. Total annual production is about 130,000 bottles.

I was charmed by this hardworking couple, and the wines are good and well priced. My favorite, at 91 points, was the 2010 Tinto Reserva, a blend of Tannat, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot that has good balance and some complexity. The Don Próspero Tannat and Reserva Pinot Noir are also good wines. I rated both 89 points and I see the Tannat selling for the bargain price of $11 in New Jersey, according to WineSearcher.com.

Other Longtime Producers

We visited three other producers that have been in business since at least the 1970s, including two of Uruguay’s three biggest producers, along with Juanicó. Those two giants are Traversa and Irurtia.

Grupo Traversa is Uruguay’s biggest producer, by volume, at about 10 to 12 million liters of wine per year—amounting to 12 to 14% of Uruguay’s total production. They export 17 to 18% of their wines. They own about 360 hectares of vineyards, and plant an additional 10 to 15 hectares each year. Those vineyards provide about 50% of their needs; they buy the rest of their grapes under long term contracts. Traversa was the first winery in Uruguay to employ machine harvesting.

The Traversa family first purchased land in 1904 and sold grapes. They founded the winery in 1956 to make table wines. Since 2001, they started reconverting part of the winery to produce fine wines. From what we tasted, though, they still have some distance to go to be considered a fine wine producer. They produce some simple wines at lower price points that are drinkable, but nothing that I can particularly recommend.

vineyards at Irurtia in Colonia

vineyards at Irurtia in Colonia


Irurtia is one of Uruguay’s oldest wineries. They date their first vintage, produced by Basque immigrant Lorenzo Irurtia, back to 1913. Lorenzo introduced grape growing to Uruguay’s Colonia region, near the city of Carmelo. One of his descendants, Dante Irurtia, took over management of the company in 1954. He traveled to Europe in the 1960s and brought back new ideas and European grapes. They claim he was the first in Uruguay to plant Merlot, with cuttings imported from France, in the late ‘60s. He was also the first to use the Lyra vine training system in Uruguay.

Dante’s children run the company today. They own 250 hectares of vineyards—down from 340 some years back, when they began to uproot vines that were no longer productive or desirable varieties. Their annual production is about two million liters, so Irurtia is third in size after Traversa and Juanicó.

We tasted through 11 of their wines, which are of decent quality. The highest scoring wine for me was a Reserva Gewürztraminer at 89 points. They also make a rather good version of Medio y Medio—a sweet, lightly sparkling traditional wine of Uruguay that could compete well with a lot of Moscatos currently on the market. The wines are competitively priced; I just didn’t find any of them very complex or compelling.

The most disappointing of the longtime producers for me was Juan Toscanini & Hijos S.A. They started making what are now known as table wines about 100 years ago, and currently produce about 500,000 bottles annually, of which they export 20%. They own about 90 hectares of vines.

They claim that 50% of their production is now “fine wine.” I found most of the 13 wines we tasted there, however, to be thin and herbaceous, suggesting they make wine largely from very high yielding vines. I see a few of these wines stocked at stores in New York for $9 a bottle. By far the best of what we tasted there was the icon wine created for their 100-year anniversary in 2004. It is a Tannat that spends 18 months in oak called Antologïa. For me, even though there was some substance to this wine, the oak dominated the nose and palate. I rated it 88 points.

For my tasting notes on the wines from each of these producers that we sampled on the trip, see below:

Top Longtime Producers
Carrau

Carrau Tannats

Carrau Tannats

  • 2009 Bodegas Carrau Sust Brut Nature – Uruguay, Rivera, Cerro Chapeu (4/17/2013)
    Light yellow color with abundant tiny bubbles; appealing, chalk, very tart apple, tart pear nose; creamy textured, very tart pear, tart apple palate, like a fine Cava; medium finish (13% alcohol; 18 mos in oak; 4 grams dosage) 90+ points

  • 2011 Bodegas Carrau Chardonnay Juan Carrau de Reserva Bodegas Carrau – Uruguay, Las Violetas (4/17/2013)
    Light yellow color; apple, tart pear, almond nose; rich, tart apple, tart pear, almond oil palate with good acidity; medium-plus finish (13.5% alcohol; 65% barrel fermented) 91+ points

  • 2012 Bodegas Carrau Sauvignon Blanc Sur Lie – Uruguay, Rivera, Cerro Chapeu (4/17/2013)
    Very light yellow color; appealing, very tart peach, tart pear, ripe citrus nose; tasty, tart pear, tart peach, citrus palate; medium finish (13% alcohol; no oak) 90+ points

  • 2010 Bodegas Carrau 1752 Gran Tradicion Petit Manseng Sauvignon Gris – Uruguay, Montevideo (4/17/2013)
    Light medium yellow color; ripe pineapple, fruit cocktail, almond nose; rich, full bodied, lush, tart pineapple, ripe peach palate; medium-plus finish (1.5% residual sugar; 90% Petit Manseng, 10% Sauvignon Gris; 13.5% alcohol; 10 mos in new French oak) 89+ points

  • 2012 Bodegas Carrau Saignée – Uruguay, Las Violetas (4/17/2013)
    Light medium pink color with pale meniscus; intense, tart cranberry, tart blood orange nose; tasty, tart cranberry, tart blood orange, dried cranberry palate with good acidity; medium-plus finish (13% alcohol; no malo) 91+ points

  • 2011 Bodegas Carrau Pinot Noir Reserva – Uruguay, Rivera, Cerro Chapeu (4/17/2013)
    Dark cherry red color with pale meniscus; appealing, tart cherry, ripe cranberry, light sous bois nose; tasty, tart cranberry, very tart cherry, mineral palate with medium acidity; could age nicely for 6-8 years; medium-plus finish (13% alcohol) 90+ points

  • 2010 Bodegas Carrau Tannat Tannat de Reserva – Uruguay, Las Violetas (4/17/2013)
    Very dark ruby color; a little reduction, lightly smoky, roasted plum nose; tasty, fresh, tart red fruit, raspberry, dried berry, tar palate with a saline quality; medium-plus finish (13.5% alcohol; 25% new French and American oak for 14-18 mos; 6 mos in bottle) 90+ points

  • 1998 Bodegas Carrau Tannat Amat – Uruguay, Rivera, Cerro Chapeu (4/17/2013)
    Bricking opaque purple red violet color; dried black fig, clove, anise nose; tasty, mature, dried plum, anise, dried berry palate; medium-plus finish 91 points

  • 2009 Bodegas Carrau 1752 Gran Tradicion – Uruguay, Rivera, Cerro Chapeu (4/17/2013)
    Very dark maroon color; appealing, tart currant, tart plum, loam, tart black currant nose; balanced, tasty, tart plum, tart black currant, dried currant, iodine palate with good acidity; medium-plus finish (14% alcohol; 40% Tannat, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Cabernet Franc) 91 points

  • 1989 Juan Carrau Tannat Castel Pujol del Museo – Uruguay, Central (4/17/2013)
    Bricking very dark red violet color; mature, truffle, dried shitake mushroom nose reminiscent of an aged Rioja; tasty, mature, iodine, dill, dried shitake mushroom, anise palate; medium-plus finish (11.5% alcohol) 93+ points

  • 2001 Bodegas Carrau Tannat Amat – Uruguay, Rivera, Cerro Chapeu (4/17/2013)
    Opaque purple red violet color; maturing, iodine, mushroom nose; mature, complex, dried berry, mocha, walnut, dried black mushroom, coffee palate; medium-plus finish (13.5% alcohol; 50% French, 50% American oak for 20 months) 92 points

  • 2004 Bodegas Carrau Nebbiolo Vilasar – Uruguay, Canelones, Las Violetas (4/17/2013)
    Very dark ruby color; ripe cherry, dried cherry, black raspberry, tar nose; varietally true, tar, dried cherry, tart black cherry palate with light salinity and good acidity; medium-plus finish (13.5% alcohol) 92+ points

  • 2007 Bodegas Carrau Vivent de Tannat Limited Edition – Uruguay, Canelones (4/17/2013)
    From 500 ml – very dark ruby color; appealing, rich, dried mulberry, Maraschino cherry, chocolate cherry, dried roses nose; tasty, rich, chocolate cherry, dried cherry palate, port-like but lighter bodied; long finish (18 mos in French oak; 18.5% alcohol) 91+ points

Giménez Méndez

Giménez Méndez wines

Giménez Méndez wines

  • 2013 Giménez Méndez Sauvignon Blanc Alta Reserva – Uruguay, Canelones (4/15/2013)
    Light yellow color; tart peach, ripe citrus, light lime nose; tart grapefruit, citrus, mineral palate with medium acidity; medium-plus finish (11.5% alcohol) 88+ points

  • 2011 Giménez Méndez Sauvignon Blanc 100 anos – Uruguay, Canelones (4/19/2013)
    Light yellow color; grapefruit juice, saline nose; juicy, grapefruit juice, saline palate with medium acidity; medium finish 88+ points

  • 2011 Giménez Méndez Malbec Alta Reserva Las Brujas – Uruguay (4/15/2013)
    Very dark ruby color; oak, mocha, ripe berry nose; tart berry, tart cherry palate with firm tannins and good acidity; medium finish (13% alcohol) 87+ points

  • 2011 Giménez Méndez Cabernet Sauvignon 100 Años Reserva Familiar – Uruguay, Canelones (4/15/2013)
    Very dark red violet color; appealing, lifted, cassis, black currant syrup, vanilla nose; ripe berry, tart black currant palate with good acidity; medium finish (14% alcohol) 87 points

  • 2011 Giménez Méndez Identity – Uruguay, Canelones (4/15/2013)
    Dark ruby color; appealing, ripe black fruit, light espresso, chocolate nose; tart black fruit, espresso palate; short-medium finish (13.5% alcohol; 8-9 mos in American and French oak) 88 points

  • 2010 Giménez Méndez Identity – Uruguay, Canelones (4/15/2013)
    Very dark maroon color; appealing, tart black cherry, dark chocolate, ripe black fruit nose; tart black fruit, tar palate with good acidity; medium-plus finish (8 mos in American and French oak) 88+ points

  • 2011 Giménez Méndez Tannat Las Brujas – Uruguay (4/15/2013)
    Appealing, chocolate, ripe blackberry, light lavender nose; rich, savory, tart black fruit, tar palate with balance and firm tannins; medium-plus finish 90 points

  • 2009 Giménez Méndez Tannat Luis A. Gimenez Super Premium – Uruguay, Canelones (4/15/2013)
    Opaque purple red violet color; savory, oak, ripe black fruit, ripe berry, dark chocolate, licorice nose; complex, tart black fruit, licorice, tar palate; needs 3-plus years to integrate; medium-plus finish (aged for 2 years in French and American oak) 91 points

  • 2011 Giménez Méndez Tannat Syrah Viognier Las Brujas – Uruguay, Canelones (4/15/2013)
    Very dark maroon color; fresh, tart berry, light herb nose; tasty, tart black fruit, herbs palate; could use 1 year; medium-plus finish (45% Tannat, 40% Syrah, 5% Viognier) 88+ points

Juanicó

Juanicó wines

Juanicó wines

  • NV Familia Deicas Castelar Brut Reserve – Uruguay, Canelones, Juanicó (4/18/2013)
    Light yellow color with steady small bubbles; appealing, ripe pear, floral, tart peach nose; tasty, tart pear, very tart peach, mineral palate with medium acidity; medium finish (blend of Chardonnay with 5% Viognier) 87 points

  • 2012 Pueblo Del Sol Chardonnay Reserve – Uruguay, Canelones, Juanicó (4/18/2013)
    Light yellow color; appealing, light hazelnut, tart pear nose; tart pear, tart apple, light hazelnut palate with good acidity; medium finish (13.5% alcohol; 3 mos in 2nd and 3rd use oak) 87+ points

  • 2011 Familia Deicas Familia Deicas Preludio Barrel Select Lote no. 12 – Uruguay, Canelones, Juanicó (4/18/2013)
    Light lemon yellow color; appealing, almond, light hazelnut, baked pear nose; tasty, rich but poised, tart pineapple, tart pear, almond, hazelnut palate with good acidity that should also age nicely; medium-plus finish (90% Chardonnay, 10% Viognier and Sauvignon Gris; 13.5% alcohol) 91+ points

  • 2012 Pueblo Del Sol Pinot Noir – Uruguay, Canelones, Juanicó (4/18/2013)
    Dark cherry red color with pale meniscus; tart strawberry, tart cherry nose; tasty, tart strawberry, tart cherry palate with good acidity and balance; medium-plus finish (good value at $10 in U.S.; 12% alcohol) 87+ points

  • NV Santa Teresa Tannat – Uruguay, Canelones, Juanicó (4/18/2013)
    From 1 liter tetra pak – dark ruby color; fresh, ripe currant, tart red berry nose; tasty, fresh ripe currant, tart red berry palate; medium finish 85+ points

  • 2012 Pueblo Del Sol Tannat Rosé – Uruguay, Canelones, Juanicó (4/18/2013)
    Light medium pink orange color; appealing, tart dried orange, lime nose; tasty, balanced, fleshy, tart orange, tart citrus, chalk and mineral palate with good acidity; medium-plus finish (11% alcohol) 91 points

  • 2012 Familia Deicas Atlantico Sur Reserve Garzon vineyard – Uruguay, Paysandú (4/18/2013)
    Very dark ruby color; appealing, tart berry, licorice, toast nose; ripe red fruit, ripe cherry, ripe raspberry palate with integrating oak; medium-plus finish (blend of Tannat, Merlot and Petit Verdot, about 1/3 each; 12.5% alcohol) 89 points

  • 2012 Pueblo Del Sol Cabernet Sauvignon Roble – Uruguay, Canelones, Juanicó (4/18/2013)
    Dark ruby color; appealing, French oak, ripe cassis, berry nose; juicy, ripe raspberry, cassis, pomegranate palate; for drinking up in 1-2 years; medium-plus finish (12.8% alcohol) 88+ points

  • 2012 Pueblo Del Sol Tannat Reserva – Uruguay, Canelones, Juanicó (4/18/2013)
    Very dark ruby color; ripe raspberry, tart cherry nose; tasty, poised, ripe raspberry, tart berry, light oak palate with refined, sweet tannins; medium-plus finish (12.6% alcohol) 88 points

  • 2012 Pueblo Del Sol Tannat – Uruguay, Canelones, Juanicó (4/18/2013)
    Dark ruby color; focused, tart cherry, tart berry, light herb nose; juicy, tart cherry, tart berry palate with good acidity; medium-plus finish (12.5% alcohol; $10 in U.S.) 87 points

  • 2011 Familia Deicas Tannat Atlantico Sur Reserve – Uruguay, Canelones, Juanicó (4/18/2013)
    Dark purple red violet color; baked berry, boysenberry, berry syrup nose; rich, syrupy textured, berry syrup, ripe berry palate; medium-plus finish (14.5% alcohol) 90 points

  • 2007 Familia Deicas Prelúdio – Uruguay, Canelones, Juanicó (4/18/2013)
    Saturated very dark maroon color; appealing, violets, ripe berry, ripe black currant nose; tasty, rich, tight, ripe black currant, tart berry palate with good acidity; could use 2-3 years; long finish (blend of 30-35% Tannat with Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot and a little Marselan) 93 points

  • 1999 Familia Deicas Prelúdio – Uruguay, Canelones, Juanicó (4/18/2013)
    Very dark red violet color; mature, dried mushroom, tobacco, dried shitakes, beef gravy nose; tasty, mature, tobacco, tart black currant, sauteed mushroom palate with fine, resolving tannins; medium-plus finish 92 points

  • 2008 Familia Deicas Tannat Massimo Deicas Cru – Uruguay, Canelones, Juanicó (4/18/2013)
    Nearly opaque red violet color; very appealing, ripe berry, violets, tart cherry nose; concentrated, delicious, poised, ripe berry, blackberry, violets palate needs 4-5 years and should age well; long finish (100% Tannat; 80% 1 year in new oak) 94 points

  • 1998 Familia Deicas Prelúdio – Uruguay, Canelones, Juanicó (4/18/2013)
    Slightly bricking dark purple red violet color; appealing, mature, truffle, mushroom, ripe berry, ash, roast lamb nose; tasty, complex, poised, tart berry, violets, dried berry, iodine palate; medium-plus finish 93+ points

  • 2009 Pueblo Del Sol Tannat Edicion Limitada 30 Barricas Cosecha – Uruguay, Canelones, Juanicó (4/18/2013)
    Saturated very dark red violet color; appealing, tart berry, ripe black fruit, black fig, dried fig nose; tasty, silky textured, tight, tart blackberry, tart black currant, dried berry, violets palate; could use 1-2 years; medium-plus finish (14.5% alcohol; 18 mos in French and American oak) 91 points

  • 2010 Pueblo Del Sol Tannat Licor de Tannat – Uruguay, Canelones, Juanicó (4/18/2013)
    From 500 ml – very dark purple red violet color; appealing, violets, ripe black cherry, ripe berry, anise nose; rich, ripe berry, black cherry, port-like but light on its feet; long finish (20% alcohol) 91 points

  • 2008 Familia Deicas Tannat Licor de Tannat – Uruguay, Canelones, Juanicó (4/18/2013)
    From 500 ml – Very dark maroon color; rich, port-like, baked berry, violets, fudge nose; rich, poised, tasty, ripe berry, baked berry, dried berry, mulberry, licorice, espresso palate with good acidity; long finish (20% alcohol) 93 points

Marichal

  • 2012 Bodega Marichal Reserve Collection Pinot Noir / Chardonnay – Uruguay, Canelones (4/15/2013)
    Light orange color; strawberry cream, tart cherry nose; unusual, tart cherry, light cherry cream, lightly leesy, lemon palate with a touch of oak and good acidity; medium-plus finish (60% Pinot Noir, 40% Chardonnay; 65% barrel fermented; 13% alcohol) 90+ points

  • 2012 Bodegas Marichal e Hijo Chardonnay – Uruguay, Canelones (4/15/2013)
    Light yellow color; tart pear, almond nose; fresh, crisp, tart pear palate with medium acidity; medium finish (12.5% alcohol; unoaked) 90 points

  • 2013 Bodega Marichal Sauvignon Blanc Premium Varietal – Uruguay, Canelones (4/15/2013)
    Tank sample – cloudy, very light yellow color; tart peach, citrus nose; crisp, clean, very tart citrus, tart grapefruit palate with medium acidity; medium finish 88-90 points

  • 2011 Bodega Marichal Pinot Noir Reserve Collection – Uruguay, Canelones (4/15/2013)
    Medium ruby color; fresh, ripe cherry, cherry pie, lightly floral nose; tasty, pretty, tart cherry, pomegranate, floral, ripe cranberry palate with good balance; medium-plus finish (80% aged 12 mos in oak) 91 points

  • 2011 Bodega Marichal Pinot Noir/Tannat – Uruguay, Canelones (4/15/2013)
    Very dark ruby color; tart red berry, tart cherry, ripe black fruit nose; tasty, soft, fresh, cherry, tart berry palate with good acidity; medium finish (13.5% alcohol; 70% Pinot Noir, 30% Tannat) 88+ points

  • 2011 Bodega Marichal Merlot Premium Varietal – Uruguay, Canelones (4/15/2013)
    Medium dark ruby color; tart cherry, tart red fruit nose; tart cherry, ripe pomegranate palate; short-medium finish (13% alcohol; 4% barrel, 96% aged without oak) 87 points

  • 2009 Bodega Marichal Tannat Grand Reserve “A” – Uruguay, Canelones (4/15/2013)
    Very dark maroon color; appealing, unusual, ripe blackberry, black cherry, baked berry, violets nose; rich, poised, fresh, tart black cherry, blackberry palate; approachable now and should go 10-15 years; medium-plus finish (13.5% alcohol; 18 mos in new oak; from 34 yr old vines) 91+ points

  • 2005 Bodega Marichal Tannat Reserve Collection – Uruguay, Canelones (4/15/2013)
    Very dark maroon color; appealing, maturing, spicy black fruit, clove, licorice nose; rich, tasty, poised, baked berry, ripe berry, ripe black fruit palate with sweet, plush tannins; medium-plus finish 90+ points

  • 2011 Bodega Marichal Tannat Premium Varietal – Uruguay, Canelones (4/15/2013)
    Saturated very dark maroon color; appealing, tart cherry, red berry, lightly herbal nose; tart cherry, dried berry, tart cranberry palate with good acidity; drinkable now; medium-plus finish (13.5% alcohol; 20% new oak) 88+ points

  • 2011 Bodega Marichal Tannat Reserve Collection – Uruguay, Canelones (4/15/2013)
    Very dark ruby color; baked berry, sweet dark chocolate, tart black fruit nose; rich, baked black fruit, tart cherry, lightly smoky palate; approachable nose; medium-plus finish (13% alcohol; 70% in American and French oak for 12 mos) 89 points

Pisano

Pisano sweet wines

Pisano sweet wines

  • 2011 Pisano Pinot Noir Río de Los Pájaros Reserve Brut Nature – Uruguay, Progreso (4/18/2013)
    Light medium orange pink color with .5 millimeter clear meniscus and lots of steady, tiny bubbles; ripe strawberry, lime, green herb nose; rich, tart cherry, tart cranberry palate; medium-plus finish (13.5% alcohol) 90+ points

  • 2012 Pisano Torrontés Río de Los Pájaros Reserve – Uruguay, Progreso (4/18/2013)
    Light yellow color; very mineral, chalk, tart citrus nose; very tasty, minerally, tart citrus, lemon, tart grapefruit palate with medium acidity; medium-plus finish (13.5% alcohol; reminiscent of a Sancerre) 92 points

  • 2012 Pisano Cabernet Franc/Syrah Rosé Reserve – Uruguay, Central (4/18/2013)
    Medium pink color with pale meniscus; appetizing, tart currant, tomato juice nose; tasty, tart tomato juice, very tart currant, saline palate with medium acidity; medium-plus finish (14% alcohol; would be fabulous with a summer gazpacho; very good value at about $14) 92+ points

  • 2011 Pisano Pinot Noir Río de Los Pájaros Reserve – Uruguay, Progreso (4/18/2013)
    Medium dark red violet color; reductive, very tart cherry, tart berry nose; tightly coiled, tart cherry, mineral, tart cranberry palate with medium acidity; could use 1-2 years bottle age; medium-plus finish (13.5% alcohol) 91+ points

  • 2000 Pisano Merlot RPF (Reserva Personal de la Familia) – Uruguay, Progreso (4/18/2013)
    Bricking very dark red violet color; mature, tobacco, tart black fruit, loamy nose; tasty, tart black fruit, black prune, tobacco palate with good balance; medium-plus finish (12.5% alcohol) 92+ points

  • 2011 Pisano Tannat Río de Los Pájaros Reserve Brut Nature – Uruguay, Progreso (4/18/2013)
    Opaque purple red violet color; appealing, savory, pepper, tar, very tart black fruit, oregano nose; tasty, tar, very tart black fruit, tart beets, iodine palate; like a Lambrusco on steroids; medium-plus finish (13.5% alcohol) 92 points

  • 2011 Pisano Tannat/Syrah/Viognier – Uruguay, Progreso (4/18/2013)
    Very dark ruby color; savory, dried beef, meaty, tar, charcoal nose; tasty, savory, tart roasted meat, tar, meat drippings palate with firm tannins; medium-plus finish (13.5% alcohol; 55% Tannat, 40% Syrah, 5% Viognier) 92+ points

  • 2006 Pisano ArretXea Grand Reserve – Uruguay, Progreso (4/18/2013)
    Very dark red violet color; very appealing, black currant, licorice, ripe blackberries, mulberry, dried fig, fudge nose; rich, tasty, complex, tart berry, tart blackberry, licorice, mineral, saline palate with good balancing acidity; medium-plus finish (14% alcohol; 90% Tannat with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot; astonishing quality for the $35 price) 96 points

  • 2008 Pisano Cabernet Sauvignon RPF (Reserva Personal de la Familia) – Uruguay, Progreso (4/18/2013)
    Very dark red violet color; tart black currant, loam, ripe black fruit nose; rich, ripe black currant, tart blackberry, tart black fruit palate; medium-plus finish (14% alcohol) 93+ points

  • 2009 Pisano Tannat RPF (Reserva Personal de la Familia) – Uruguay, Progreso (4/18/2013)
    Very dark purple red violet color; rich, ripe blackberry, mulberry, deep black fruit, dark chocolate nose; rich, tasty, plush, mulberry, blackberry, tart chocolate palate with good balance; medium-plus finish 93 points

  • 2010 Pisano Tannat Río de Los Pájaros Reserve – Uruguay, Progreso (4/18/2013)
    Very dark ruby color; brooding, roasted plum, tar, charcoal nose; tasty, liquid pepper, tart roasted black fruit, tar, charcoal, green olive palate; could use 2-3 years bottle age; medium-plus finish (13.5% alcohol) 93 points

  • 2002 Pisano Tannat Axis Mundi – Uruguay, Progreso (4/18/2013)
    Opaque purple red violet color; appealing, tar, dried berry, mulberry, espresso nose; rich, tasty, tart blackberry, tart black currant, violets, dried berry, espresso palate; long finish (15% alcohol) 95 points

  • 2008 Pisano Shiraz RPF (Reserva Personal de la Familia) – Uruguay, Progreso (4/18/2013)
    Very dark purple red violet color; appealing, mulberry, violets, baked black fruit, ripe blackberry nose; delicious, rich but complex, tart blackberry, mulberry, iodine, dried blackberry, herbs, anise, saline palate; long finish (14% alcohol) 94+ points

  • 2008 Pisano Petit Verdot RPF (Reserva Personal de la Familia) – Uruguay, Progreso (4/18/2013)
    Nearly opaque purple red violet color; very appealing, graphite, violets, tart blackberry nose; rich, complex, delicious, tar, dried black fruit, pencil lead, blackberry palate; long finish (14% alcohol; best varietal bottling of PV I’ve ever tasted) 95 points

  • 2002 Pisano Tannat Gran Reserva Oculta Don César – Uruguay, Canelones (4/18/2013)
    Opaque red violet color with red violet meniscus; appealing, tar, tart black fruit, espresso, roasted fruit, portobello mushroom nose; tasty, espresso, roasted black fruit, coffee, portobello mushroom palate with good acidity; medium-plus finish 93 points

  • 2006 Pisano Fabula Late Harvest – Uruguay, Progreso (4/18/2013)
    From 375 ml – medium golden amber color with orange lights; appealing, baked apricot, tart peach nose; juicy, baked apricot, tart peach cobbler, nutmeg, Orange Julius, ripe cherry, Rainier cherry, orange liqueur palate with good acidity; medium-plus finish (13% alcohol; blend of late harvest Viognier and Torrontes aged 6 mos in French oak) 94 points

  • 2007 Pisano EtXe Oneko Beltza Likore – Uruguay, Progreso (4/18/2013)
    From 375 ml – opaque black red violet color; dried black fruit, salty, dried fig, espresso nose; concentrated, salty dried prune, dried black fig, black currant, tart blackberry, chocolate syrup palate with a sense of salinity; long finish (16.5% alcohol) 95+ points

Pizzorno

Pizzorno lineup

Pizzorno lineup

  • NV Bodega Carlos Pizzorno Reserva Brut Nature – Uruguay, Canelones (4/17/2013)
    Light yellow color with several steady columns of small bubbles; appealing, lightly yeasty, biscuity, tart pear nose; medium bodied, yeasty, almond, lightly saline, mineral palate with medium acidity; medium-plus finish (50% Chardonnay, 50% Pinot Noir; 2 years on lees; 13.5% alcohol) 89 points

  • NV Bodega Carlos Pizzorno Brut Vino Espumoso Natural – Uruguay, Canelones (4/17/2013)
    Light yellow color with steady, speedy tiny bubbles; appealing, tart pear, lemon nose; tasty, medium bodied, tart citrus, grapefruit, mineral palate with medium acidity; medium finish (13.5% alcohol; 90% Chardonnay, 10% Sauvignon Blanc; 12 mos on the lees) 88+ points

  • NV Bodega Carlos Pizzorno Brut Nature Rosé – Uruguay, Canelones (4/14/2013)
    Light medium yellow pink color with lots of speedy, tiny bubbles; strawberry cream, cherry cream nose; tart strawberry cream, chalk palate with medium acidity; medium-plus finish 88 points

  • 2013 Bodega Carlos Pizzorno Sauvignon Blanc Don Próspero – Uruguay, Canelones (4/17/2013)
    Tank sample – cloudy, light yellow color; intense, tart grapefruit, lightly smoky nose; fresh, tart peach, tart pear palate; medium finish 87-89 points

  • 2011 Bodega Carlos Pizzorno Sauvignon Blanc Reserva – Uruguay, Canelones (4/17/2013)
    Very light yellow color; ripe gooseberry, ripe lime nose; tart gooseberry, ripe lime, mineral palate; medium finish (30% fermented in barrique; 13% alcohol) 89 points

  • 2012 Bodega Carlos Pizzorno Don Próspero Merlot Rosé – Uruguay, Canelones (4/17/2013)
    Light medium orange pink color; light, tart tomato juice, dried orange, tart currant nose; medium bodied, tart currant, tart tomato water palate with good acidity; medium finish (13% alcohol) 88 points

  • 2011 Bodega Carlos Pizzorno Don Próspero Tannat Malbec – Uruguay, Canelones (4/17/2013)
    Dark red violet color; tart plum, light chocolate, ripe black fruit nose; tasty, fresh tart berry, ripe black fruit palate with balance; medium finish (50% Tannat, 50% Malbec; 13.5% alcohol) 87+ points

  • 2011 Bodega Carlos Pizzorno Don Próspero Tannat Merlot – Uruguay, Canelones (4/17/2013)
    Very dark ruby color; lightly smoky, roasted plum, mulberry nose; light-medium bodied, tart plum, anise palate with medium acidity; medium finish (13.5% alcohol) 87 points

  • 2011 Bodega Carlos Pizzorno Pinot Noir Don Próspero – Uruguay, Canelones (4/17/2013)
    Dark cherry red color; tart cherry, black cherry, black raspberry nose; tasty, intense, tart black cherry, tart black raspberry, subtle spice palate with medium acidity; medium-plus finish (13.5% alcohol) 89 points

  • 2006 Bodega Carlos Pizzorno Primo – Uruguay, Canelones, Canelón Chico (4/17/2013)
    Opaque purple red violet color; violets, pencil lead, very tart black currant, dried fig nose; tart black fruit, tar, dried black currant, pencil lead palate; medium-plus finish (50% Tannat, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot; 13% alcohol; 12 mos in French oak) 90+ points

  • 2011 Bodega Carlos Pizzorno Tannat Don Próspero – Uruguay, Canelones (4/17/2013)
    Dark ruby color; appealing, spicy, tart berry, dried berry, licorice nose; very tart berry, very tart plum, green herbs palate with medium acidity and relatively soft tannins; medium finish (13.5% alcohol) 89 points

  • 2010 Bodega Carlos Pizzorno Tannat Reserva – Uruguay, Canelones (4/17/2013)
    Very dark purple red violet color; lightly smoky, roasted berry, licorice nose; tasty, tart black fruit, anise, baked berry, black raspberry palate; medium finish (13% alcohol; 12 mos in American oak and 1 year in bottle) 88+ points

  • 2010 Bodega Carlos Pizzorno Tinto Reserva – Uruguay, Canelones (4/17/2013)
    Nearly opaque red violet color; appealing, tart black fruit, pencil lead, tart black currant nose; tasty, tart black currant, mineral, pencil lead palate; medium-plus finish (60% Tannat, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot; 13.5% alcohol; 1 year in French oak and 1 year in bottle) 91 points

Other Longtime Producers

Irurtia

  • 2011 Dante Irurtia Viognier Roble Reserva – Uruguay, Carmelo (4/16/2013)
    Light lemon yellow color; oak, tart pear, lemon nose; a little heavy, tart lemon palate; medium finish (13.5% alcohol) 86 points

  • 2012 Dante Irurtia Sauvignon Blanc Km.0 Reserva – Uruguay, Carmelo (4/16/2013)
    Light lemon yellow color; tart peach, citrus nose; tart citrus palate with medium acidity; medium finish (12.8% alcohol) 86 points

  • 2006 Dante Irurtia Gewürztraminer Botrytis Excellence Vendange Tardive – Uruguay, Carmelo (4/16/2013)
    From 500 ml – light medium amber color; appealing, baked apricot, golden brown sugar nose; tart apricot, tart baked apricot, tart fruit cocktail syrup, lychee nut palate with some acidity; long finish (13.5% alcohol) 85 points

  • 2012 Dante Irurtia Gewürztraminer Km.0 Reserva – Uruguay, Carmelo (4/16/2013)
    Bright canary yellow color; aromatic, floral, honeysuckle, tart peach nose; tasty, honeysuckle, tart peach, mineral palate with good acidity; medium finish (12.5% alcohol) 89 points

  • 2008 Dante Irurtia Tannat Roble Gran Reserva – Uruguay, Carmelo (4/16/2013)
    Very dark purple red violet color; oak, Bourbon, ripe black currant nose; ripe black currant, tar palate with largely resolved tannins; medium-plus finish (14% in 90% American oak, 10% French) 88 points

  • 2011 Dante Irurtia Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva Single Vineyard – Uruguay, Carmelo (4/16/2013)
    Dark ruby color; appealing, lifted, tart currant, menthol nose; tasty, tart currant, menthol, herbaceous palate with medium acidity; medium-plus finish (13.5% alcohol) 88 points

  • NV Dante Irurtia Medio y Medio – Uruguay, Carmelo (4/16/2013)
    Light yellow color with a lot of medium sized bubbles; appealing, ripe pear, honeysuckle nose; buoyant, ripe pear, honeysuckle palate with good acidity; medium finish (10.5% alcohol) 88+ points

  • 2010 Dante Irurtia Pinot Noir Gran Reserva Carmelo – Uruguay, Colonia (4/16/2013)
    Medium dark cherry red color; oak, dried cherry, iodine nose; tart cranberry palate with medium acidity and drying tannins; medium finish (12 mos in oak) 87 points

  • 2011 Dante Irurtia Tannat Reserva Single Vineyard – Uruguay, Carmelo (4/16/2013)
    Very dark ruby color; tart black currant, very tart black fruit, savory, saline nose; tar, tart black fruit, dried black fruit palate with near medium acidity and drying tannins; medium-plus finish (90% Tannat, 10% Marselan; 13.8% alcohol) 87 points

  • 2007 Dante Irurtia S.A. de Coleccion – Uruguay, Carmelo (4/16/2013)
    Very dark purple red violet color; port-like, dried fruit, dried fig, Fig Newton, coffee, dried apricot nose; mature, dried black fig, spicy black plum palate with low acidity; medium finish (14.3% alcohol; about 1 year in oak) 85 points

  • NV Dante Irurtia Km.0 Cuvee Gran Reserva Edicion Limitada – Uruguay, Carmelo (4/16/2013)
    Very dark purple red violet color; vanilla oak, baked berry, tart black currant nose; soft, baked black fruit, smoke, oak palate with soft tannins, lacking acidity; medium finish (13.9% alcohol; 50% Tannat, 30% Marselan, 20% Cabernet Franc) 84 points

Toscanini & Hijos

Toscanini packaging

Toscanini packaging

  • NV Juan Toscanini & Hijos Extra Brut Espumoso Natural – Uruguay, Canelones (4/17/2013)
    Light yellow color with abundant, speedy, medium-sized bubbles; chalk, tart lime nose; rich, tart lime, tart melon, chalk palate; medium finish (12.5% alcohol; methode champenoise) 86 points

  • 2010 Juan Toscanini & Hijos Chardonnay Reserva – Uruguay, Canelones (4/17/2013)
    Light medium yellow color; ripe pear, banana, pineapple nose; ripe lemon, tart banana palate; medium finish (10 mos in new French oak; 13% alcohol) 83 points

  • 2012 Juan Toscanini & Hijos Sauvignon Blanc Classic – Uruguay, Canelones (4/17/2013)
    Light medium yellow color; tart citrus, chalk nose; tart citrus, chalk palate with medium acidity; medium-plus finish 85+ points

  • 2012 Juan Toscanini & Hijos Tannat Rosé Classic – Uruguay, Canelones (4/17/2013)
    Medium dark orange color; ripe blood orange, cantaloupe nose; cantaloupe, tart blood orange palate; medium finish (2.9 grams RS) 85+ points

  • 2011 Juan Toscanini & Hijos Tannat Merlot – Uruguay, Canelones (4/17/2013)
    Dark ruby color; lifted, tart green herb, green olive nose; tart green olive, tart currant palate with medium acidity; medium finish (60% Tannat, 40% Merlot; 12.5% alcohol) 83 points

  • 2011 Juan Toscanini & Hijos Cabernet Sauvignon Classic Paso Cuello – Uruguay (4/17/2013)
    Dark ruby color; tart currant, herbaceous, green olive nose; tart currant, green olive palate with medium acidity; medium finish (12.4% alcohol) 84 points

  • 2010 Juan Toscanini & Hijos Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva Paso Cuello – Uruguay (4/17/2013)
    Very dark red violet color; oak, toast, charcoal nose; toast, oak, roasted plum palate; needs 1-plus year; medium finish (13.4% alcohol; 7 mos in French and 7 mos in American oak) 83 points

  • 2010 Juan Toscanini & Hijos Tannat Antalogïa Paso Cuello – Uruguay, Canelones (4/17/2013)
    Opaque purple red violet color; toasty, dried berry, coffee extract, ginger cake nose; coffee extract, ginger cake, mocha palate with medium acidity; needs 2-3 years; medium-plus finish (14% alcohol; 18 months in oak) 88 points

  • NV Juan Toscanini & Hijos Rendibú Vino de Solera Paso Cuello – Uruguay, Canelones (4/17/2013)
    From 500 ml – light medium yellow color; oxidative, light nut oil, green olive nose; oxidative, sweet almond oil, green almond palate; medium-plus finish (60% Sauvignon Blanc, 40% Chardonnay; 15.8% alcohol) 87 points

  • 2006 Juan Toscanini & Hijos Adagio Espressivo – Uruguay, Canelones (4/17/2013)
    Very dark purple red violet color; mature, oaky, dried berry nose; mature, oak, coconut, baked black fruit palate with medium acidity and drying, firm tannins; could use 2-plus years; medium-plus finish (30% Cabernet Franc, 30% Merlot, 25% Tannat, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon; 13.5% alcohol) 85 points

  • 2010 Juan Toscanini & Hijos Tannat Reserva – Uruguay, Canelones (4/17/2013)
    Very dark purple red violet color; toast, oak, green peppercorn nose; tight, velvety textured, green peppercorn, toast, oak palate; medium-plus finish 85 points

  • 2011 Juan Toscanini & Hijos Tannat Classic – Uruguay, Canelones (4/17/2013)
    Very dark ruby color; tart currant nose; tart currant, tart cherry palate; short-medium finish (13.5% alcohol) 83+ points

  • NV Juan Toscanini & Hijos Tannat Licor de Tannat Rendibú Paso Cuello – Uruguay, Canelones (4/17/2013)
    From 500 ml – very dark purple red violet color; smoky, tart blackberry, black fig, sweet dark chocolate nose; syrupy, cloying, black currant, black cherry, licorice palate; medium-plus finish (15.4% alcohol; 15 mos in American oak) 85 points

Traversa

  • 2012 Traversa Blanco – Uruguay, Canelones (4/19/2013)
    Light yellow color; VA, tart lemon, paint thinner nose; very tart lemon palate with medium acidity; short finish (14% alcohol; sold as “Prime” in the U.S.) 75 points

  • 2010 Traversa Merlot Viña Salort Roble Reserva – Uruguay, Canelones (4/19/2013)
    Medium red violet color; tart currant, tart plum nose; tart currant, very tart plum palate with medium acidity; medium finish (13.5% alcohol) 86 points

  • 2010 Traversa Merlot Faisan Reserva Privada – Uruguay, Canelones (4/19/2013)
    Dark purple red violet color; herbaceous, tart currant nose; light bodied, very tart currant, herbaceous, olive palate with medium acidity; short-medium finish (12% alcohol) 82 points

  • 2010 Traversa Tannat Viña Salort Tannat Roble – Uruguay, Canelones (4/19/2013)
    Medium dark purple red violet color; tart plum nose; medium bodied, tart plum, tart berry palate with a sense of salinity and medium acidity; medium-plus finish (13% alcohol) 86 points

  • 2011 Traversa Noble Alianza – Uruguay, Canelones (4/19/2013)
    Dark purple red violet color; tart plum, tart berry nose; tart plum, tart currant, cedar palate with medium acidity; medium finish (50% Tannat, 30% Marselan, 20% Merlot; 13.5% alcohol) 86 points

  • 2011 Traversa Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva – Uruguay, Canelones (4/19/2013)
    Medium dark red violet color; tart currant, cedar nose; tart currant, herbaceous palate with medium acidity; medium finish (4-5 mos in 2nd use American oak) 84 points

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10 Responses leave one →
  1. June 18, 2013

    Great write up RJ! I’m gonna have to look for wines of Uruguay!!

  2. Richard Jennings permalink*
    June 18, 2013

    Thank you Martin. I’ve got some Pisanos we might try together in the coming months.

  3. June 24, 2013

    Underpinning the development of Uruguay’s quality wine production is a significant quantity of bulk rose wine, made mostly from Black Muscat ( Muscat Hamburg ). Behemoth Brazil , immediately to the north, has traditionally been a key export focus for Uruguayan wines, although as the quality improves, doors are opening all over the world market.

  4. June 24, 2013

    Note: as can be seen from the winery paragraphs, below, the promotion of tannat in South America is decidedly anti-oxidant-driven, as I found out on my last trip to Brazil. Tannat from Uruguay was being touted as the wine that was best for your health due to purportedly high levels of anti-oxidants. Accordingly, at least while I was there in December, tannat was flying off the shelves.

  5. June 29, 2013

    Underpinning the development of Uruguay’s quality wine production is a significant quantity of bulk rose wine, made mostly from Black Muscat ( Muscat Hamburg ). Behemoth Brazil , immediately to the north, has traditionally been a key export focus for Uruguayan wines, although as the quality improves, doors are opening all over the world market.

  6. July 21, 2013

    First of all I would like to say excellent blog! I had a quick question in which I’d like to ask if you do not mind. I was curious to know how you center yourself and clear your thoughts before writing. I have had a difficult time clearing my thoughts in getting my ideas out. I truly do enjoy writing however it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes are generally wasted simply just trying to figure out how to begin. Any recommendations or hints? Kudos!

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