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Marichal Uruguay Reserve Pinot Noir/Tannat 2015
By combining this interesting 'Assemblage' with blue cheese and red meats, the perfect match is obtained.
Considered one of the most environmentally sustainable countries in the world, Uruguay is also the fourth largest wine producing country in South America. But in contrast to its neighbors (Chile, Argentina and even Brazil) Uruguay keeps more in step with its European progenitors where land small holdings are most common. Most Uruguayan farms are tiny (averaging only about five hectares) and family-run, many dating back multiple generations. At this size, growers either make small amounts of wine for local consumption or sell grapes to a nearby winery. In all of Uruguay there are close to 3,500 growers but fewer than 300 wineries.
On these small plots of land, manual tending and harvesting, as well as low yields are favored; this small agricultural country has never had a need for large-scale chemical fertilizers or insecticides. Their thriving meat industry also follows the same standards: hormones have been banned since 1968 and today all Uruguayan beef is organic and grass-fed.
Uruguay’s best vineyards are on the Atlantic coast, in Canelones and Maldonado (where cooling breezes lessen humidity) or found hugging its border with Argentina. With a climate similar to Bordeaux and soils clay-rich and calcareous, Uruguay is perfect for Tannat, a thick-skinned, red variety native to Southwest, France. A great Tannat from Uruguay will have no lack of rich red and black fruit, lots of sweet spice and a hefty structure. Sometimes winemakers blend Merlot or Pinot noir with Tannat to soften up its rough edges.
With hundreds of red grape varieties to choose from, winemakers have the freedom to create a virtually endless assortment of blended wines. In many European regions, strict laws are in place determining the set of varieties that may be used, but in the New World, experimentation is permitted and encouraged. Blending can be utilized to enhance balance or create complexity, lending different layers of flavors and aromas. For example, a variety that creates a fruity and full-bodied wine would do well combined with one that is naturally high in acidity and tannins. Sometimes small amounts of a particular variety are added to boost color or aromatics. Blending can take place before or after fermentation, with the latter, more popular option giving more control to the winemaker over the final qualities of the wine.