Wines of Uruguay: ideal climate, Tannat and its success
Uruguay enjoys the ideal geographical location to excel in the production of fine wines. Situated in the southern hemisphere between the parallels 30 and 35 S, like its fellow wine-producing countries of Argentina, Chile, South Africa, and Australia and New Zealand. The clay-based soil and the balanced distribution of sun, rainfall, and temperature in Uruguay are optimal for the growth of the vines, which lie among the gently undulating hills without any artificial irrigation.
The Uruguayan climate is influenced by Atlantic breezes, much like the Bordeaux region, although warmer than the latter. While the intensity of sunlight is similar to Argentina and Chile, refreshing currents of cool air hail from the Antarctic.
The wines produced here generally have a lower alcohol content as morphological ripeness comes with 12 to 12.5 per cent potential alcohol. As in New Zealand, the wine attains a natural balance between acidity and fruitiness. While the tannins are clearly present in the wines, they have a soft and smooth character.
In recent years, Uruguay’s wine producers have embarked on an energetic and determined process of restructuring vineyards and wineries, with excellent results. Each year, Uruguay wins more prizes and accolades in international competitions. This worldwide recognition has been accompanied by an exceptional growth in exports, which have tripled during the past five years, now exceeding 3.2 million litres per year.
With 9,000 hectares under cultivation all harvested by hand, Uruguay has gained international consecration as a producer of good quality, harmonious, and elegant wines. Our aim is for quality not quantity, producing better wines every year.
Tannat: The emblematic variety of the Uruguayan wine industry
The Tannat grape was introduced into Uruguay in 1870 by Basque immigrants and has transformed itself into the “national variety”, adapting itself perfectly to the local soil and climate. Considered an exotic grape variety, demand for Tannat is increasing rapidly.
Uruguay is the only country in the world where significant amounts of Tannat are grown, more even than in its native Madiran and Irouléguy in south-west France. Tannat now represents approximately a third of all wine produced in Uruguay.
Tannat makes a red wine of intense colour, good aroma and body which is well suited to accompany beef and other red meats. It is a strong wine with a great personality which will surprise you.
Most Uruguayan winemakers ellaborate reserve quality Tannat wines by aging in oak barrels, which render considerable softness on tannins achieving excellent results. Its complexity and solid structure also allows for stylish unusual assemblages with different grape varieties, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Shiraz.
Uruguayan wineries have also devoted to producing red wines of the best French grapes, such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot with aging in oak barrels, or white wines like Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, with outstanding quality.
Currently, Hay Wines is already offering a very interesting Uruguayan wine: the Garzon Tannat 2012.
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