Top 5 Uruguay wines

Uruguayan sommelier Federico de Moura on his favourite homegrown wines.

Uruguay's top somm Federico de Moura.
Uruguay’s top somm Federico de Moura.

Although some might be surprised to hear that Uruguay has a wine industry, they might also be surprised to hear that the small industry is blooming. The Latin American country’s top sommelier, Federico de Moura, leads oenological affairs at the Sofitel Montevideo Casino Carrasco and Spa and represented his nation at the 2013 Concours du Sommelier in Tokyo.

“Having explored alternatives as diverse as sparkling wine, whites, rosés and reds,” he says.  “[Uruguay] is also producing Tannat liqueurs in a Port style, and even great wines with botrytis like the Sauternes.” Here, Federico shares his five favourite Uruguayan wines.

Fusión 2009 Viña Varela Zarranza
This comes from a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Tannat and Merlot, respectively, and shows an intense violet colour with a berry-like hue. In the nose, there are marked caramel and wood notes on top of a fresh support that offers up camphor with spiced flashes such as allspice and cardamom. A dry wine, with a drying tannic line and something slightly bitter towards the end, with a perception of caramel and toasted wood, the secondary taste is toasted coffee and dark mature fruit. A correct wine that needs more time ageing in the bottle. Best served with barbecued baby beef with a red wine salsa and roasted sweet potatoes.

Finca Agostino Pinot Nero 2008 Bodega de Lucca
A ruby red wine with cherry meniscus. In the nose, you’ll find fresh strawberry, mature cherry, quince jelly and a light floral base that dips into violets. In the mouth it’s dry and fresh, evolving in a sweet way with light, rounded tannins. Marked acidity, but it isn’t aggressive; it sustains it and gives it vitality. A frank and light wine that reminds you of mature quince, followed by a light herbal character with a touch of pepper. A very well-balanced wine that can be kept for four years. Pair it with caprese-stuffed ravioli with cherry tomatoes, olive oil and fresh basil.

Tannat B6 Parcela Unica 2011 Bodega Bouza
A red granite colour that’s both intense and profound. In the nose we can appreciate aromas such as cassis liqueur, and plum and blueberry jam on top of marked toasted wood note that offers up touches of vanilla and coffee. A greatly opulent wine that is tasty and fleshy in the mouth, with a sweet and fruit beginning, with flavours of dried banana as well as cocoa and tobacco with a subtle vanilla finish. Its end is slightly bitter, which gives it complexity and makes it more attractive; its tannins are marked but not excessively drying – a wine with a big future. Age for eight to 10 years. Pair with a mature steak braised in red wine with a mushroom risotto.

Don Próspero Sauvignon Blanc 2012 Bodega Pizzorno
A straw-like yellow with green tones, it’s clear and shiny. In the nose it has intense white peach notes, as well as mango and tomato shoots atop a base of marmalade, passion fruit and guayaba. In the mouth, its attack is dry, evolving with marked acidity. It’s also fleeting and intense with great freshness and balance, with a wide character that includes mango, papaya and melon notes towards the end. It’s also lightly mineral with medium persistence. Keep it for two more years. Serve with a green leaf salad with a warm, breadcrumbed Camembert and citrus dressing.

Sust Vintage 2010 Brut Nature Bodegas Carrau

A sparkling wine made with Chardonnay at its base, harvested at three different moments with different levels of maturity via the methode champenoise. With 18 months on lees, in the glass it’s an intense straw yellow with golden reflections. A clean nose, it opens up to peach and pear preserves atop crusty bread and glazed fruit. A defined taste of mature white fruit and cooked pineapple with a secondary taste of bread pudding and crusty bread. Drink as soon as possible and definitely within the year. Pair with a prawn carpaccio with a grapefruit and avocado dressing and pistachio toast.

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