The Marichal family have been making wines in Canelones, Uruguay, for over 70 years, but since third generation winemaker, Juan Andres, came home from studying winemaking in Mendoza, their wines have transformed into some of the finest of the country. Their portfolio not only boasts a great Tannat (Uruguay’s emblematic grape) but also very good Pinot Noirs and a gorgeous still wine of Blanc de Noir blush with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. We chat to Juan Andres over a few glasses and a nice picada...
What is the main difference in wines and winemaking between Argentina and Uruguay?
There is a big difference in the size of wineries and how they are managed. In Uruguay we have more family companies with families that actually all work in the winery and share the business. Not just in Argentina, but in the world this is becoming less and less common. The vineyard management here is also a bigger challenge: we have to manage many natural conditions. There is also a big difference in the style of wines – each family has unique wines and terroir is very important.
What are the characteristics of the famed Uruguayan Tannat and how do you enjoy it best?
Tannat is a very strong and concentrated wine with firm tannins. We have the opportunity to show its very different characteristics – from very fruity to extremely complex. I like all of them! And, of course, I like to drink my Tannat with Uruguayan beef!
What’s hot in Uruguayan wine right now?
Tannat is not really hot at the moment, because most people know about it. But the blends with tannat and other varietals are having great success. It’s a good access into the world of tannat. I think the best thing at the moment is winemakers’ open minds to blending.
If you couldn’t drink your own (or any other Uruguayan) wines, what would you drink?
I’d like to drink all my winemaking friends’ wine around the world! I love Argentine Malbec, German Reisling, Syrah from Australia, Pinot Noirs from the US and sparkling wines from Brazil!
If you could have superpowers, what would you do?
I would like to make a peaceful world where people can enjoy the real values of life. I’d ask for no more wars, just that people can enjoy wine with their family!
Juan Andres is the head winemaker of his family’s small winery, Bodega Marichal, in Canelones, Uruguay. For more info visit www.marichalwines.com
Amanda Barnes is a British journalist living in Mendoza and travelling to all the neighbouring wine regions to enjoy as many different wines as possible.
Amanda Barnes is a British journalist living in Mendoza, but currently enjoying lots of tannat and unusual white wines by the beach in Uruguay!