The Crown Jewel – the ‘Single Vineyard’ Tannat is a force to be reckoned with. This year’s Decanter Magazine’s Best in Show: Single Varietal Red. Out of 17,000+ wines, this stunner stole the show. The impressive accolade is well-deserved. Garzón has produced a Tannat to not only rival those of its accepted “homeland” – France – but to stand proud amongst Bordeaux, Cabs and the noble red wines of the world. A deep, dark purple in the glass hints at the brooding flavors to come. It greets your tongue with a host of dark fruit that delectably threatens with its diabolical plan to hijack your taste buds and make them its slave. Generous bastions of red fruit (strawberry, cherry, currant) push through, though, and create a vibrant and full-bodied colossus that is balanced and plush. This is unlike ANY Tannat you have ever encountered. It is lush and loaded rather than being the tannic, rustic beast it usually is; a contender for a multitude of food or lone wolf imbibing. Less than 2,000 cases produced.
Hear ye! Hear ye! Now on deck, the new kid on the “Rising-Stars-Of-Wine” roster…Uruguay! Yes folks, you heard us right – Uruguay (that lovely little hideaway country between Brazil and Argentina). Uruguay’s wine industry is present in 15 out of the 19 departments in the country and is home to over 9,000 hectares of mainly family-owned vineyards. It seems to have adopted Tannat as its iconic grape, but also produces a wide variety of reds and whites that benefit from the granite and sandy loam soils (called ‘balasto’) and the crucial influence of the balmy breezes and maritime climate of the Atlantic Ocean (in the Punta del Este region). At the helm as one of the ambassadors of premium Uruguayan wine is the stunning Bodega Garzón – the first LEEDS-certified (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) winery outside of the United States. Founded in 1999 by Alejandro and Bettina Bulgheroni - a renowned agro-industrial entrepreneur - the winery team also includes enologist Alberto Antonini (of Frescobaldi and Antinori fame), winemaker Germán Bruzzone and agronomist Eduardo Felix. Garzón’s complex grid of vineyards includes over 1,000 different plots which provide the peculiar terroirs that give the individual wines such a singular elegance and character. Grapes are hand-harvested into small bins and then hand-sorted and sent through an optical laser sorting machine to ensure that only the very best fruit reaches your bottle. Fermentation occurs in concrete vats and “tulips” (see picture) and are aged in untoasted French oak. Yes, untoasted! These “live” containers maintain the natural and individual integrity of the wines. The sustainably farmed grapes undergo minimal handling and enjoy the benefits of fermenting with their native yeasts – all the better to extract the unique qualities of each plot’s varietal. You recall those afore-mentioned concrete “tulips”? They are constructed in such a way that the curvature at the bottom allows the grapes to be suspended in a sort of “perpetual motion” element, thus eliminating the need for punch-downs or pump-overs. These are the same concrete tanks that are used by Petrus in Bordeaux. Yet another gesture towards their “hands-off” approach to winemaking and an incredible investment destined to keep their quality constantly trending upward. But Bodega Garzón is not only famous for its cutting-edge winery and wines; within its 10,000-acre property – Agroland - it also raises cattle and produces pecans, almonds, honey and olive oil! It is also home to Restaurante Bodega Garzón – an unparalleled dining experience headed up by the globally-recognized chef, Francis Mallman (Argentina’s most famous chef). Truly an endeavor of love and respect for the locale and its bounty.WS 91