Uruguay wines were trending on Wednesday, March 5 during #winechat hosted by Protocol Wine Studio. We were chatting about Bodegas Carrau 2013 Sauvignon Blanc Sur Lie and 2010 Tannat Reserva.
There were 40 active participants from around the world on Twitter with more than 300 messages in the hour. In San Diego, a group of us paired the wines from Uruguay with incredible food of Pamplona and for Lent Pascualina at Cueva Bar.
While Uruguay wines are still new to most Americans, we were fortunate to have some excited tasters who had learned about the region at the 2013 Wine Blogger Conference. According to Wines of Uruguay, the country has 3,500 growers, 270 wineries, 22,000 acres of vines and 10 million cases of wine produced annually. The signature wine is Tannat with 22% of the vineyard plantings.
Our focus was on Bodegas Carrau with five siblings working to honor more than 260 years of winemaking by their ancestors. The family has two vineyards, 1) in Cerro Chapeau in northern Uruguay and 2) in Las Violetas in southern Uruguay.
The 2013 Bodegas Carrau Sauvignon Blanc is in Cerro Chapeau with an elevation of more than 1,000 feet over sea level, the highest vineyard in Uruguay. Here were the responses to this Sauvignon Blanc:
@JamesTheWineGuy B. Carrau Uruguay Sauv Blanc Sur Lie 13 > delicate notes of quince, yellow-pink citrus, fennel, tea, and white peach -> absolute delight
@winegrapestone found very good acidity in the Sauv. Blanc. Surprising for the latitude. Mellow passion fruit from the sur lie.
@SLHousman 2013 Bodegas Carrau Sauvignon Blanc Uruguay Tastes of green apples & pineapple slight floral finish
@themarymaynard The Sauvignon Blanc is buttery and mineral and I have a friend drinking it with me who say she will be buying it soon!!
@thewinecompass I think its cool they produce the Sauvignon Blanc sur lie. I remember a little yeastiness with the citrus
@themarymaynard I loved the sur lie also!!
@winegrapestone reminds me of the way merryedwards makes SB in Sonoma. Goes for $40+/bottle
@SacredDrop I agree! The SauvBlanc is smooth yet has a great amount of acidity and finishes strong.
@alawine 2013 Bodegas Carrau Sauvignon Blanc: Apple, pineapple, grapefruit, smooth, round, bright acidity. #7wordwinereview
@artpredator Wow so surprised & pleased by crisp yet rich& very aromatic 2013 bodegas carrau sauv blanc Uruguay! Love that its sur lies!
@amylieberfarb Clear white wine w/ green hues, Herbal bouquet reminds me of honeysuckle
@themarymaynard Buttery, smooth, refreshing, mineral #bodegascarrau Sauvignon Blanc
@artpredator As it opens, sauv blanc Bodegas Carrau moves from bright stone fruit to more citrus. It also changes a lot as it warms
The 2010 Bodegas Carrau Tannat is in the Las Violeta regions with an elevation of only 150 feet over sea level. Here were the responses to this Tannat.
@SacredDrop Tannat from Uruguay, tobacco, cigar box with dark berries, dry with good acidity and length.
@winegrapestone Tannat lots of plum and earth/leaves. Also good acidity. Well managed tannins.
@SacredDrop Tannat Reserva- Tobacco, licorice, candied cherries and red berries- Med-Full body.
@artpredator Lovely & unexpected complexity in nose of Bodegas Carrau 2010 tannat Las Violetas Uruguay & of course deep ruby red violet rim
@50StatesofWine Bodegas Carrau 2010 Tannat Reserva - vineyard grapevines are 25 years old on average
@JamesTheWineGuy B. Carrau Las Violetas Uruguay Tannat de Reserva 2010 - 13.5% ABV - alluringly dry - loving it.
@alawine 2010 Bodegas Carrau Tannat Reserva: medium body, whole plum, long dry nish #7wordwinereview very satisfying
@SLHousman Bottle #2 2010 Bodegas Carrau Tannat Tastes of dark plums & toasty oak
@amylieberfarb I'm used to Fruit forward Pinot Noir & this pleasantly surprising...no fruit notes but great oak
@wild4wawine Believe Tannat a great conversation starter and would please/surprise friends
We just took a selection of the Tweets for this recap. We are grateful for all the participants and for the following bloggers in spreading the word on Uruguay wines!
@wild4wawine Bodegas Carrau Winemaking Passion in Uruguay @OWOCwines
@winecompass The Unique Wines of Uruguay Tasting Tour 2013: Tannat and White Impress
@themarymaynard Bodegas Carrau Sauvignon Blanc "Sur Lie"
The Rose Wine Pub on 30th and Our World, Our Community present Wines from Uruguay new releases from Bodegas Carrau
Tuesday, November 5
7-9 pm with brief talk at 7:30 pm
Our World, Our Community has expanded its portfolio to now include wines from Uruguay! Have your first taste at The Rose Wine Pub where you’ll receive three glasses of wine, one vegetable empanada and one beef empanada. We are so EXCITED we are pouring something very special…we only have 5 cases of Amat…which we are pouring that night. Amat is one of Neil Beckett’s 1001 Wines You Must Taste Before You Die.
Located at The Rose Wine Pub on 30th
2219 30th St
San Diego, CA 92104
2013 Bodegas Carrau Sauvignon Blanc Sur Lie
2010 Bodegas Carrau Tannat Reserva
2008 Bodegas Carrau Amat
About Bodegas Carrau
For more than 260 years the Carrau family has been contributing to winemaking. Now the eighth generation of Carrau men as winemakers continues this passion in Uruguay at Bodegas Carrau. They established the first gravity-fed winery in South America, practice sustainable farming techniques and have two different vineyards in northern and southern Uruguay.
About The Rose Wine Pub on 30th
The Rose Wine Pub is based in San Diego’s South Park on 30th Street. The Rose is named for the historic location it occupies, the restored 1927 Rose Grocery building, and in honor of the owner’s grandmother, Rose Miranda. Designed to encompass aspects of all four seasons, The Rose envelops customers in a mixture of materials such as reclaimed word of a historic South Park home, stone and metal.
About Our World, Our Community
Our World, Our Community imports high quality wines while sharing the story of the people who produce the wine with the people who enjoy drinking the wine. We are based in San Diego and when we lived in Argentina we found every wine has a story.
Last week, I attended TexSom a unique wine education event (August 10-12, 2013) at Four Seasons Resort & Club in Las Colinas. TexSom was founded in 2005 by Master Sommeliers James Tidwell and Drew Hendricks.
Everything is bigger in Texas and in this two-day conference there were 31 Master Sommeliers, four Master of Wines and other wine experts leading the sessions and as judges. Below are my notes from a few of the sessions.
Traditional Method Sparkling Wines
Charles Curtis, MW
With a Sunday session on sparkling wines at 9:15 am, my brain was searching for orange juice for a mimosa. Instead of a mixed drink, Curtis led us through the different grapes, winemaking methods and styles in regions around the world for sparkling wines. Our tasting included Cava from Spain, Prosecco from Italy, Franciacorta from Italy, Sekt from Austria, Cuvee from Tasmania, Vouvray from France, Cremant d’Alsace from France and Malbec from Argentina. Suggested pairings for these sparkling wines include salty foods, meat and cheese platters and roasted nuts.
My favorite quote from Charles Curtis was “My definition of a happy meal is an order of fries and a bottle of Champagne.”
Exploring Terroir of Bordeaux
Ronan Sayburn, MS
Sayburn described the terroir, climate, environment, viticulture and innovations in Bordeaux. He went beyond right bank versus left bank wines and dove into each region.
My favorite quote from Ronan Sayburn was “Bordeaux tastes like chewing pencils with wood and graphite.”
Varietal Focus: Merlot
Fred Dame, MS; Jay Fletcher, MS; Jay James, MS
The Master Sommeliers shared that Merlot is the most important varietal in Bordeaux. It is known as a “bailout grape” as it is an early ripening grape and if the rain is coming it can be ready to be picked fast. Our Merlots were from Napa, Sonoma, Chile, Washington and Bordeaux. From the knowledge of these greats and tastings, it became clear how challenging this varietal can be to taste blind. Unlike other varietals, Merlot does not have a distinguishing marker in the world. It does not have as high tannins as Cabernet Sauvignon, though it has high alcohol.
My favorite quote from Jay James was “Merlot shot in the temple by Sideways.”
Tasting Perspectives of Master Sommelier, Master of Wine, Certified Wine Educator
Peter Neptune, MS, AIWS, CWE and Sheri Sauter Morano, MW, CWE
For wine professionals, it can be difficult to determine which certification programs to pursue – best known are the Court of Master Sommeliers (CMS) with highest level a Master Sommelier, the Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET) with highest level a Master of Wine and Society of Wine Educators with highest level a Certified Wine Educator. There are theory and tasting portions to all exams with additional portions in certifications: CMS – service, WSET – value of wine and CWE – wine faults.
As all three exams have a tasting portion there was much discussion about it. Peter Neptune shared, “Blind tasting shouldn’t be a parlor game.” It should be based on wines typical to variety and typical to region. Sherri Sauter Morano said, “Sometimes the most obvious wines can screw you over (in testing).” Blind tastings in exams are about characteristics of the wine and it’s not about getting the wine correct. When preparing for blind tastings look for fruit, earth, wood and winemaking.
My favorite quote from Peter Neptune was “Very few wine critics have initials after their name with the exception of Jancis Robinson.”
Tasting Focus: Elements of Perception and Style
Tim Gaiser, MS
Tim’s been working on a project essentially mapping the brain of how people taste wines. I’ve been fascinated by his project, following it for years and it’s incredible to see how it continues to develop. He’s modeling tasting strategies of top wine professionals. He shared his findings from his project sessions and the importance of a consistent starting place visually with a tasting sequence. He directed us to create a consistent starting point with our eyes in wine tasting, how to make an olfactory image connection, how to find images in our brain of what we smell or taste in our glass and finally how to use imagery to calibrate the structure of wine. As I’m only giving you a snapshot of the conference sessions, I’d highly suggest learning more about Tim’s project via his website with updates on his blog too.
My favorite quote from Tim Gaiser was “If you want to improve how many things you can detect by smelling a wine practice active inhalation at the same time.”
Varietal Focus: Tannat
Keith Goldston, MS and Wayne Belding, MS
Tannat is a great example of how there are always grapes to be discovered and regions of the world to still explore in tasting wine. This varietal was first mentioned in Madiran in southwestern France. It’s planted in France, Uruguay, California, Virginia, Texas, Illinois, Georgia, British Columbia, Argentina, Brazil, Peru, Australia, Switzerland, South Africa and Japan. We tasted Tannat from France, Texas, California, Argentina and Uruguay where we noted the finish similar to Nebbiolo with pepper and horseradish characteristics. It will be interesting to follow this varietal as it continues to develop in wine markets around the world.
My favorite quote from Keith Goldson was “Cafayate (near Salta, Argentina) reminds me of Palm Springs with vineyards.”
In addition to these sessions our lunches each day included wines highlighted from Paul Hobbs and the Chianti Classico region. The first evening of the conference there were receptions with wines from Texas, Washington and others represented by Texas distributors.
The grand tasting had Texas specialties of Chicken Fried Steak Lollipop with white gravy. In the 90 minutes I attended of the grand tasting, I tried 46 wines ranging from Opus One to new wineries in California to international wines.
Already I have added next year’s conference (August 9-11, 2014) to my calendar. I hope to see you there, if not before.