Home > Tasting Notes and Wine Reviews > Tasting The Unique Wines of Uruguay in Washington, DC

Tasting The Unique Wines of Uruguay in Washington, DC


Uruguay4

On a warm September afternoon I joined Frank Morgan (Drink What You Like) for a wine tasting at the Embassy of Uruguay in Washington, DC.  This tasting was part of a three city tour for The Unique Wines of Uruguay organized by the Wines of Uruguay.  I have had minimal experience with these wines over the last several years, having only purchased a bottle of 2008 Bouza, Tannat.  There were certainly some standout white and red wines including the 2011 Artesana, Tannat/Merlot, the 2010 Bodega Bouza, Tannat, Parcela Unica B6, the 2013 Bodegas Carrau, Sauvignon Blanc Sue Lie, and the 2013 Bodega Garzón, Albariño.  Tasting through a room of young Tannat is certainly challenging for the palate and left me curious to try mature bottles.  Please find my notes below in the order tasted.

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Some White Wines

We started by tasting some white wines which provided a generally good start.

2012 Bodegas Marichal, Chardonnay, Estate, Canelones
This wine is unoaked.  It was a very light color with a fresh, almost grassy nose at first before becoming a touch richer.  This was clean in the mouth with fresh, grassy flavors, a little metallic tang, and acidity.

2012 Reinaldo de Lucia, Marsanne, Reserva
This was a light yellow color.  The nose was tight but may have contained rich aromas.  It was served too cold at first.  There were fresh flavors, not quite crisp with stones and steely tropica notes.  The acidity was integrated with young flavor and some powdery stones in the finish.

2012 Toscanini, Sauvignon Blanc, Classic, Canelones
There was a riper, tropical, sweet nose.  In the mouth there was good acidity and serve verve to this wine which tasted different than the nose led one to expect.  It finished with nice texture.

2012 Bodegas Carrau, Chardonnay, Juan Carrau de Reserva, Las Violetas
This wine was 70% barrel fermented.  There were weighted flavors from the barrel fermentation.  It mixed texture, acidity, and a little creamy feel before the sweet end.

2013 Bodegas Carrau, Sauvignon Blanc Sue Lie, Rivera
There was a rather aromatic, sweet grassy nose with fresh herbals.  In the mouth were bracing flavors of grassy, grapefruit with developed grip.  Neat.

Bodega Garzón

Nicolas Kovalenko

Nicolas Kovalenko

Bodega Garzón is a new winery which was established in 2008.  The winemaker came from Antinori in Italy. It is located in the eastern part of Uruguay, near the coast, where it is cold and wet.  The bodegas farms 240 hectares of vines divided into 1,000 subplots.  The land itself is hilly with volcanic soils and a 15 degree slope.  As a result the tractors use treads instead of tires.  With an annual rainfall of 1,400mm it is not uncommon for the vineyards to experience 80mm of rain in one afternoon.  To handle the massive runoff the various plots are surrounded by roads.  These roads help channel the rain away and also provide access to the vines.  Of the recent vintages 2013 and 2011 are considered “super good” whereas 2012 was “not so good.”

2013 Bodega Garzón, Albariño
This had a little ripe, floral nose with a tropical hint.  In the mouth the acidity was up front with grassy, almost prickly flavors.  There was a tangy finish with salivating acidity and minerally texture.  A nice expression of the volcanic soils.

2011 Bodega Garzón, Tannat
This nose was smokey with black fruits.  In the mouth were grapey flavors and an inky middle before the power came out.  The wine was rounded with a touch of smoke and very good, integrated acidity.

2011 Bodega Garzón, Tannat, Reserva
There was no Reserva produced in 2010 due to the February rains.  This had a tight nose with black, smokey aromas.  In the mouth were dense and compact flavors which slowly built into powerful, chocolate flavors in the middle.  It was very integrated with its fine tannins.  Clearly young.

Bodega Bouza

Christina Santoro

Christina Santoro

This is the one producer from Uruguay which I have purchased a bottle of wine from over the last three years.  They experienced good results with the 2010 vintage but 2011 was perfect.

2012 Bodega Bouza, Albarino, Las Violetes, Canelones
The nose was finely, textured with ripe aromas.  In the mouth it started a little rich then switches to grassy and floral flavors.  It became a little softer and had less overt acidity.  The finish brought a note of stones.

2011 Bodega Bouza, Tempranillo/Tannat, Canelones
There were dark, robust aromas.  In the mouth were dark red flavors with robustness in the middle and first.  It was firm at first then some dried, sweet, baking spices came out before turning spicy.

2011 Bodega Bouza, Tannat, Reserva, Canelones
This was a little tangy with red and black fruit and spice.  The power builds through the mouth with drying tannins on the teeth and gums.  It left an aftertaste of ripe texture.

2010 Bodega Bouza, Mont Vide Eu, Canelones
This wine is a blend of Tannat, Merlot, and Tempranillo.  There were dense, dark aromas on the nose through which some fresh fruit escapes.  This had a more approachable start with an almost glycerine feel to the blue and black fruit.  The acidity and tannins were integrated before the Tannat robustness and tannins came through.

2010 Bodega Bouza, Tannat, Parcela Unica A8, Montevide
The Tannat was sourced from a parcel in Montevide.  The nose was smokey with black fruit aromas.  In the mouth were tart red fruits, more acidity, and a little racy middle.  There was a powerful tannic structure with a spicy aspect.

2010 Bodega Bouza, Tannat, Parcela Unica B6
The nose bore fine, articulate aromas of red fruit and smoke.  In the mouth were red fruit, fine flavors of stones and fine tannins in the integrated structure.  This was well done with enjoyable texture.  The best thus far.

Traversa

Diego Pom

Diego Pom

This estate actually sells more Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon in the states so this was a chance to taste their other wines.

2012 Travera, Tannat, Canelones
This had a grapey, berry nose.  In the mouth were round, red fruit, a little black fruit, generally an attractive modern table wine.  The Tannat character came through, perhaps some residual sugar, with a ripe texture to the tannins.

2012 Travera, Tannat/Merlot, Canelones
The nose was vegetal with red and black fruit aromas.  The flavors were of the greenhouse with residual sugar.  Odd.

2011 Familia Traversa, Marselan/Tannat/Merlot, Canelones
This had a nose with more austere greenhouse and black fruit aromas.  In the mouth was tart, red fruit, acidity, and more red fruit and acidity.

2010 Traversa, Syrah/Tannat, Reserva, Canelones
This had a denser nose of ripe black fruit.  In the mouth the structure was apparent from the start then made way to lighter black fruit flavor.  It was modern with drying, ripe tannins and integrated acidity.

2010 Traversa, Roble, Reserva, Canelones
The nose had greenhouse aromas, perfume, with some red and black fruit.  In the mouth the flavors were a little round then black fruit came out with juicy acidity.  There were nice, ripe drying tannins, a hint of black minerals, and a spicy aftertaste.  Definitely the best of the lot.

Bodega Stagnari

Fabian Houjeije

Fabian Houjeije

These wines are only imported into Florida.

2011 Bodega Stagnari, De Pedregal, Tannat/Merlot/Cab
The nose had red fruit with its slightly perfumed aromas.  There were red and black fruits in the mouth, acidity, then ripe fruit came out.  It was a little rugged.

2011 Bodega Stagnari, Tannat, Pedregal
This was a lighter wine with red fruit, youthful, approachable with a little structure.

2011 Bodega Stagnari, Prima Donna, Merlot
The light nose made way to a ripe, roundish start with brighter flavors.  The fruit then thinned out as the structure developed with its ripe tannins.  Modern.

2011 Bodega Stagnari, Prima Donna, Cabernet Franc
This is the first vintage of this wine.  It was a little vegetal on the nose with blue and black fruit.  The mouth followed the nose with greenhouse flavors then smoky black fruit.  The wine had ripe, powdery flavors in the finish with a touch of spices and chewy tannins.

2011 Bodega Stagnari, Prima Donna, Tannat
The nose was smoky with blue and black fruit.  There was nice blue and black fruit in the mouth which was a touchy racy.  It was a little round then perfumed with a smoky finish.  This was my favorite of the line-up.

2006 Bodega Stagnari, Osiris, Reserva
The color was a medium garnet.  There was a redder start to the flavors with a little wood box before smoky black fruit came out.  There was a firm, drying structure with some ripe tannins.

Finca Narbona

Fiorela

Fiorela

This estate is located in the south-west portion of Uruguay.  Michel Rolland is the advisor.

2012 Finca Narbona, Puerto Carmelo, Sauvignon Blanc, Carmelo
This wine is made from young vines.  There was a grassy nose followed by a round, big start in the mouth.  It had a creamy mouthfeel with a fine vein of good grip, good, acidity and a long aftertaste.  A nice, bigger wine.

2010 Finca Narbona, Puerto Carmelo, Tannat, Carmelo
The nose was pungent with fruity, ripe, and dried fruit aromas.  In the mouth this tasted of raisins with expansive flavors which were not heavy.  Even more dried fruit came out.  A bit odd.

2012 Finca Narbona, Pinot Noir, Carmelo
There was a little Pinot Noir based cherry aromas.  The nose remained tight but proper.  In the mouth were rounder fruit with a racy middle before robust and spicy flavors came out.  There was ripe fruit.  This was different for a Pinot Noir.  Though we were told it was 100% Pinot Noir (Fabiana confirms this) it certainly tasted as if Tannat was added.  This makes it quite unique and certainly worth trying.

2010 Finca Narbona, Tannat Roble, Carmelo
I thought this was corked on the nose and tasted off in the mouth.

2010 Finca Narbona, Luz de Luna, Tannat, Carmelo
There was a subtle nose of tight black and red aromas.  In the mouth were black, minerally fruit.  There was a very dry structure in this austere wine.

Pizzorno Family

Ana and Carlos Pizzorno

Ana and Carlos Pizzorno

For this estate the 2008 and 2010 vintages were excellent but the 2011 and 2013 vintages were the best.  The estate traditionally produced only table wines but they are in the process of transitioning to more serious wines.

2012 Pizzorno, Don Prospero, Tannat
There were very ripe, almost overripe, aromas on the nose.  The mouth was similar.  This was an approachable, simple wine with some structure.

2011 Pizzorno, Tannat/Malbec
This had a tighter, serious nose.  In the mouth were ripe black fruit, ripe tannins and a structure more obvious than the acidity.  There were sweet spices then spicy tannins.

2011 Pizzorno, Tannat/Merlot
The nose had aromas of mixed young fruit.  There were round and dense flavors in the mouth which managed to have levity.  This was drinkable with water acidity.  The best of this estate thus far.

2008 Pizzorno, Tannat, Reserva
This had a Tannat nose with some vanilla aromas.  It was still youthful in the mouth with power, some hints of maturity, and red tangy acidity.  It still has structure.  A nice wine.

2011 Pizzorno, Select Blend
These was fresh fruit with a little, sweet wood in the mouth.  Then red fruit with firm black fruit and structure.

Artesana

Leslie Fellows

Leslie Fellows

These are serious, big wines made by two women using Zinfandel brought down from California.

2012 Artesana, Zinfandel, Canelones
This wine see no oak.  There was brighter fruit with simple tea notes, some density, and a little ripe fruit.

2011 Artesana, Zinfandel, Reserva, Canelones
There as a little black fruit and lipstick on the nose.  In the mouth were flavors of racy, acidity driven fruit, strong grippy texture, and good acidity.  The finish brought inky, dark fruit and bramble.  Nice.

2011 Artesana, Tannat/Merlot, Canelones
This was a nice wine with a good mouthfeel.  It was a successful blend in the mouth with an inky, cool start before it slowly built to its tugged finish.  There was just a hint of wood box.

2011 Artesana, Tannat, Canelones
This had a little more austere start with black fruit and structure.  There was a hint of alcohol with fine, strong tannins.  It was powerful in the aftertaste.

2011 Artesana, Tannat/Merlot/Zinfandel, Canelones
This is a blend from the best barrels.  This tasted different by dialing back the Tannat character.  It was inky and able to control the strength just waiting to break out.  It was a little spicy in the aftertaste.

Familia Deicas

2012 Familia Deicas, Atlantico Sur, Tannat/Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot, Canelones
The fruit is sourced from a single vineyard.  It was a little tugged at the start then round red fruit slowly built in the mouth.  There was some toast, salivating acidity, and a little grapey aspect mixed with some ripe spices.

2009 Familia Deicas, Perludio, Canelones
There were light red and black fruits in the mouth, it was a touch hollow in the middle, followed by an inky finish with firm and drying tannins in the firm structure.

Frank Morgan and the author

Frank Morgan and the author

  1. fabiana
    October 10, 2013 at 3:19 pm

    Hi guys lovely article about Uruguay! just want to let you know our Pinot Noir is 100% no Tannat added at all. maybe our terroir and climate produce a different Pinot from Burgundy but it is certainly 100%. Big hugs from Uruguay! Lic Fabiana Bracco Manager at Finca Narbona.

    • October 10, 2013 at 7:30 pm

      Dear Fabiana, Thank you so much for commenting. Thank you so much for confirming it is 100% Pinot Noir. This makes it a unique expression of the grape which I hope others try.

      Best,

      Aaron

  1. July 15, 2014 at 12:08 pm

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