Bodega Garzón Tannat 2013 Uruguay


From €9.85, $16.98, £11.99 

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Have you noticed how quickly the money counter spins when you fill your car with fuel? That’s how I imagined the costs involved in this huge new project created and funded by Argentine entrepreneur Alejandro Bulgheroni. 

Bulgheroni is co-director with Carlos Pulenta of Inversora Agroindustrial Sudamericana, which owns several other wine estates around the world, including Vistalba and Argento in Argentina, Renwood in California, Château Suau in Bordeaux and Dievole in Tuscany. Neatly, Argento was sold to Bulgheroni in 2012 by Bibendum, which now imports Garzón into the UK.

Advised by Italian oenologist Alberto Antonini – after thorough research into geology, climate and soil – that the undulating hills around the town of Garzón, just 18 km (11 m) from the Atlantic, would be good for grapes, Bulgheroni decided to start with a mere 200 ha, planted in 2007. To suit the local conditions, Antonini suggested Tannat, Uruguay’s most important red variety, and Albariño, previously grown only by boutique producer Bouza in Uruguay and best known in Rías Baixas in Spain’s cooler and wetter north west and in the adjacent Minho region of northern Portugal.

Whereas most of Uruguay’s Tannat vineyards are planted further inland on heavier and more water-retentive clay-based soils in the Canelones region, where vigour can interfere with grape ripening, here the soils are relatively shallow, stony, well-drained weathered granite – especially propitious given that the annual average rainfall here is 1,100-1,200 mm (more than in Bordeaux). Bodega Garzón was not the first prospector here but it is certainly the biggest. Juanico, an old and well-established producer based in Canelones, was apparently the first to plant in the Garzón region in 2007. Both companies produced their first vintage in 2011.

When I met up with Antonini in London last week, the word he used most often to describe the wines he is making in this ocean-cooled site was ‘energy’. I could see what he meant but it does not fully convey the cool, dry elegance of the Bodega Garzón Tannat 2013 . This variety is renowned for its firm tannins, especially in its French homeland of Madiran in south-west France. In this wine they are definite but very finely textured, marrying so well with lightly fragrant dark fruit flavours.

No expense has been spared to achieve this finesse. They imported French Tannat clones from Madiran rather than using those available locally, and planted at a relatively high (for Uruguay) density of 5,000 vines per hectare. And although they have planted 200 ha in total, this comprises about 1,000 small parcels of vines, spread over a distance of about 10 km to make the most of every contour and exposition, as shown in the photos above and below.

The winemaking – not yet in the brand-new, gravity-fed winery – is particularly gentle so as not to extract harsh or aggressive tannins, and as many of the seeds as possible are removed for the same reason. The fruit flavours in this Tannat are fully ripe – with over-vigorous vines it is common to get herbaceous flavours – but subtle. There’s no rumbustious richness here, nor domineering oak. Just 30% of the wine was aged in used barrels, the rest in stainless steel.

Antonini described the oak as simply a way of allowing the wine some exposure to oxygen, to soften the tannins, a temporary measure until the new winery is ready for the 2015 vintage. Whereas many producers use more oak barrels, and more new oak, as they approach the top of their quality pyramid, he prefers to use no oak barrels for his top wines – and not just in Uruguay.

He believes that at this early stage, with the vines still in their infancy, they have reached about 50% of the potential quality in this wine. ‘I can’t wait to see the vines ageing … In the new winery we will be fermenting in unlined, temperature-controlled concrete tanks and we will use concrete and large (2-3,000-litre) untoasted casks for the ageing. Using barrels makes sense only if you have to deal with grapes with some problem to be fixed – not if you deal with grapes coming from great terroirs, healthy and ripe.' (I am reminded not for the first time of  Concha y Toro’s Marcelo Papa, and his preference for fresher fruit flavours and these untoasted Italian casks or botti.)

This part of the country may still be better known for the nearby coastal resort of Punte del Este but it seems that it may soon become a magnet for producers looking for the fresher, more elegant styles exemplified by this extremely well-priced Uruguayan Tannat.

The wine is available in the Great Britain, Northern Ireland, Belgium, the Netherlands, the US and many other countries. See the table below for a full list of stockists. (I am told it is also available in Russia.)

Find this wine

Country Importer Stockist
UK Bibendum PLB Amphora Wines & Accessories
    Bacchanalia (AGDP)
    Bowland Forest Vintners
    Cambridge Wine Ltd
    Chester Beer & Wine
    Chislehurst Wines
    Corks and Cases
    Dalling & Co
    Hay Wines Ltd
    John Villar Wines
Northern Ireland Robb Bros The Vineyard Belfast
    Emersons Supervalu Armagh
    Fiveways Newry
    Kilkeel Winemarket Kilkeel
    Mc Entees Clonfad Newtownbutler
    Spar Hillview Randalstown
    Spar Wine Store Garvagh
    BP Eurospar Garvagh
    Spar Highfield Magherafelt
    Mc Swiggins
    Esplanade Bangor
    Bennett's Warrenpoint
    The Lighthouse White Abbey
    Nisa Irvinestown
    Gee's Supermarket Londonderry
    Muldoon's Costcutter Bellaghy
    Fruitfield Service Station Richill
    JD Tiplers Portadown
    P & G Foods Potadown
    Super Wines Drumahoe
    Lilley's Centra Enniskillen
    Crawford's Maghera
    Tom's Wine Barrel DownPatrick
    The Vintage Antrim
    Wineworks Saintfield
    The Wineyard Hilltown
    Village Cellars Donaghcloney
    The Donard Wineshop Newcastle
    Quinn's Newcastle
    Barbican Newcastle
    The Cohannon Inn Dungannon
    Chilled Derry
    Supervalu Moira
    The Old Comber Wineyard Comber
    Supervalu Dromore
    Carlisles Ballynahinch
Southern Ireland   Curious Wines Cork and Naas
    Curious Wines Bandon
Norway Bonum Beverages Vinmonopol shops
Denmark Løgismose Vin Løgismose vin & Delikatesser
    Løgismose vin c/o Magasin du Nord
    Restaurant Llama
    The Standard Jazz Klub
Germany Heinz Hein
    Edeka Stores
    Rewe Stores
    Handelshof and Stoetmann (Cash & Carry)
Portugal Prime Wine Apolonia Supermarket
    Parrilla Natural
France Soif d’Ailleurs Soif d’Ailleurs (Paris)
Austria Harrison Wine Harrison WineSelect (Vienna)
Belgium Ad Bibendum Ad Bibendum Stores
Finland Vinum Alko stores
Sweden Bibendum AB  
Hungary Winage Kft Winage shops
Malaysia Sunrise Wines & Spirits Wine Talk Malaysia
Australia Exclusive Vines The Oak Barrel
    Cloudwine Cellars
    Valley Cellar Door
    Buffalo Dining Club
    Barrio Cellar
    Speakeasy Bar
    Chester White cured diner
    Popol Nah
    The Owl House
Brazil World Wine Cia Zaffari
    World Wine- Rj
    Expand Wine Store
    Portal Dos Vinhos
    Eat Gourmet
    Sommelier Vinhos
    Premiere Classe
    Serrado Distribuidor
    La Botella
    Grupo Jmol Wine Busi
    Toque De Vinho
    Casa Sta Luzia
    Symposium Vinhos
    Emp Sirio Libanes
    Emporio Viseu
    Chateaux Des Montagn
    Candy Humaita
    Expand Vinhos
    Emporium Sabores Sul
    Onewine & Co
    Emporio Milano
    Padaria 13 De Maio
    Don Bistro
    Carla Cristiane
    Mondo Di Vino
    Rua Do Alecrim
    Bacco S
    Adega Santa Safra
    Ville Du Vin
    Wine Brasil
    Emporio Santa Cruz
    Expand Castelo
    Deli Delicia
    Emporio Bistro
    Superm Beal
    Emporio Do Brasil
    Emporio Viseu 2
    Malbec Bebidas
    Deli Delicias
    Emporio Sete
    Casa Palla Ltda
    Tanino Comercio
    Deposito Gourmet
    Garrafeira 520
    Emporio Gourmet
    Eat Trattoria
Uruguay Bodega Garzón Disco
    Tienda Inglesa
    Los Horneros
    Grand Cru
    Vinos del Mundo
    Gorlero Wine Shop
    Esencia Uruguay
USA Blends Wine Estates ABC Wine & Liquor (FL)
    Beverages & More (CA, AZ, HI)
    Bounty Hunter
    Whole Foods(CA, FL)
    Pensylvannia Liquor Control Booard
    Binny's (IL)