Behold the rising star of South America´s wine scene: Uruguay! With its famous Tannat leading the way, the Uruguayan wine knew how to win the heart of multiple wine drinkers all over the world and this phenomenon promises to keep on growing. Not for nothing, here at Anuva, we included a new interesting section of Uruguayan Wines at our Online Wine Store. We want to be part of the movement and encourage people to try amazing premium quality URUWines!
So, in order to understand a bit more about the wines from La Banda Oriental (The Oriental Band, as popularly called down here), today we are gonna travel through the main regions of the Uruguayan Wine country. Lets begin learning why Uruguay is such in a fine place in the map to produce high quality wines:
Uruguay enjoys a privileged geographical position to become a leading country in the production of fine wines. It is located between parallels 30 and 35 (south latitude), exactly where the best wine regions of Argentina, Chile, South Africa and Australia can be found. The Uruguayan Atlantic maritime climate can be compared with the Bordeaux region in France, although here is a bit warmer. The sun intensity resembles the Argentinean and Chilean, but here we have to tale in account the cooling influence of the currents of cold air coming up from Antarctica that decreases the temperatures abruptly. Finally, its clay soil and the balanced distribution of sunshine, rain and temperatures is optimal for the growth of the vineyards.
When it comes to the regions where these top notch uruwines come from, here are the most important ones:
In the Department of Colonia, west side of the country, right in the limit with Argentina is where we can find this region famous because of its wineries. Here, a perfect microclimate generated by the union of the Uruguay and Parana rivers that form the great estuary of the River Plate makes the warm water masses come from the north and converge off the coast of Carmelo. This, is perfect to develop the vines of the region.
Carmelo is a synonym of Fine Wine in Uruguay and each year more wineries take interest in this land to begin new projects. Although in this regions wine has been present for more than 100 years, in the last decade the wine tourism has grown exponentially with the high quality wines coming from Carmelo. Apart from the flagship Tannat, you can find great examples of Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and even Pinot Noir. Fortunately, we found great examples of Carmelo wines from Narbona and Familia Irurtia wineries in Anuva. We cannot wait to add more!
Just 45 kM away from the capital Montevideo in the south center part of Uruguay, Canelones is where we find the biggest concentration of wineries in the nation (actually, around 60% of them). The family tradition is huge in this region: more than 350 families dedicated directly to this activity, with small, medium and big scale producers and plenty of styles of wines. Canelones is known as the main region in terms of oenologic tourism.
It has a temperate climate with an average temperature of 16.6° C. (62° F.) with warm summers and cool winters with some frosts. The southern region in particular has a distinctive climate when the grapes are ripening, there is an important difference in temperature graduation between day and night. This is due to the Atlantic Ocean influence and the cool breezes that blow from the river Plate during the night, that actually makes possible the irrigation of the soil without using artificial methods.
The capital has its own major importance when it comes to the wine industry in Uruguay. Surrounded by rivers and mounts, its vineyards develop very unique grapes for distinguished wines with amazing personality. This has to do mainly with the closeness to the sea. Due to climate and ocean winds in the area, excellent microclimate is created, generating a significant thermal equilibrium between day and night. While the daytime temperatures are ideal for the ripening of the grapes, overnight fresh ocean winds achieve the ideal climate to preserve the grapes acidity. When it comes to the soil, clay, heel and an outstanding drainage of water, ensures excellent conditions for the development of high quality grapes.
It is pretty easy to find wine tours in this region, with the possibility of visiting boutique and not so boutique wineries near the coastal region of Montevideo. Also, antique establishments of the wine industry and the Uruguayan Wine Museum.
The Rivera Department is located on the other side of the country, north center part of Uruguay, very close to the limit with Brazil. I specially mention this region, as although is not among the biggest ones in terms of surface of land, the quality of the wines obtained in this area is premium and fabulous examples of red and white wines can be found. And if we talk about Rivera and high quality wines we got to talk about Cerro Chapeu. This subregion is located at more than 1000 feet high surrounded by the hills typical flat in this region. Red and deep sandy soils, low fertility and good drainage prevent the excess of moisture in the ground. Ideal for Tannat, Sauvignon blanc. Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon.
A great example of experience and dedication in Cerro Chapeu is Bodega Carrau. A winery considered one of the most innovative in South America for its design in harmony with the environment, the use of gravity and cellar in the Cerro which are one of the latest contributions to Oenology in the country.
For more information on the regions, wineries and wines from Uruguay stay tuned to our posts on Uruguayan Wines in the Anuva Blog. Thanks very much my wine loving amigos! Good wines, good life!