I was excited to try these two Uruguayan wines, produced by Bodegas Carrau. Whilst I have previously enjoyed several Tannats from the country, I have been keen to explore them further and my experience of Petit Manseng extends only to its contribution in French blends so it was interesting to experience a varietal example from an entirely different location. Break the bread and pour the wine…
The Carrau family initially planted vines near Barcelona in 1752 and made the move to Uruguay in 1930, establishing the Santa Rosa winery. They acquired their first vineyard in Las Violetas, roughly 40km north of the capital, Montevideo. Interestingly, they are credited with introducing the traditional method of sparkling wine production to the country at this time. It was in 1976 that Bodegas Carrau was launched with the aim of bringing Uruguayan wine to the international market, focusing on the re-invention of classic European grapes. They also acquired the Colón winery in the capital, initially built in 1887, to further expand their operation and raise the profile of their country’s wines. Tannat is their flagship wine but they produce an array of varietals, including Nebbiolo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Chardonnay, Petit Manseng, Marzemino and Merlot.
Petit Manseng Tradicion 2018
The grapes are hand harvested and aged in French oak for 10 months.
The wine has an attractive pale gold appearance and a medium intensity nose, filled with notes of honey, white melon, elderflower, peach, apricot and banana. It immediately strikes me as a sunshine smell.
In the mouth, it is full bodied (not surprising, given its 14.5% strength) with a supple, unctuous mouthfeel and a generous finish. The same stone and tropical fruits are present but there are also notes of bruised red apple and ginger. It’s off dry and luscious but there is just about enough acidity present to provide balance and structure
I like this wine a lot. It immediately presents itself as originating from the Southern Hemisphere. It tastes and smells warm but the fruit isn’t at the mercy of the alcohol and it’s not flabby or overripe. Well chilled, it is perfectly enjoyable on its own. However, it struck me as being a good partner for blue cheese and luckily I had some in the fridge so I tested that theory with great results, serving it less chilled.
Tannat ‘Las Violetas’ 2018
The grapes are also hand harvested and aged in French oak for 18 months.
This has a medium ruby appearance and a medium plus intensity nose with notes of sweet red cherry, strawberry, violets, cedar and black pepper.
In the mouth, it is medium plus bodied with bright acidity and a medium finish. There is quite a primary fruit profile to this. It’s approachable with the same mix of fruit as on the nose but also raspberry, blackberry, a hint of vanilla, a touch of sourness and a vein of minerality. It’s surprisingly rather quaffable and fresh compared to its heavy, dark, French cousin. I assume it’s been grown at a fairly high altitude. I think it would work wonders with gamey dishes and even a balmy barbecue.
It was very interesting to sample some more Uruguayan wine as its presence in the UK is still comparitively scarce. I was impressed by the Petit Manseng’s complexity and surprised by the Tannat’s delicacy, given its reputation for being quite austere. I’m beginning to realise that this country needs far more attention (in the UK at least). I must go in search of further delights from this fascinating place!
These wines are available from Fine Wines Direct (Cardiff):
Also see: http://www.bodegascarrau.com