Uruguay is a young presence on the world scene, despite a tradition of winemaking that stretches back to the second half of the 19th century and quite possibly before that. The local wine scene is increasingly diverse, with a line-up of grapes that is uniquely Uruguayan. No other nation grows Arinarnoa, Barbera, Marselan, Nebbiolo, Sangiovese, Tempranillo and Zinfandel as well as the south-west French grapes Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot and, of course, Tannat.
Uruguay is already making the best wines in its history, but I don’t think we’ve seen anything yet. There are three reasons for this. First, climate change is, by and large, a boon for its wine industry; secondly, Uruguay has a fantastic generation of young winemakers, and thirdly the rest of the world is finally waking up to what’s happening in this small but dynamic country. That will only encourage greater quality.
The 214 wines I tasted for this report were sampled in London in June 2021. All of them were assessed sighted, mostly with the producers in attendance on Zoom calls, although they obviously didn’t influence my conclusions. I hope represents an informed outsider’s take on the best this country has to offer. I’ve also included my now-customary ‘Podium’ highlighting the wines and their winemakers who I think deserve special mention.