On the day that Singapore enters phase two of reopening, effectively ending what has been ten weeks of full lockdown, Singapore resident Richard recommends a full-bodied red that drinks beautifully whatever the weather.
From $23.49, £22, €24.99, HK$450 (per magnum), 199.95 Danish kroner, 2,990 Argentine peso, 249 Brazilian real
Rare are the times that, when living in constant heat and humidity, you long for a beefy, tannic, high alcohol wine – or so you might think. Yet just as Brits continue to suck down Sauvignon Blanc through their dark, cold winters, Singaporeans have an abiding appetite for heavyweight reds.
The usual suspects are well catered for, from Châteauneuf-du-Pape to Amarone to Australian Shiraz. But it is a mark of Singapore's sophistication as a wine market that it can also boast Uruguayan Tannat (and, incidentally, the same producer's Albariño) among hundreds of other more esoteric options.
I tasted the 2017 vintage of Garzón's Single Vineyard Tannat when it was offered to me by Singaporean wine merchant 1855, and was delighted to discover how such a big wine could be so drinkable. My tasting note contained the words voluminous, plump, tar and firm but also rounded, balanced and authentic. I see that Julia found similar characters in her two tasting notes from last year, both of which she scored 17, a half-point ahead of my own – a most unusual occurrence! She chose the 2013 vintage, not yet designated single-vineyard, as her wine of the week back in 2015.
Not only is this wine verifiably delicious (the inaugural 2015 vintage scored 17.5), it is ideal fodder for wine lovers, offering a relatively rare combination of variety and origin at an entirely fair price.
The site for this single-vineyard wine is one of the estate's coolest and best-drained, and that is reflected in the style. This is no plush, luxurious New World red; instead, it has the sort of savoury character, just-ripe fruit and spicy complexity that befits vines that have had work hard to ripen their grapes.
Yet the tannins, for which Tannat is infamous, are entirely tamed and bevelled, giving structure without astringency. So well balanced are they that my bottle was perfectly drinkable at a temperature of around 14 °C (57 °F). Even at such a theoretically uncomplimentary temperature, the character of the variety still shone through, with ample cherry fruit, tar and black tea savoury notes and generous but balanced oak spice from up to 18 months in French casks.
You can read more about this groundbreaking estate in the far south-east of Uruguay, where Alberto Antonini is consultant, in Uruguay 2017 – the wines.
The 2017 vintage is well distributed across the UK, the US and Europe, with the two preceding vintages still available in some markets. Here on the sweltering equator, it will be sold by 1855 by August at SG$63 per bottle (the original May launch was postponed by COVID-19).