Bouza Bodega 2007 tannat (Uruguay)

Another WAwineman classic, 1st posted on May 11, 2010:

Bouza Bodega is a 7000 cases/year boutique winery located in Montevideo and was built by Numa Pesquera in 1942, modeled after French chateaux. In 2002, Juan and Elisa Bouza updated the equipment to modern standards to meet their goal of “maximum expression of the fruit in our wine and the adequate concentration for cellaring potential.”

They have two vineyards: Melilla (5 hectares), which is next to the winery and grows perhaps, the only albarino on the continent; and Las Violetas (12 hectares) in Canelones district. The tannat vines grown at Las Violetas are between 16 and 30 years old. They manually harvest the grapes and select berry by berry following de-stemming. Their wines are bottled unfiltered and allowed to rest for 6 to 12 months. They currently have 13 bottlings offered, with eight featuring tannat.

Another fascinating aspect of this winery is they belong to an original group of 13 wineries that have formed a Wine Roads organization that invites grape lovers, culture seekers, and the general public to strategically plan their trips into wine country.

If you haven’t figured all of this out yet, I’ll give you a hint…all this sounds strangely familiar to what the Washington State wine industry looked like years ago. We have about the same population (Washington:Uruguay and Seattle area:Montevideo). A majority of our red wines pair well with a backyard grill session. We have a fairly high standard of living. Our reputation as a growing fine wine state really took off in just the last couple of decades. Uruguay has chosen tannat as its principal grape, and Washington State has chosen…well that remains to be seen, but syrah appears to be the current leader with its varied interpretations of terroir expression, compared to merlot or cabernet sauvignon.

Food pairing was marinated and grilled short ribs from Sumo Teriyaki. One of the rare times I would say that the wine overpowered the meat. A better pairing would have been blackened porterhouse with dark chocolate (84% cacao).

Inky deep purple in the glass, the aromas exude predominant ripe black currant with soft notes of black licorice, dusty earth and crème de cassis. Very heavy in the mouth (high in dry extract). Blackberry espresso going down with steps of dark chocolate, black plum, soft chewy tannins, and a strong grip with some heat.

A 24-hour post-opening tamed the tannins while exposing more dark chocolate, tar, and black cherry flavors, akin more to a heavy-char oaked merlot. Zesty!

100% tannat. Region: Las Violetas, Canelones. Harvested: Feb. 23-24, 2007. Bottled unfiltered: Dec. 11, 2008. 15371 bottles. TA 0.38. pH 3.7. VA 0.4. RS 0.29%. Fermented at 26º Celsius, in 70% concrete tanks and 30% French oak. 15 day maceration with two pumpovers a day. Aged 14 months on its lees in French and American oak.

Alcohol: 15.0%. Music pairing: “La Cumparsita” (“the little parade,” the cultural anthem of Uruguay, originally written by Gerardo Matos Rodriguez in 1917), by Julio Sosa. Rated: 88. Value: $13. Paid: $16. This is WAwineman…uncorked, uneducated but not uncouth.

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