Posted by: tomciocco | February 21, 2011

URUGUAY I WANT TO KNOW

When it comes to wine in South America, Argentina gets almost all of the attention. But it’s no wonder considering that so  many vineyards there are cultivated  in the clear, dry, and sunny pre-Andean high hills and plateaus backed by those eponymous jagged, snow-topped mountains. But while many parts of Uruguay are quite lovely, including the maritime Canelones region from whence this post’s wine comes, it’s not Mendoza.

But at least today, Jen and I are drinking and eating here in Jersey City, and not on some southern hemispere jag, but that said,  it is often these sort of aesthetic ancillaries that give one region a nose of an advantage over another in the marketplace. This wine diplomatically represents somewhat of a theoretical midpoint between these two rival countries. Made of course in Uruguay with 50% Tannat, Uruguay’s signature grape, the other half of the bottle is occupied by none other than Argentina’s signature grape, Malbec. Made by the Pizzorno Winery as a custom blend for what seems like an importer/negociant, the pairing of Tannat and Malbec is a sort of re-uniting of the varieties into a fictive take on the wines of southwest France like Cahors and Madiran.

Nothing fancy on the table tonight: lentil soup with carrots, and herb and spice-rubbed, then grilled pork tenderloin with baby peas.

“C” Tannat/Malbec (Pizzorno), Canelones, Uruguay, 2009

Almost opaque black/purple color. Evolving nose of coal smoke, mulberry, blueberry, raw chooped beef, damp black earth, and brown butter notes. The medium-full body is smooth and juicy but still fresh and well-structured  with scrapey tannins, and flavors of strawberry and pomegranate, black tea, cocoa, and a chalky, salty minerality. Fresh vanilla bean accompanies the pleasantly puckering finish.

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