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  • Julia Harding MW
Written by
  • Julia Harding MW
19 Jun 2015

From €9.85, $16.98, £11.99 

Find this wine

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.

Garzon_3-6.jpg

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)
Bacchus
Bowland Forest Vintners
Cambridge Wine Ltd
Chester Beer & Wine
Chislehurst Wines
Corks and Cases
Dalling & Co
Hay Wines Ltd
John Villar Wines
Liquorice
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 www.viva-vinum.de
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
Manta
Buffalo Dining Club
Barrio Cellar
Speakeasy Bar
Chester White cured diner
Dandylion
Piqueos
Popol Nah
The Owl House
Brazil World Wine Cia Zaffari
World Wine- Rj
Expand Wine Store
Portal Dos Vinhos
Eat Gourmet
Sommelier Vinhos
Vinexpand
Premiere Classe
Serrado Distribuidor
La Botella
Grupo Jmol Wine Busi
Toque De Vinho
Cinemark
Casa Sta Luzia
Symposium Vinhos
Emp Sirio Libanes
Emporio Viseu
Wineexpress
Chateaux Des Montagn
Candy Humaita
Expand Vinhos
Emporium Sabores Sul
Onewine & Co
Lorangerie
Emporio Milano
Padaria 13 De Maio
Don Bistro
Carla Cristiane
Mondo Di Vino
Vibonatti
Rua Do Alecrim
Bacco S
Adega Santa Safra
Ville Du Vin
Wine Brasil
Nordestao
Emporio Santa Cruz
Expand Castelo
Deli Delicia
Emporio Bistro
Superm Beal
Emporio Do Brasil
Emporio Viseu 2
Malbec Bebidas
Deli Delicias
Degustar
Vinalia
Emporio Sete
Casa Palla Ltda
Tanino Comercio
Candy
Mercearia
Deposito Gourmet
Garrafeira 520
Emporio Gourmet
Eat Trattoria
Uruguay Bodega Garzón Disco
Devoto
Geant
Tienda Inglesa
Croabas
Vizcarras
Alvear
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)
Wine.com
Bounty Hunter
Whole Foods(CA, FL)
Pensylvannia Liquor Control Booard
Binny's (IL)