Well, everyone arrived safe & sound. We started straight away on a tour of Montevideo and I must say first impressions were very positive. Uruguay reminds you immensely of a European city rather than South America. Very cosmopolitan, well kept with ocean views everywhere.After a few hours of rest during which I went back into town to visit the Gaucho Mudeum, we went to our opening welcome dinner at the wine bistro Los Corchos. Opened recently in the Old Town section by an extremely enthusiastic young couple, Los Corchos aims to educate you about the wine and food of Uruguay. Alexa has prepared an excellent video presentation with exclusive interviews with some of the countrys top winemakers. Here are some of the most salient things we learned about Uruguay:
*Uruguay is located between latitudes 30 & 35, similar to the great European wine regions
*Unlike Argentina & Chile, wineries in Uruguay are small family run affairs.
*While Argentina & Chile produce 2 million tons of grapes yearly, Uruguay only produces 15,000 tons
*There are now 280 wineries but only 25 top quality producers
*Don Harriague introduced the Tannat grape in Uruguay in the late 1800s and until recently the tannat grape was called Harriague
*Tan comes from Occitan language and hence the word tannin
*The Amat Tannat from Bodega Carrau was listed as one of the 1001 wines to try before you die; and we tried it tonight. Both tannats we tried tonight with our meal were very different with some preferring the Stagnari Viejo while others with expensive tastes preferred the Carrau. ($60)
The surprise of the evening was the worlds only sparkling tannat produced by Bodega Pisano. Made by the traditional method, I thought it completed the canapés pretty well. It is not very often that a winelover can taste a dry red sparkling wine.
Tomorrow we have 3 winery visits, not least of which is at Pisano where the family will prepare our lunch. It should be a great day for us novice Uruguay wine lovers.