Wednesday Wine

Uruguay is fast becoming the new winter vacation destination. And Punta del Este is the spot to be – it’s the Riviera of the south. An hour and a half by car from capital Montevideo, it offers twenty miles of pristine beaches and since their summer season extends from December to March, it’s the ideal location for us northerners. For wealthy Argentinians, owning a home in Punta del Este is like having a beach house in the Hamptons for New Yorkers. But with a twelve hour flight, it’s more than a weekend hop from here. Today Terry walks us through some places to go and wines to try from this up and coming region.

Tannat is the star performer in Uruguay. If you have not had the opportunity to taste this main grape from Uruguay you are missing out.  It is full bodied, rich and just delicious. Traditionally used in Madiran (mostly in blends with Merlot), it was brought over in 1870 by a Basque named Don Pascual Harriague credited with ‘modernizing’ wine production in Uruguay. Descendents of original cuttings of the Tannat grape continue to be known here as Harriague. Tannat produces deep red wines with a herbal, black fruit (or even blueberry fruit) nose, but the palate, though often full-bodied and rich, can be very tannic and unyielding, especially in years that are wet or when the grapes are not fully ripe. Merlot is the most common blending grape as it gives a softening effect along with some red fruit characters, but other varieties are used to a greater or lesser extent to produce blended Tannat wines at different price levels. It is one of those grape varieties that leaves its mark even when there is only a relatively small percentage present. And an additional benefit is that wines made from the Tannat grape have an unusually high antioxidant value.

The Carrau family was one of the first to recognise the export potential for their wines. With two sites and wineries, one in Rivera on the Brazilian border pictured above (wines from here are marketed as Cerro Chapeu), and the other in Canelones (Castel Pujol), for some years they have had a good selection of fruit and more than competent winemaking.

With a wide range of wines, they were the first to produce very fresh, flavorful Sauvignon Blanc from both wineries, and an excellent, ageworthy Tannat Amat from Cerro Chapeu. The Francisco Carrau winery produces some of our biggest sellers. The owners  are extremely welcoming and kind, and the lineup of wines is  impressive.  The Amat Chardonnay from Carrau is well priced at $12 a bottle and their Tannat is $25 a bottle.

If you are considering taking a trip to Uruguay, one suggestion would be Jose Ignacio, a tiny but beautiful town about 10 miles outside of Punta del Este. There are lots of gorgeous beaches, beautiful homes, and terrific food. La Huella is probably the most happening restaurant out that way, a unique beachside location with loads of wealthy Argentineans (mostly from Buenos Aires) packing the place every night. Excellent seafood, sushi, and a great selection of Uruguayan wines. One of the best places to stay is the boutique hotel Casa Suaya, also in Jose Ignacio.

Another place to stay is the Hotel Garzon, a thirty-minute drive northeast of José Ignacio. It is owned and run by the famous Argentine chef Francis Mallmann. Although it is in the middle of nowhere, the quality of food and the hotel are spectacular. There are only 5 rooms at the hotel, and the rates are steep, but if you stay there all food is included. A la carte prices for the menu are staggering. This is a must for anyone who is a foodie and is travelling in South America. Simply amazing.

So even if you’re not looking for a new exotic trip location, the wines from Uruguay are a great vicarious way to experience this locale.

26 thoughts on “Wednesday Wine

  1. My husband was born in Uruguay and it’s definitely on our list of places to see, especially since my mother spent ten days in Jose Ignacio last year and came back raving about the people and the food… I’ll have to ask here about the wine! Thanks for taking us on another adventure, Q.

  2. The Hotel Garzon looks wonderful and it’s pet friendly! Must love a pet friendly hotel. The food of this region looks amazing and oh yes, the wine, too! Thanks for the mini-adventure this morning ; )

  3. When things calm down, and we’re home for more than a week, I have to bring my husband in to meet Terry! And talk wine!

    Now, Uruguay is on my brain as one of my dear friends is spending spring break there with her family this month. They’ll do one week in Buenos Aires and one week in Uruguay. Wish I could be their stowaway!

  4. Yum! I look forward to your wine posts. My best friend just got back from 19 days in Argentina and Uruguary and they loved it – the pictures were beautiful and she said the wine and food is fabulous.

  5. I love the wine suggestions. I’m always nervous about buying something I haven’t tried. So nice to have your info. The scenery and interiors are beautiful. People that own wineries have such a wonderful aesthetic!

  6. I love Uruguayan wines! They’re really, really good! But not only the wine is good in Uruguay, the people also are really friendly and beautiful.

    Love their culture and the sandy beaches.

    Have a great day, my friend and thank you so much for dropping by today!


    Luciane at

  7. Those last four pics are amazing. The hotel and restaurant lookmso inviting. I hope it is all still there when I retire!…k

  8. Oh, this all looks devine, that beach, the hotel, the food and of course the vino. I’ve been enjoying a lovely Chilean sav. Blanc lately–I am going to seek out something Uruguain to sip soon! Thank you for the escape!

  9. So many many wines so little time! South America looks like it must be next on the travel radar. Many thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment of late…I really do appreciate it.

  10. Oh my Hotel Garzon looks stunning! Wish I could taste the wine, but since I can’t that pool is calling my name! Also, thanks for your lovely comment about my post on Color Recall…it’s giving my mother such pleasure, that she has all sorts of ideas for posts! Go mom! xx Danielle

  11. I have never been well versed in wines, but I sure do love hearing tidbits when someone is willing to share! I discovered that I like any wine that is sweet. I love the prices on those bottles! Inexpensive luxuries. You probably need them after footing the bill for such and amazing stay! XO

  12. Gorgeous! I love when Wednesday wine features destinations…wine + vacation..what could be better? Uruguay would be fantastic to see, it’s on my list!

  13. We spent part of our honeymoon in Uruguay. It was absolutely lovely. It was too cold to go to the beach so we went inland to Carmelo. Wonderful. I highly recommend it.

    Stylishly yours,

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