Tim Atkin MW Uruguay 2020 Report

Tim Atkin MW has released his first report on the wines of Uruguay. In it, he remarks on how far the wines have come since his last visit 21 years ago. “Uruguay is one of the most exciting, up-and-coming wine-producing countries in the world right now”, he concludes.

Family-owned Bodega Garzón was the first winery to plant vineyards in the South Atlantic coastal region of Maldonado and received great recognition throughout this report, both for their wines and their positive influence on the local wine industry. In 2007, consultant winemaker Alberto Antonini was invited by owner Alejandro Bulgheroni to visit the 700-hectare olive grove and, following a full analysis of the soil and microclimates, saw the site’s potential to produce fine wines with a strong sense of place. “Bulgheroni in particular has transformed [the local wine industry’s] image almost single-handedly, and with no little courage”, Atkin acknowledges.

Of the wines tasted, Bodega Garzón’s “world class” Petit Clos ‘Block #212’ Tannat 2018 was the joint top-scoring red with 97 points (we have secured a parcel which arrives in May). Atkin writes, “this wine takes South American Tannat to a new level. Aged entirely in foudres, it's a wine that manages to be both international and distinctively Uruguayan: elegant, violet-scented and layered, with black cherry and blackberry fruit, silky tannins and vibrant, stony acidity.”

The 2019 Pinot Noir Rosé was named ‘Value Rosé of the Year’.  Tim described it as “a modern, direct-pressed pink that's just the ticket if you're planning a visit to the beaches of nearby Punta del Este. Fresh and sappy, with rose petal and watermelon flavours and some pomegranate zip.”

Atkin was also particularly impressed by the quality of Albariño in Uruguay. It was one of the first varieties that Alberto Antonini decided to plant at Garzón, having identified clear similarities between Galicia and Garzón in terms of cooling Atlantic breezes and well-draining granitic soils. Today there are only 58 hectares of Albariño planted in the country, 35 of which are on the Garzón estate. Garzón viticulturalist Eduardo Félix, predicts that “within five years, Albariño will be an iconic grape in Uruguay. It doesn’t need green harvesting or deleafing. You can see that it feels perfectly at home in our Atlantic climate.” The Garzón Reserve Albariño 2019 (91 points) is in stock, while a parcel of the Garzón Single Vineyard Albariño 2019 (93 points) is arriving in May.

The full Tim Atkin MW Best of Uruguay 2020 Special Report can be purchased here.