Wines of Uruguay in Hong Kong
 November 07 2011, 12:24

Click For Large ViewOf all the invitations I had during the fair in Hong Kong, I thought that of Wines of Uruguay at the Foreign Correspondents' Club the most interesting. I had, of course, had the opportunity to taste the occasional wine of two from this country before, but never such a wide selection in the presence of seven winemakers. Most of us tend to think of Tannat when we hear Uruguay, which is not altogether wrong. With almost 3,000 hectares it is not only the mostly widely planted grape, but there is also much more of it there than in France. What was more surprising for me is what grows on the other 6,000 hectares: Albarino, Viognier, Torrontes, Cabernet Franc and even Pinot Noir. Although at the same latitude as Mendoza, I did not realise how compartively cool the climate was due to the chilling breezes coming in off the Atlantic. Although there are some 280 wineries in the country, only about 40 produces quality wines (VCP). Of those, 22 are member of Wines of Uruguay and these are about the only ones you are likely to see outside the country. Traversa, which producers about 10% of all Uruguayan wines, is the market leader and their 2008 Noble Alianza showed why consumers like them. With subtle flavours, it was already nicely matured and ready to drink. That cannot often be said of pure Tannat, which is often austere in its youth. The tannins can be mouth puckering, which is why many producers have long seen blends with Syrah, Tempranillo and for the past five years even Viognier as the way to go. The Suenos de Elisa from Vina Progreso was a good example of this style. Made by Gabriel Pisano, it is a tribute to what he learned while making wine with some of the finest names from Australia, South Africa and California. My favourite wine from his family's estate, Pisano, was the 2011 Torrontes "Rio de los Pajaros" Reserva. In terms of pure Tannat, Garzon seems to have come a long ways in giving those gripping tannins a touch of elegance. As most of the wines were still relatively young, I look forward to tasting a number of mature bottles at ProWein next year to see how these wines age. Comments


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