Have you tried many wines from Uruguay? I surely haven’t which is why when I spotted Good Pair Days (previously The Wine Gallery) had some in, I knew I had to give them a go. So this month’s TC Wine Club included 3 Uruguayan wines!
Good Pair Days has a handful of Uruguayan wines in at the moment. Which meant I was able to get wines made from different grape varieties, from different producers and also different regions.
To be honest, I didn’t know a heck of a lot about Uruguay or its wine before this. Therefore I got my googling pants on and decided to make an Uruguayan inspired meal last weekend.
A quick taste of Uruguay and its wine:
- Uruguay is the 4th largest producer of wine in South America
- Only approximately 3% of what they produce is exported
- Uruguay is most known for its red wine made from the Tannat grape
- In terms of white grape varieties, Albariño is popular
- And you’ll also find a bit of; Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Petit Verdot grown
- From what I understand the wine regions are grouped by the town they are in, or what they call ‘departments’
- The majority of the Uruguayan vineyards are located in the hills north of the capital Montevideo
Here is a great map, thanks to Decanter Magazine to show you where exactly Uruguay is alongside where you can find the vineyards.
The Uruguayan Wines We Tasted
Overall, let’s just say I am keen to find more Uruguayan wine, both Mr Spittoon and I thoroughly enjoyed each of the tipples and they went very well with our food choices!
Vinedos de Los Vientos 2016 Arneis Chardonnay (River Plate Estuary)
Vinedos de Los Vientos translates to Vineyard of the Winds because of the cool breezes the vineyard gets. The vineyard is located right where the Atlantic ocean and River Plate Estuary meet. Which by the way is the largest estuary in the world!
The Fallabrino family who immigrated from Italy during the war, have owned the property since 1947. It’s been home to vines since around the 1920’s however it was only in the late 90s its state of the art winery was set up and they began to produce their own wine. Today the team is lead by Pablo Fallabrino, the chief winemaker.
The blend for this 2016 white is 60% Arneis (an Italian white grape variety) and 40% Chardonnay. Apparently, Vinedos de Los Vientos is the only vineyard growing Arneis in Uruguay!
I found it a golden yellow shade in the glass. Lovely aromas of baking spice, citrus and pastry jumped out of the glass to entice my nostrils. While in the mouth it had a wonderful creaminess across the tongue with an acidic finish. It’s dry, but it made me think of honey with grapefruit zest.
Pizzorno ‘Don Prospero’ 2017 Sauvignon Blanc (Montevideo)
Pizzorno Family Estates is a 4th generation family-owned winery in Uruguay. The 21 hectares of vines includes plantings of Tannat, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Malbec, Arinarnoa, Marselan, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Muscat of Hamburg.
Pizzorno are very focused on sustainability and the conservation of the environment. You can read more about their practices via the Pizzorno website.
Mr Spittoon and I both loooooved this Sauvignon Blanc. It’s one I will most definitely hunt out again.
On the eye it’s a very pale, nearly water white colour in the glass. Tropical fruits, soft citrus, snowsnap peas and a hint of minerality comes through on the nose. While in the mouth it’s acidic up front, with some fruit sweetness across the tongue and a nice dry finish. Smooth, fruity, and refreshingly acidic. YUM!
Bodegas Carrau 2016 Tannat (Canelones)
You can’t have an Uruguayan themed night without a bottle of Tannat! It’s the nations pride and joy and by goodness, they do it well!
The Carrau family landed in Uruguay from Catalonia in Spain in 1910. Their winemaking history in Spain dates right back to 1752. So it’s safe to say they know their stuff. Juan Carrau is currently heading up the winemaking for the bodega.
In the glass I found it a very deep garnet colour. On the nose it made me think of blackcurrants, pepper and violets. While in the mouth it’s like juicy blackcurrant juice, with a sprinkling of pepper, pleasing tannins and a decent length acid-driven finish.
So what food did we match with the wine? Keep reading wine lovers..
The Uruguayan Inspired Food we matched
To be honest, I didn’t actually read the back labels of the whites before I planned my menu. Both whites said they went well with seafood. However, I think my menu did pretty good too!
I decided to cook 2 dishes and a side dish. Honestly, there were so many yummy options to try. I dear say I’ll be trying more Uruguayan food and wine matches after the success of this evening!
Thankfully a bunch of wine bloggers who I have connected with on Twitter were happy to help me out. Check out this post by Jill Barth which includes hers and many other bloggers suggestions on Uruguayan wine and food matches.
Jill also shared this post with me on the South America Wine Guide which has so many yummy recommendations. I really want to try “Revuelto Gramajo” an Uruguayan street food dish consisting of fries, eggs, cheese and a lot of deliciousness!
I loved reading about Uruguayan food as it’s a mix of all sorts. There’s a lot of South American influences, alongside Italian, Spanish and more!
Anyway, I decided to cook the following:
Beef & Olive Empanadas with Mayonnaise
I have been waiting for an excuse to try this recipe! I knew it was going to take a bit of effort and I thought my Uruguayan dinner was the perfect excuse. The recipe is from the Ripe Deli – A Fresh Batch recipe book.
I am extremely proud as I made the dough and filling from scratch. While I couldn’t get them to look as pretty as in the book, they did taste pretty nice! Warm and cold the next day too 😉
I also made the homemade mayonnaise recipe from the same book. It suggested to match them with it, so I thought why not.
We tried both the Sauvignon Blanc and Arneis/Chardonnay with the empanadas. The Sauv went exceptionally well with the mayo while the Arneis/Chardonnay wasn’t as good with the mayo but matched up with the buttery empanada pastry and filling quite well.
To be honest I was incredibly surprised how much we enjoyed the wines with them. A wonderful match!!
Rib Ragu & Goats Cheese Salad
For the main, I decided to opt for Good Pair Day’s suggested recipes for the Sauv and Tannat.
The suggested recipe for the Sauv was a Goats Cheese Garden Salad with a lovely minty and oregano dressing. This did go very well with the Sauv, especially that goats cheese!
The suggested recipe for the Tannat was an ‘Easy Rib Ragu’. I popped this in the slow cooker for a good 6 hours and the meat was sooo tender. We liked the recipe but felt it needed a bit more flavour. A can of tomatoes in the mix with a bit of spice would have gone down well. The acidity of the tomatoes would have also gone well with the acidity in the wine.
However all up it was a pretty good night and we definitely had full happy bellies by the end of it!
So if you’re thinking of trying some wine from Uruguay – I would highly recommend it. And if you have the time to cook some matching dishes, please let me know how you get on!
If you have a favourite Uruguayan wine and/or dish, please let me know below!