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Tannat 101

Montevideo, Uruguay
(4 Days / 3 Nights)

Day 1
Arrive in Montevideo, by air or sea, and transfer into Montevideo along the rambla, the coastal road snaking for twenty-two kilometers along the sandy shores of the Río de la Plata. Check into your all-suites hotel, where each floor is completely dedicated to wine. Rooms are comfortable, contemporary, and simple with separate kitchen space and wine glasses. Set in the shady residential neighborhood of Pocitos, its ideal location is close to the beach, shopping, cafés, and top restaurants.

Explore the capital city of Uruguay on an escorted historical tour with your savvy local guide. Begin in the heart of the capital in the area known as Ciudad Vieja. Start in the imposing Plaza de la Independencia, surrounded by government buildings. Walk through the Puerta de la Ciudadela, one of the original stonewalls of the Spanish fort. Continue your saunter down the pedestrian walkway Sarandí past quaint plazas, attractive 19th-century facades, and churches tolling their bells. It feels so European, bohemian yet chic, aristocratic and conservative. Learn about the city’s history, art, and contemporary society. Make a pit stop to refuel at the best empanadas in the city. Devour a capresse as the locals adore with fresh mozzarella, tomato, and basil in a crunchy, yeasty crust.

Stop near the port of Montevideo for lunch at the Mercado del Puerto dating back to nearly 150 years. A feast for any carnivore, this historic landmark churns out morcilla (blood sausage), chorizo (spicy sausage), and different cuts of meat at lightening speed. Lunch in a classic spot with a keen focus on artisan products, grass fed meat, and fresh seafood. Delicioso!

Drive past the ornate Parliament Palace and through the romantic neighborhood known as “El Prado”. Cruise through the elegant residential areas like Carrasco with its magnificent private residences. Return along La Rambla that curves along the coastline as Montevideanos run, walk their dogs, fish, and drink mate…life as usual in this tranquilo city.

Tonight, dine at a local grill with a Basque flair to the menu. Casual, cozy, yet with top notch service and a great wine list savor the tantalizing appetizers like garlic-laden prawns or crunchy potato croquets followed by, what else? Amazing steak prepared to perfection. (My Suites Montevideo)

Day 2
Get ready for an education in Uruguay’s undiscovered wines. The Atlantic climate and mineral-rich soils are unique from wine-producing cousins Chile & Argentina. The wines are more European in style: less alcohol, tannic, elegant. Such is the case of Uruguay’s signature grape, Tannat, a full body wine with intense color, gripping tannins, and austerity that grows on you.

This morning, drive north of the city into Canelones to Uruguay’s “largest” wineries. Still a hands-on family operation, this family has blazed the trail for Uruguay’s wines to leave on the external market. Visit the vineyards, the century-old cellar, followed by a private tasting of their premium wines.

Next, located only a few kilometers from the banks of the Santa Lucía River, this petit winery focuses on small production, handcrafted wines made from all estate-sourced grapes from their Tannat, Cabernet Franc, Merlot Sauvignon Blanc, and the unusual Sauvignon Gris. Visit the grounds to understand how terroir is their true north in achieving their quality. Sit down to a tasting of their outstanding wines with a platter of local cured meats and artisan cheeses.

End the day with a visit to a boutique winery that’s been making premium wines for over 70 years. The secret to their success? Attention to detail, a love for their land and grapes. Meet the family to understand their unique wine vision by walking the vineyards. Then, be invited into the old casona, family home, for a private Uruguayan-style barbeque with grilled meats and crunchy fresh salads paired with a tasting of the best house wines. Local, authentic, inspiring. (My Suites Montevideo)

Day 3
Head just outside Montevideo to Canelón Chico with soft, rolling hills and lush vegetation. Stop by a small boutique winery going three generations strong. Let the owner & winemaker take you out into the estate to understand better the nuances of wine growing in Uruguay. Back at the bodega, sit down to a tasting of his excellent Brut Nature (a tradition in Uruguayan wineries), and selection of his top Tannat and blends.

Just down the road, visit another small artisan winery making handcrafted Tannat in micro batches. Everything here is a family effort, enthused with their passion of sharing the land and its traditions. Meet the family, learn about their vision, and taste their outstanding line of Tannat and blends.

Drop in on the country’s newest boutique project. The dream of a wine aficionado, here the philosophy is “less is more”: less intervention, less quantity, and maximum quality. Beyond Tannat, they work with Merlot, Tannat, Tempranillo, Albariño and Chardonnay. Sit down to an elegant yet casual lunch featuring dishes like estate lamb, grilled fish, beef, and garden vegetables with a selection of their top wines.

Tonight, take a break from all the meat. With hundreds upon hundreds of miles of coastline in Uruguay, dive into a plethora of seafood at one of Montevideo’s top restaurants in the upscale neighborhood of Punta Carretas. Try some of Uruguay’s lesser known varietals like Sauvignon Blanc, Sauvignon Gris, and sparkling wines with the local chiparones (seared baby squid), abadejo (local white fish), and mussels from José Ignacio. Salud! (My Suites Montevideo)

Day 4
Enjoy a leisurely morning before check out. Journey west towards the coastal town of Atlántida through verdant pastures where cows and sheep roam freely and the soft winds coming off the Río de la Plata provide ventilation for the vines. Arrive at one of Uruguay’s most unique small wineries. The young winemaker “inherited” his winery from his Italian Piedmont family and has fused his passion for Italian and Uruguayan grape varieties. Walk the vineyards, understand their nuances and varietals, and sit down to a private, gourmet luncheon prepared by the chef (his wife!) on their balmy terrace. Sip away on the zingy Gerwurztraminer blend; a silky Malbec, or the exquisite Amarone-style red with grilled meat. For dessert, leave room for the licor de tannat, a fortified dessert wine, not unlike a Masala! Transfer to the international airport for your departing flight.