When you think of the great wine producing countries, Uruguay probably doesn't leap to mind. But buzz has been steadily building around the country's wines, particularly its dominant tannat grape, which is becoming to the country what malbec is to Argentina. This week Edward Deitch at Today speculated that these wines might be "the next big thing," noting that they're "richer" and "more opulent" than French tannats, and praising their "slightly rustic honesty" and charm.
In decades past, Argentina mostly produced high-volume hybrid jug wines, Richard Jennings observed in the Huffington Post last summer. But the South American Free Trade Zone forced it to compete more with its neighbors, and changing government subsidies soon led to more fine wine grapes. Now, producers are using techniques like micro-oxygenation and barrel aging to tame tannat's mighty tannins, making wines that are drinkable sooner. Top vineyards such as Bouza cultivate grapes in areas as small as half a hectare, ensuring quality control and traceability, according to this 2010 AFP piece dubbing Uruguay a "rising star." For some examples to try, with tasting notes, check Deitch's article. (Read more Uruguay stories.)