Tannat and South American Wine
This was a great find. If you’ve never heard of tannat wine, you are not alone. Prior to traveling to Uruguay, we had never heard of tannat wine, and we drink a lot of wine and have traveled a lot. We have also traveled a lot around South America and still didn’t know it!
So bear with me while I explain the story. If you know anything about South American wine, Argentina is known for its Malbec and Mendoza is its famous wine region. (Tip: look for a Malbec from Mendoza in the wine shop, chances are high it will be a good wine!)
Chile is known for Carmenere. This grape was thought to be lost to the world due to disease that wiped out all the known vines in Europe in the 19th century. It is one of the original wine grapes from the Bordeaux Valley in France. It was “rediscovered” in the mid 1990’s in Chile by a French wine expert that had come to provide assistance to the Chilean wine industry. In Chile it was thought to be Merlot, but when analyzed it was discovered this was the long lost Carmenere grape from France. Vines had been brought over to establish a wine industry (prior to the disease spreading throughout Europe). Today Chile’s best known red wine is the Carmenere. This is another one to look for in your local wine shop.
Uruguay and Tannat Wine
So that brings us to Uruguay and tannat wine. This is the wine earning Uruguay an international reputation for fine wine. And tannat, a red wine, high in tannins, thus the name, is leading the way. A tannat is perfect with red meat, which conveniently makes up a large part of the Uruguay diet. You might recall from our earlier posts about Uruguay, they have the highest per capita beef consumption in the world! And here is the perfect wine to accompany it.
Uruguay is the fourth largest wine producer in South America (behind Chile, Argentina and Brazil), and tannat wine is the largest wine by production volume. For such a small country they are doing pretty well! And once you taste a tannat I am sure you will agree.
There is a wine region near Colonia, Carmelo. And if you are headed to Colonia, this is a good opportunity to visit a winery. You can read more about the area in our Colonia de Sacramento post. There are also some wineries on the way from Montevideo to Punta del Este, and near Jose Ignacio. And in our Montevideo post we shared a great place in town to go to taste local Uruguay wines.
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However, if you want an easy trip to a great winery near Montevideo, we recommend a trip to Bodega Bouza. The winery offers tours, tastings and has a full restaurant. And it is easy to get to from Montevideo.
Bodega Bouza (Winery) near Montevideo
Bodega Bouza is a family owned winery located 9 miles (15 kilometers) outside of Montevideo. The setting is magnificent and a great trip to escape the city and learn more about Uruguayan wine. The original house and building were built in 1942 to resemble a French Chateau, while the winery was started in 2002.
Bouza is one of Uruguay’s most awarded wineries. They have some excellent wines. They do export overseas so you can find some of their wines near you. Their excellent website lists the importers by country.
Offering a tour, wine tasting and with a full restaurant you can make an afternoon of it. Being the gluttons we are, we arranged to do the full tasting menu at the restaurant. It is a 7 course meal matched with their wines.
Honestly it was one of the best meals we have had, and at the price, it was certainly good value. The setting is superb, with the restaurant set overlooking the vines. You can also view the classic car collection. It is an amazing collection of vintage cars for a private collector.
Dining options include outside dining or in the restaurant. We took the inside option as it was very warm the day of our visit.
Bodega Bouza is also a good place to try Destilado de Orujo, Uruguay’s version of grappa. It can’t be called grappa because it is not from Italy. You might recall we discovered authentic Italian grappa in Veneto, Italy and have become big fans.
Getting to Bodega Bouza
Bodega Bouza is easy to get to, we took a taxi from the city and called one when we were finished. Taxis are cheap in Uruguay, so this was a hassle free way to travel there. You can also take the bus. The winery’s website has excellent directions.
It was a great meal, accompanied by great wines, in a beautiful setting and the service was excellent. All in all just a great experience and we have talked about this lunch many times since! We highly recommend visiting Bodega Bouza if you have the opportunity.
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Finding Uruguay Tannat Wine to Enjoy at Home
In addition to Bodega Bouza, a few other labels to look for in your local wine shop include: Artesana, Cato Mayor, Pizzorno, Narbona and Garzon. We have mentioned Narbona (near Carmelo) and Garzon (near Jose Ignacio) in other posts as well.
We found Tannat in the local wine shop in Denver. If you have a good wine shop nearby or know of one that imports South American wines ask if you don’t find one. A great bottle of Tannat wine is somewhere around $15 to $20 USD.
Thinking we wouldn’t find tannat in the states we bought several bottles in Uruguay and took them with us to share with friends. One friend that works in a wine store in NYC had also not heard of Tannat. But know that you know, and the secret is out, if you look I am sure you will find one. Some friends told us they saw Tannat wine from Uruguay recently at a wine show in Boston.
Where to Learn More about Uruguay
If you enjoyed this post you might also enjoy these other posts about Uruguay and their food and wine:
- How to Make Uruguay’s Golden Veal Milanesa (also about Punta del Este, the Riviera of Uruguay)
- How to Make the Best Beet with Goat Cheese and Walnut Salad (perfect with a glass of Tannat)
- Picturesque Colonia de Sacramento: How to Make the Most of your Visit (a UNESCO World Heritage town near Uruguay’s wine region of Carmelo, and a short ferry ride from Buenos Aires)
- Awesome Provoleta- Grilled Provolone Cheese- Is Quick and Easy – great recipe for the grill (and a glass of Tannat) and talks about the Mercado del Puerto in Montevideo, a must visit for any self respecting meat lover- complete with video!
- The Fantastic Music and Food of Uruguay in Montevideo– learn more about Uruguay’s capital, where to taste wine in the city, and all about Uruguay’s candombe music and Carnival. (Includes a great dance video as well)
- The Best of the Culture and Food of Uruguay– to learn more about this often overlooked gem in South America
- The Chivito Steak Sandwich is a Classic You Will Love (with a great description of the famous Montevideo Rambla (where all the locals hang out).
Please leave us a comment and let us know if you have heard of tannat wine, and/or if you find it near you. If you do buy one and enjoy a bottle with a good steak!