Friday, February 8, 2019

Bodega Garzon Tannat with Sausage Stew

What I love about wine is that it’s a never ending learning process and this months Wine Pairing Weekend group takes us to Uruguay to discover these South American wines.  This is actually my first go around at tasting a wine from Uruguay.  It is always tough to not want to judge wines from a particular country once you’ve tried some and make an overall judgment on the quality produced there.  Luckily the wine I’m sharing today from Bodega Garzon left a positive impression, but I have been on the opposite side of the spectrum many years ago with South African wines.  I had tried a couple at a tasting and they were not to my liking at all.  I never tried them again for years until my trip to South African back in about 2012.  I ventured to the wine region of Stellenbosch.  To make a long story short my first impression previously was no longer valid and I’ve really come to appreciate the wines produced in South Africa.  So push yourself to try something new and keep exploring as you may be pleasantly surprised.  Let’s begin to explore Uruguay and all it has to offer. 

The Land 
Uruguay is located in South America and is situated between Argentina and Brazil close to the Adriatic Ocean that provides a cooling breeze over the land.  Their temperate climate is very favorable to winegrowing and is on the same latitude of New Zealand, Australia and South Africa.   What was so interesting to learn about this country is the large influx of Italian immigrants there in the late 19th century to early 20th century.  I've read that about 1/3 to 1/2 of the population is Italian so there is a large influence of the Italian way of life, especially via food and wine.

The Winery 
Bodega Garzon immediately makes taking a trip to Uruguay enticing from the amazing pictures and information they share on their website not only about their winery itself, but the land and attractions of what Uruguay has to offer.  The newly established winery looks like a vacation in and of itself with cooking classes, helicopter rides and a restaurant onsite.  You got me sold!  Plus, it was rated in 2018 by Wine Enthusiast as New World Winery of the Year!
Wines of Bodega Garzon in Uruguay
Copyright of Bodega Gardon
The winery was founded by Alejandro Bulgheroni and their pride lies in operating as a sustainable winery that through its practices produces wines that truly show an expression of the land.  According to their website they are “the first sustainable LEED certified winery (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) outside of North America” which was established by the US Green Building Council.  
wines of uruguay with bodega garzon
Copyright of Bodega Garzon
Bodega Garzon makes sure all their grapes are also hand harvested so the utmost quality grapes are used in their production.  They actually have 1,000 plots of with varying climates, exposures to sun, land orientations and soils.  What’s unique about their soil is that it contains crystalline basement, which dates back to 2500 million years ago.  This soil is further broken down into what they call ballast, which is the weathered rock.  It’s great for drainage, which makes the roots strive for the nutrients they need and it also provides a lot of minerals. 

The Grape 
Tannat is a grape that shines in Uruguay and is the primary grape they are known for.  It’s a grape that originates from the southwestern part of France, specifically Madiran.  Tannat grapes produce wines with great structure, depth that are dark in the glass and filled mostly with black fruits and even some spice.  Between the sagrantino last week and tannat this week I guess my recent wines haven’t been for the light hearted wine lovers.  Plus, as if you needed a reason to drink more wine this grape is known to be higher in antioxidants!     

The Wine 
2016 Bodega Garzon Single Vineyard TannatI enjoyed the 2016 Bodega Garzon Single Vineyard Tannat.  Deep, dark ruby in the glass with an intense nose of mostly black fruits.  A dry wine on the palette full of body and earth with good acid and firm tannins.  Again with black fruits on the palette combined with vanilla notes.  There was a dark, rustic side to this wine that I truly enjoyed.  ABV 14.5% SRP $30 

food and wine pairing with Uruguay tannat
The Pairing: Since food from Uruguay is very much focused on meat I felt that the tannat would pair best with a sausage stew I recently made.  It’s simple as anything to prepare and flavorful to warm up these cold winter nights in New England.  Combined with diced tomatoes, spinach and tortellini I combined these ingredients with the sausage dashed with some oregano, salt, pepper and garlic.  The sausage seemed to be a natural pairing with the tannat and I can imagine many other meats and BBQ would as well. 

Have any of my readers been to Uruguay?  I unfortunately have yet to venture to South America, but it’s on my list of places to visit.  

Join the rest of my fellow food and wine bloggers as they share their amazing pairings of Uruguay wines with food.  If you catch us in time we’ll be chatting live on Twitter this Saturday February 9th at 11am EST at #WinePW.  

*These wines were provided as samples, but opinions are always my own.

Friday, February 1, 2019

Lawyers to Winemaking with Antonelli San Marco

Our Italian Food, Wine & Travel group is exploring Umbria and its powerhouse sagrantino grape.  Outside of the well known red grapes of Italy, I long have appreciated this grape along with aglianico I shared last week.  Anytime there is an opportunity to talk about these wonderful wines and try some I’m all about it.  In the past I wrote a comprehensive guide to sagrantino that you can reference as well as some other blogs about sagrantino and Montefalco where it originates.  Today I share sagrantino from the Antonelli family in Montefalco. 

The Winery 
The Antonelli family has owned the estate since 1881 and currently live in Rome, but are originally from Umbria in the town of Spoleto.  Many of the Antonelli family members are lawyers that invested in the winery and management of the estate.  It’s funny how many folks I have met in the industry that started as lawyers and got pulled into the industry.  It’s a career path that leads one to drink I guess. 
Filippo Antonelli has been involved with the winery since 1986 as well as managing another estate, Castello di Torre in Pietra.  He served as President of the Consorzio Tutela Vini Montefalco for 10 years ending in 2006.  Even though sagrantino can be a powerful grape their aim is to be able to provide drinkable wines that show elegance via using moderate wood aging and gentle extraction.  Plus, they are also now producing certified organic wines as of 2012 starting with their Grechetto Colli Martani.  The winery mostly produces sangiovese, sagrantino, montepulciano, merlot and cabernet sauvignon for red grapes.  For white grapes their focus is on grechetto and trebbiano spoletino.   

The Land 
Sagrantino is a grape indigenous to the area of Montefalco in Umbria.  Montefalco is a town that lies just south of Assisi and is situated amongst many hills.  Umbria is the only land locked region of Italy located in central Italy.  It always amazes me how many people flock to Tuscany when within a short distance you can be in Umbria and avoid many of the overwhelming crowds and still get that Italian charm.  I’ve been to a number of towns in this region including Assisi, Orvieto and Perugia to name a few.  If you’re a fan of chocolates, Perugia is a must visit. 
Orvieto Umbria
Views from Orvieto
Perugina Baci factory Perugia
The largest Perugina Baci in the world
The Grape 
Sagrantino is a grape not for the light wine hearted.  The rich tannins, full body and structure, big flavors and acidity in this wine make it a wine best suitable for long term aging.  At least for me these are some of the wines I love the most.  There are typically so many characteristics and components that evolve in the glass.  It’s amazing how this wine even tastes 24 hours after it has been opened because of its structure.  This wine stands up for itself to many of the other big players of Italy, but like many is not highly marketed nor understood so falls under the radar for many.  That’s why I’m here! 
If you’re drinking a sagrantino di montefalco it is produced 100% from sagrantino by law.  It also must age at least 2.5 years before it’s released to the market, but again this ideally isn’t a wine you’re going to drink in its youth.   

The Wine 
2009 Antonelli Montefalco Sagrantino2009 Antonelli San Marco Montefalco Sagrantino: Produced from 100% sagrantino these sagrantino grapes are handpicked.  It’s aged lightly in toasted barrels for 6 months, plus an additional 12 months in oak, then on to being refined in cement for 3 months and finally in the bottle for 12 months.  A lengthy process for sure demanding a higher price point than your average bottle, but at the same time much more affordable than the big and bold barolo and barbaresco.  For a 10 year old wine this wine was drinking well now, but still had some aging potential to it.  Ruby red in color with a tinge of garnet on the rim.  This wine was full-bodied and structured with a gorgeous floral nose of rich, ripe fruit reds.  Plenty of vanilla, red fruits with a hint of licorice.  A rustic wine with gripping tannin, but finished with a lengthy elegance.  SRP $28-30 ABV 15%

This month, our group of bloggers have been wrestling with Sagrantino, take a look at their posts below. This Saturday Feb. 2, our posts will all be live and we’ll be chatting about our discoveries. Join us on Twitter at 10am CST at #ItalianFWT, we'd love to hear your thoughts and experiences with Sagrantino! Take a look at all the great ideas our group will be posting:

*This wines was provided as a sample, but opinions are my own.