The global choices in wine continue to grow, with Uruguay as the next exciting place to explore. The South American country has an ideal climate for grape growing and shares many similarities with other fine wine regions in the world.
Situated in the Southern Hemisphere on the 34th parallel, Uruguay has an ideal balance of sun, rainfall, temperature and gentle hills, requiring little if any artificial irrigation. This balance is influenced by Atlantic breezes, much like the Bordeaux region of France, but with the intensity of sunlight similar to Argentina and Chile.
Not only does Uruguay offer unique growing conditions, it also has a niche almost all to itself, the tannat grape. It’s a little-known variety originally grown in southwest France and introduced into the country in the late 1800s. It’s considered the national variety, adapting itself perfectly to the local soil and climate. The grape represents a third of all wine produced in Uruguay.
The tannat grape has been known for its extremely high tannins (which also explains how the grape got its name) and often needs extensive aging or blending with other grapes just to soften. But Uruguayan winemakers are producing a more approachable wine with a lower alcohol content.
The thick skins of the grape give the wine a deep color. It has the rich flavors of chocolate, spice and raspberry. This new tannat will be the exceptional style the world will be seeing more of before long.
- 2010 Pizzorno Don Prospero Tannat, Uruguay (about $12 retail)
- 2009 Pizzorno Reserva Tannat, Uruguay (about $19 retail)