When I received an email inquiring if I'd like a sample of Tannat, from Uruguay, I did a double take. First Tannat just isn't a variety you see a lot of by solo, especially in the U.S. It can have very harsh tannins, and is most commonly blended, in single digit percentages, to add some structure. Uruguay has been on the fringes of my radar as an up and coming wine producer, but I haven't paid a lot of attention. So, I was pleased to receive this sample, and not knowing what to expect, more pleased with the results.
It's a small country, only 3.5 million people, bordering Argentina, on the Atlantic coast. The country's 'southern wine belt' has 20,000 acres of vineyards, and 270 wineries. Tannat it turns out, is to Uruguay what Malbec is to Argentina. Brought there in 1870 by a French-Basque emigrant, it is considered the national grape, and is now the largest producer of Tannat in the world. The producer is Uruguay's largest, founded in 1830, and says it considers sustainable wine growing methodologies a way of life.
Review: 2009 Pueblo del Sol Tannat, Uruguay
Two very noteworthy things about this wine, and if you follow my personal palate preferences, two personal kudos. First, it's unoaked. No oak, not even neutral oak. Unusual for reds but can produce some interesting results. Ranging from something in production by Bonny Doon, to my own Sangiovese, its one way to make red wine and it be 100% expressive of the fruit. Second, its low alcohol, only 12.5 percent.
While generally with a bottle of Tannat I'd dump it in the decanter for an hour, however this fresh, vibrant representation can be drunk right away.
Color: Medium purple, clear, and can just see some light through it at an angle. Mass Traffic Domination
On the Nose: Fresh red fruit, raspberry, black cherry, and a hint of graphite.
In the Mouth: Nice fruit on the front palate, as you first taste it. Bright red and black fruit, with a nice hint minerality running through mid palate. It's a bit more simple on the finish, but very well done for a wine of this price point, distribution, and variety. Tannins are very modest and balanced, pleasant, making this red wine drinkable on its own.
Recommendation: Recommended buy, drink. A great value, unique wine for $10. Medium size production of 20,000 cases.
Soliloquy : Wine drinkers looking for that “crush my palate with tannins or oak” big Cabernet or 16% fruit bomb Zinfandel might be disappointed, as its more nuanced.For its high value $10 price, it something I'd encourage every wine drinker, especially those exploratory and/or new to try.
Your wine palate is an unfolding trail and series of awakenings, and if you are passionate or even just interested about wine, you should be on a constant path to experiment – and thus world of wine discovery, and its never ending journey, will blossom for you, with enlightenment, sometimes humility, but always a new frontier. Or you can just drink the same old thing and style every day….the world produces hundreds of unique varieties of wine, branch out beyond ten.
Where to Buy: Distribution seems good. My favorite local importer & wine shop K&L Wines has about 100 bottles left. The importer TasteVino website also sells it online. This is an interesting importer – Napa locals can order online and will call pickup (as I do with K&L) and even has a wine club, and many great looking value wines to try. $10 retail. Media Sample.
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