Uruguay is a small country located in South America, between Argentina and Brazil. Despite its small size, Uruguay has a rich winemaking history and produces a variety of high-quality wines. The country's wine industry has been growing in recent years, and Uruguay is becoming increasingly known for its leading wines - Tannat & Albarino.
Winemaking History & Terroir
Uruguay's winemaking history dates back to the early 19th century, when Spanish and Italian immigrants first introduced grapevines to the country. In the mid-19th century, the Tannat grape was introduced to Uruguay by Basque immigrants, and it quickly became one of the country's most important grape varieties.
Nestled between Argentina & Brazil, the wines are surprisingly different, being more comparable to European wine regions such as Portugal or Bordeaux. The country's terroir, characterized by its mild climate, clay soils, and proximity to the Atlantic Ocean, is ideal for growing a variety of grape varieties. The majority of Uruguay's vineyards are located in the central region of the country, where the climate is warm and dry, and the soils are rich in clay.
Similar to Canada & South Africa, this "New Meets Old World" region is exciting, and their wines are just making their name in the modern wine world, with much still to discover.
Grape Varietals & Wine Styles
Uruguay is known for its unique grape varietals, including Tannat, Viognier, and Albarino. In addition to these unique grape varietals, Uruguay also produces wine from more common grape varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc. These wines are made using traditional winemaking techniques and are known for their balance and complexity, with a good acidity and moderate alcohol content.
Tannat is the country's most important grape variety and is used to make full-bodied, tannic red wines with a high alcohol content. A varietal of southern french origin, Tannat wines are known for their dark color, high tannins, and rich flavors of dark fruit such as blackberries and plums. They also have a good acidity and aging potential. Tannat wines are usually aged in oak barrels which adds complexity and vanilla notes.
With over 100 years of experience with Tannat, it's become an established symbol of Uruguayan wine. It's resistance to climate & vintage variations, as well as ability to express the terroir, makes it's an exciting discovery.
Albarino, a grape variety originally from Spain, is used to make crisp, acidic white wines. A grape that's rapidly growing in popularity in Uruguay, it's a easy fit as the climate is similar to that of Galicia & Vinho Verde. Albarino wines are known for their floral and fruity aromas, with notes of apple, peach and apricot, as well as a slight minerality. They are high in acidity and have a light to medium bod, and Uruguayan styles have mineral expressions that give the wines a little more structure.
Viognier is a white grape variety that is used to make floral, fruity white wines with a high acidity. Viognier wines are known for their aromas of apricot, peach, and tropical fruits, as well as a slight minerality. They have a high acidity and a rich, oily texture on the palate. They are also known for their aging potential, and can develop complex aromas and flavors over time.
Major Wine Making Regions
Uruguay has several important wine-making regions, each with its own unique terroir and wine-making traditions.
Canelones is the largest and most important wine-making region in Uruguay, known for its high-quality red wines made from Tannat and Merlot grapes. The region is located in the central part of the country, near the capital city of Montevideo, and has a warm, dry climate and clay soils that are ideal for growing grapes. Canelones is also home to many of Uruguay's largest and most respected wineries, such as Bodega Garzon, which produces high-quality red and white wines using sustainable winemaking methods, and Bodega Bouza, which produces a variety of red and white wines using traditional winemaking techniques.
Maldonado is a region located near the Atlantic coast, known for its white wines made from Viognier and Albarino grapes. The region has a cooler climate and sandy soils, which are well suited to growing these grape varieties. Maldonado is also home to many small, family-owned wineries, such as Bodega Juanico, known for its white wines made from Viognier and Albarino grapes, and Bodega Carrau, known for its red and white wines made from Tannat and Viognier grapes.
Colonia is a small region located near the border with Argentina, known for its red wines made from Tannat grapes. The region has a cooler climate and clay soils, which are well suited to growing Tannat grapes. Colonia is home to some of Uruguay's most renowned wineries, such as Bodega Juanicó, known for its high-quality Tannat wines.
Uruguay's wine industry is growing and is becoming increasingly known for its unique grape varietals and wine styles. The country's terroir, characterized by its mild climate, clay soils, and proximity to the Atlantic Ocean, is ideal for growing a variety of grape varieties. Tannat, Viognier, and Albarino are the most important grape varieties in Uruguay, but the country also produces wine from more common grape varieties such as Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Merlot.