Incredibly one in every three bottles of wine produced in Uruguay is a Tannat. So what does Uruguay’s flagship wine taste like? Here’s a guide to get you started. The wines were chosen by restauranteurs in Montevideo whose mission is to get their customers hooked on Uruguayan wines 🍷 This is advice worth following.
Wine-making began in Uruguay in the mid-seventeenth century. Vines were brought from Spain and people made their own wine at home. The first person to see wine production as a business opportunity was a Basque immigrant, Pascual Harriague. He planted a number of different varieties in 1870 in search of a varietal that would adapt well to Uruguay’s soil and climate.
The wine that proved most popular with his clients was a Tannat, a vine of French origin. In fact locals went crazy for Tannat. Harriague was awarded a national prize and less than a decade later, Tannat was so ubiquitous it had become THE wine consumed by Uruguayan citizens. Today one in every three bottles of wine produced in Uruguay is a Tannat.
What does tannat look and taste like?
A traditional Tannat is a full-bodied very dark red wine–sometimes so dark it can be deep violet, almost blue, in colour.
It tends to have aromas of very ripe red and black fruits, umami and spices. When aged, chocolate and tobacco appear. In the mouth, it can be astringent and tannic, but when aged, it becomes velvety and almost sweet.
Tannat coats your tongue and always goes well with red meat, cheeses and spicy foods. I think I learned to really appreciate tannat when I realised the importance of eating whilst sipping.
Tannats for all tastes
Several decades ago, before wine-making in Uruguay became more sophisticated, tannats got a reputation for being overly tannic. Today that’s far from the case. Uruguayan tannats are so varied– some are even perfect as an aperitif.
Wine writer W Blake Gray compares Uruguay tannat to Syrah for its variety. “Uruguay and Tannat really is the perfect mix of terroir — windy, humid, oceanic, cool for South America — and grape,” he says. “Uruguayan Tannat, in its purest form, is […] a food lover’s wine, a sommelier’s wine, a wine lover’s wine.”
Tannats to get you started
- Alto de la Ballena Tannat Viognier [Es Mercat: “For anyone who wants a little taste and is ‘afraid’ of the strength of tannat”]
- Antigua Bodega Stagnari Tannat Prima Donna 2013
- Artesana Tannat Merlot Zinfandel Reserva [the 2018 vintage currently available in the US]
- Artesana Tannat Rosé [Guru’Guay: Gorgeous fuchsia-coloured, perfect as an aperitif]
- Bracco Bosca Ombú [Baco: “Very fruity and great as an introduction to Tannat”]
- Cerro Chapeu Batoví [Baco: “Iconic”]
- Los Nadies Equilibrio [Es Mercat: “The 2018 is especially drinkable with the complexity characteristic of Los Nadies. But we recommends any and all vintages!” Note: If you want a tannat to age, go for a Los Nadies]
- Pisano Tannat RPF
For all you wine-loving gardeners out there, don’t miss this interesting article about how to grow plump wine grapes for a deep and complex homemade wine.
One in every three bottles of wine produced in Uruguay is a Tannat. What does Uruguay’s flagship wine taste like? Here’s a guide to get started, by locals.
Your chance to taste some of the best Uruguay wines at the hand of one of the top three wine-makers in Uruguay at his home and winery minutes from downtown.
A French bistro with probably the longest wine list in the city and multiple by-the-glass choices is one of the best new Montevideo restaurants by far.
One in three bottles of Uruguay wine is a Tannat. Yes, Uruguayans LOVE this red. Nowadays there’s a Tannat for every occasion. We celebrate the Top Tannats.
Join us as we parachute in on a virtual visit to a Uruguay wine-maker. Harvest is just ending and there’s some feel good news, it’s the BEST in 40 years.
The host of this brand new travel show fell in love with Montevideo. The wine, soccer, carnival, food… so many things to do.
Bodegas Garzon and Bouza have ranked #2 and #44 amongst the world’s top 50 wineries. What other wineries to visit when you’re in Uruguay?
Can you believe this? A personalised wine delivery service in Montevideo. Adriana selects Uruguay wine to your taste and budget & delivers to your home.
Uruguay is the new world’s undiscovered wine gem. Plan your trip to Uruguay wine country. Tips to regions, wine tasting in Montevideo & private wine tours.
Besides great wine, in our experience, this award-winning women-run winery 45 minutes from Montevideo, has the BEST lunch of Uruguay vineyards.
Trained in elite French chateaux but down to earth, Manuel Filgueira is one of Uruguay’s top winemakers, producing tiny quantities of exceptional wine through “sheer stubbornness”.
Uruguay’s wine production is small yet magnificent. Here’s the very best from the Guru’Guay Guide to Uruguay, a guide to wine country and more.