Uruguay’s Rising Red and White Grapes

Looking for something different from South America? Take note of Tannat and Albariño.

In recent decades, South American wine, particularly Malbec from Argentina and Cabernet Sauvignon from Chile, has earned a spot at American dinner tables.

But if you want to explore the ­contintent’s wines beyond Argentinean and Chilean vino, head to Uruguay, a country lodged between Brazil and Argentina. Unbeknownst to most aficionados, Uruguay has a long history with wine.

Uruguay mapTannat, which hails from the Madiran region of southern France, has emerged as Uruguay’s signature red wine. First planted in Uruguay in 1870, the country boasts approximately 5,500 acres of this tough-skinned grape, which has adapted to a terroir defined by warm Atlantic breezes, fertile soils and early harvests.

It’s an excellent partner for steak, as much the Uruguayan national dish as it is in Argentina. Tannat from regions ranging from Carmelo in the west to Canelones near Montevideo to easterly Garzón is fleshier and more friendly than Madiran, but with enough tannic bite and acidity to go with meat.

As for white wines, Albariño, first planted in Uruguay only in 2002, is showing some of the qualities the grape exhibits in its native Galicia. Good examples, and there are only a few as Uruguay has just over 100 acres of Albariño, show leesy, floral characteristics or overt freshness supported by steely acidity.

Alberto Antonini, consulting ­winemaker to Bodega Garzón, says, “More important than anything, now is the time to educate the world that Uruguay is a winemaking country.”

Leading Uruguayan producers of Tannat and Albariño

Tannat: Familia Deicas | Narbona | Pisano

Albariño: Bodega Garzón | Bouza

Published on July 7, 2016
Topics: South America
About the Author
Michael Schachner
Spanish and South American Editor

Reviews wines from Argentina, Chile and Spain.

Michael Schachner is a New York-based journalist specializing in wine, food and travel. His articles appear regularly in Wine Enthusiast, where he is a longstanding contributing editor responsible for South America and Spain. Schachner reviews more than 2,000 wines annually for WE and regularly travels to Chile, Argentina and Spain to keep abreast of the constantly changing global wine map. Email: mschachner@wineenthusiast.net.



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