I was invited to a wine/food pairing dinner at Barlees showcasing the wines of Uruguay. Going into the dinner I knew very little of this wine producing country other than it’s “signature” grape was an extremely tannic grape called Tannat.
Tannat is originally from the Southwest of France (Madiran and Irouléguy) but, like Malbec, it is stepping out of it’s French supporting role (as a blending grape) and is achieving great success as a single varietal, when grown in a new location.
Uruguay is between the 33rd and 35th parallel and shares much, in terms of climate, and growing conditions, with other great winemaking regions:
Influenced by maritime breezes like Bordeaux, the wines are generally lower in alcohol with good acidity. Unlike Bordeaux, and more like Argentina/Chile, the intensity of the sun is much greater producing very ripe (pure) fruit flavors.
Sounds like a perfect combination of Old World/New World…but do the wines deliver?
Yes, these wines are delicious !
Presented by 3rd Generation winemaker Santiago Deicas, his family wines ran the gamut from crisp, easy drinking whites to HUGE, tannic reds. But to my surprise, even the fullest bodied wine (probably the 2010 Tannat) had smooth, round tannins and excellent purity of fruit. Each wine paired spectacularly with food.
These are NOT New World cocktail cabernets.
Pueblo del Sol Viognier- served before dinner this wine has good minerality and acidity. Very pronounced tree fruits- apples, peaches, apricots. 40% in oak barrels. Is this really from Uruguay?
Pueblo del Sol Sauvignon Blanc 2011- Crisp with no overt juicyfruit (New Zealand) flavors Also, no grassiness or cat pee either. Reminds me of a balanced Loire Valley Sauvignon. Delicious with the crab and watermelon salad.
Pueblo del Sol Tannat Rose- Medium-full bodied, with beautiful minerality. It was excellent when paired with grilled shrimp but had enough stuffing to also stand up to the next course- moroccan spiced meatballs. One of my favorite wines !
Pueblo de Sol 2010 Tannat- Dark color but short maceration-1 week. No green (unripe) flavors. Pure fruit expression. Hand harvested. I really expected the tannins to be harsh and overwhelming but this wine drank beautifully without being decanted.
This is so much more wine, than anything we produce in America, for under $15!
Don Pascaul 2007 Reserve Tannat- Another delicious wine that is still very young but has smooth tannins and very ripe, focused red/black fruit flavors.
Strange but true: the Tannat grape has one more seed than any other grape.
Don Pascaul 2000 1st Cru Tannat- We were very lucky that Santiago allowed us to drink this one-only 1000 bottles produced. All of the Tannats demonstrated their distinctive flavor (FIGS) but this one also had well developed tertiary flavors of a fine Bordeaux- dried flowers, mushrooms.
A stunning wine, which clearly demonstrates that Tannat can age well.
Don Pascaul Tannat dessert wine 2004. An interesting dessert wine that paired perfectly with chocolate mousse- seriously.
Inside word from the winemaker. 2012 is an excellent vintage for Tannat in Uruguay, so seek them out.
For more information on this excellent winemaker and their wines, here are some links:
NY/NJ Wine Distributor: