Tasting the Tannats of Uruguay, Spring 2024 Releases

Tasting the Tannats of Uruguay, Spring 2024 Releases

In a choice review last month, we had the opportunity and good fortune to enjoy a Tannat emanating from the vineyards of California’s Paso Robles region. By lucky coincidence, this happened to dovetail nicely into a simultaneously scheduled webinar with Master Sommelier, wine educator, and all-around amicable fellow Peter Granoff, who presented an overview of wines of Uruguay, as well as the pleasant qualities and attributes of the nation.

Tannat is largely regarded to be the wine of choice with Uruguayans, accounting for roughly 27% of all vineyard plantings (Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc round out the top four). To give one a geographic overview and some comparisons, Uruguay is roughly the size of Oklahoma in square footage (68,000 square miles), with a population a touch smaller than the fine state of Connecticut (3.4 million) and an all-encompassing vineyard planting close to California’s Alexander Valley. Uruguayans also eat a hell of a lot of meat: cows outnumber humans by 4 to 1 and Uruguayans consume more meat per capita than any other country in the world. Vegetarians: plan accordingly if visiting (although I am told there are a few excellent vegan establishments dotted throughout the country).

After the presentation, we were lucky enough to sample some recent Tannats from vineyards across different regions around the nation.

2020 Montes Toscanini Gran Tannat Premium – Pouring dark purple in the glass, complexity is present right from the onset, with a nose of raspberry and Bing cherry accentuated by coffee, baking spice, and dark chocolate notes. Fruit-forward on the palate with ripe tannins and moderate acidity, with lingering notes of toasted oak and gravel popping up on the finish. Montes Toscanini claims this to have an aging potential of up to 13 years. I find no reason to fault that estimation, although it is acceptable for consumption in the present day, and I would endorse allocating an hour of decanting before service. It certainly is a bottle worth consideration for a special occasion. A- / $50

2022 Establecimiento Juanicó Don Pascual Coastal Tannat – This affordable Tannat initially presents qualities Malbec fans would appreciate, with aromas of concentrated blackberry and cassis dominating in the glass. The monotony initially carries forward on the palate, but time and patience pay off and reveal complexity without compromising approachability. The dark fruit notes are joined by layers of white pepper, grilled meat, and a faint touch of salinity supporting a full and decadent finish. It’s quite delightful if you can spare the time to let it shine. A- / $16

2020 Viña Progreso Revolution Tannat – Brutish and complex throughout, there is a complete absence of subtlety here, with integrated notes of blackberry, roasted pork, and olive tapenade on the nose promising a good time on the palate. It makes good on that promise, with decent acidity supporting a delightful, balanced core of dark cherry, balsamic, and a faint touch of tobacco leaf on the finish. B+ / $18

2023 Castel Pujol Folklore Tinto – A blend of 80% Tannat and 20% Petit Manseng, and that 20% contribution makes a noticeable difference tempering some of the robust attributes normally associated with Tannat. Savory notes of spiced plum and green pepper alternate on the palate with herbs and black sour cherry lingering on the finish. It works well over dinner but allowing it to gain a mild chill in the fridge during the main course and enjoying afterward is also a plan of action worth endorsing. B+ / $23

2020 Bouza Tannat – Lively with plenty of oak running throughout, the wine leads with rich cranberry and cassis on the nose, but dark cherry cuts through with a bit of time in the glass. The red berry notes carry forward on the palate, balanced by savory notes of baking spice, mocha, and vanilla on the finish. Sturdy on tannins and well structured, it is easygoing and, like most of these Tannats, could pair well with nearly any grilled meat of choice. B / $27

Our thanks to our friends at Creative Palate for the opportunity to participate in this seminar.

2020 Montes Toscanini Gran Tannat Premium

$50
9

Rating

9.0/10

Rob Theakston is a contributing editor to Drinkhacker.

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