This summer, I was invited to, but missed, the Wines of Uruguay tasting tour. Happily, the good folks at Charles Communications sent me some wines to taste after the fact. It’s taken us some time to taste through the selections, red and white, but haste makes waste, and we definitely wanted to give these wines their due.
Uruguay is located in the same latitudes as winegrowing regions in Argentina, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. Producing 10 million cases of wine annually (from i22,000 acres of vines). Uruguayan wine is not well-known for its wines internationally, due to the fact that 95% of the wine is consumed domestically.
Many Uruguayan vineyards are small in size, allowing careful attention both during the growing season, when many are dry farmed, through to the harvest, when many of the grapes are picked by hand. When I think of Uruguayan wines, I think of Tannat. since the country is the world’s largest producer of Tannat with approximately 7,200 acres planted. Red varietals make up the bulk of plantings, with Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon the most popular after Tannat. Other reds include Cabernet Franc,Tempranillo, Syrah, Zinfandel, Petit Verdot, Sangiovese, Pinot Noir, Nebbiolo, and Marselan. Though not as commonly planted, white varietals include Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Semillón, with Viognier, Albariño, Petit Manseng, and Roussanne also represented.
After having tasted a few wines at the 2013 Wine Bloggers Conference, I had hoped to get a chance to taste more, so this was an amazing opportunity. Having tasted through the dozen bottles sent to us, I can see that a lot more tasting is in order. From those two sampling opportunities, I can say a few generalities about Uruguayan wines. The reds show plenty of dark fruit, forest and earth components, with flashes of both dark and red berries. There are plenty of tannins, though usually soft and integrated, so these reds drink respectably now and should reward cellaring for a few years or more. In either case, I highly recommend decanting these wines to allow them to open more quickly. If you haven't had the opportunity to taste wines of Uruguay, they are well worth searching out for their unique qualities and good taste.
For more information on the wineries represented on the tour, check out the Wines of Uruguay tour website.
Wines provided for tasting purposes - all opinions are my own.
Founded in 2003, Charles Communications Associates, LLC is an independent creative marketing communications and public relations firm based in San Francisco, California, that helps local and global companies create, build and launch brands.
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