The flagship: Tannat
Tannat is the strain that has earned Uruguay a recognized place in the world of wine and innumerable international awards.
Originally from the areas of Madiran and Irouleguy (southwest of France), it was introduced in the country around 1870 by Basque immigrants, from its original home in the West Pyrenees of France.
Tannat arrived in Uruguay in the late 19th century from France via Concordia, Argentina, in the hands of Pascual Harriague. The government of President Máximo Tajes (1886-1890) granted Pascual Harriague a Medal of Honor ‘for his personal constancy and patriotism in the solution of a topic that interested the country so much’. Harriague left the legacy of his cultivation, which gave Uruguay identity as a wine country and that four generations of Uruguayan wine growers have managed to perpetuate.
In 2016, the National Wine Institute of Uruguay established April 14th as Tannat Day - and the week that contains it, Tannat Week-. The date was chosen to honor Harriague - given that on April 14th, 1894, the father of Uruguayan viticulture died in the city of Bayonne, capital of the department of the Atlantic Pyrenees.
At present, Uruguay is the only producer in the world where there are significant quantities of this variety in relation to its total area of vineyards - and with a production that exceeds even that of its place of origin, adapting like no other to the local soil and climate.
The Tannat from Uruguay surprises with an unknown quality and sophistication for this strain, with mature and soft tannins and a seductive velvety structure.
Its name first of all suggests high tannin content though ‘tanned’, on the other hand, is related to the idea of darker colour – in fact, both characteristics jointly are its hallmark.
The oblong grape is high in anthocyanins and makes an intensely colored, almost black wine that is infamous for its tannins.
It is also the world’s most heart-healthy vine with about 2.7 times more resveratrol than other French red varieties and very high levels of procyanidins, the flavonoids that increase oxygen flow to red blood cells and reduce heart disease risks.
Tannat has the highest levels of polyphenols and resveratrol, it is the healthiest red wine in the world.
Originally from Bordeaux, the variety that dominates the world of reds. With wines of an intense ruby red color, soft aromas with great harmony, and which are balanced and elegant to the palate, with hints of pepper or green paprika, and, on occasion, notes of vanilla, smokey and toasty flavors.
This variety, is characterized by being versatile and easy to drink, and by having an intense blue color that gives it its name —in the dialect of Bordeaux, the region where the variety comes from, "merlot" means "blackbird". In Uruguay, it produces wines with a soft, velvety, fruity and fresh texture, and a lot of elegance.
Syrah wines present intense colors, which result from its very pigmented red grape, and aromas that go from the florals in young specimens to game and spices after aging and maturation. In the mouth they are complex, offering body and elegance, with a soft hint of red fruits (plums, cherries, strawberries, raspberries) and pepper, and harmonic endings of toasted, caramel and vanilla notes.
This variety from Burgundy has great fame for both its virtues —yielding subtle, elegant wines with great sophistication—, and the difficulties of its production, due to the susceptibility of its berries to inclement weather. In our country, winemakers have managed to overcome these challenges with great skill, achieving excellent quality specimens.
Originally from the French Médoc region, the Cabernet Franc strain is of early sprouting and maturing, vigorous and with an upright and horizontal bearing. The aromas of this variety show vegetal characteristics, a not too intense color, medium acidity and medium body.
Of French origin, the Marselan strain is born from the mixture between Cabernet Sauvignon and Garnacha, which began to be cultivated in the 1960s in the Marseillan region. Of small or medium clusters, rounded fruits of dark color and little juicy. The wine can be defined as complex, balanced, full-bodied and aromatic.
Chardonnay comes, like Pinot Noir, originally from Burgundy. There are soft, fresh and elegant specimens, with notes of tropical fruits and moderate acidity, and others that gain complexity and aromas of hazelnuts, vanilla and honey when aged in oak barrels. It is perfect for pairing with fish and white meats.
It is a very tasty and expressive wine that surprises with its exuberance and intense aromas. Sauvignon Blanc is another favorite among whites. It comes from a very "influenceable" grape, which when harvested at its optimal point, gives very fresh and citrusy wines.
This variety has also found in Uruguay the best conditions for its development. Originally from Galicia, the Albariño has gained popularity among the most demanding palates when it comes to whites, and our country is gaining a lot of recognition for its quality.
Grape originally from the Rhone Valley, France, with the potential to produce full-bodied wines with a smooth character. With natural aromas and delicate elaboration, it is a late variety, with a small, compact and cylindrical cluster that offers versatile wines with a peculiar flavor.