Pisano RPF Family Reserve Tannat 2013

Pisano RPF Tannat Family Reserve 2013, 13.5%

(£19.50-22, The Wine Reserve or globally via WineSearcher)

It was shortly before I headed out to Uruguay that I realised how little I really knew about it.

The learning curve was fast and fascinating. After all, it was one of the first countries in the world to give women the vote, where marijuana is not only legal but state produced, education is free for all and virtually all power comes from renewable sources. (Oh, and by law, 10% of any restaurant’s menu has to be vegan.) It was The Economist‘s Country of the Year in 2013. Pretty progressive, I’m sure you’ll agree…

I made a few mini-vids about it, at the beginning and end of my short trip (as below).

The wines were eye-opening too. The country may have similar levels of sunlight to its South American neighbours but the cooling influence of the Atlantic means these wines are fresh in style, with only moderate alcohol levels. Tannins can be rugged and grippy in the reds, particularly the local speciality Tannat, reminiscent of northern Italy but with a New World intensity of fruit and expression. (And recent improvements in winemaking mean the reds have much more fruit and are better balanced than the mouth-stripping monsters of old.) The whites have good potential too and there is the most amazing diversity within the sweet wines, particularly the sweet Tannats.

I’ll be recommending a few wines but this RPF Tannat was one that stood out for me. The Pisano family are real characters: as Daniel Pisano explains in his typically ebullient style, ‘Burgundy soils, Bordeaux climate, Tuscany atmosphere…unique and personal wines, down-to-earth farmers: all of this is Uruguay!’ Next generation Gabriel Pisano, Daniel’s nephew, also makes the ground-breaking Viña Progreso wines on this site, which are well worth trying (especially his open barrel ferments).

Sometimes I describe Tannat as being like liquid stone. It has a rugged, firm, inscrutable character – not super aromatic but grippy and full-bodied on the palate. This cleverly crafted version has more aromatics than most, with hints of wood smoke, dried meat and ripe dark fruit. On the palate, it has tons of juicy crunchy fruit to offset the firm tannins – it’s refined but also hugely enjoyable. A wine that’s really easy in its own skin and a great example of what this variety can do – including making a great match for food. (7.5/10, Peter, March 2018)

ps if you can’t find this one then Marks & Spencer do the CisPlatino Tannat 2017 by Pisano which is really good too