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As wine drinkers around the world have become more curious about lesser-known varieties and regions, wineries successfully producing interesting and delicious wines in underrepresented areas are receiving massive acclaim. One is Bodega Garzón in Uruguay. With a focus on the unique terroir in Maldonado, and a collection of unique varieties, Garzón was named the number four winery in the world by World’s Best Vineyards 2021, Winery of the Year for Descorchados 2020, and New World Winery of the Year by Wine Enthusiast in 2018.
Garzón’s recognition is well deserved. Within the winery, there is a philosophy that great wines are made when a grape variety is able to express itself naturally and authentically. With a focus on terroir, finesse, and energy, Garzón creates incredible wines from over 13 varieties, including Tannat, Albariño, Cabernet Franc, and Marselan. Its flagship wine, Balasto, is a Tannat blend aimed at highlighting what the land of Uruguay can produce.
Just 11 miles from the Atlantic Ocean, in the region of Maldonado, the vineyards of Bodega Garzón sit on incredibly hilly terrain with diverse exposures and microclimates, divided into over 1,000 unique plots. Benefiting from the coastal fog and maritime influence, an array of varieties thrive here.
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Originally brought to Uruguay in the late 1800s by French immigrants, Tannat has found a home in South America—and has become a signature of Garzón. By cold soaking, fermenting in concrete, and planting at high density, the Tannat at Garzón is made into a lighter-bodied, less tannic red, more pliable and softer than its French counterparts. Untoasted oak is used for aging to increase oxygen contact and soften tannin even more.
But Tannat isn’t the only unique variety that has become a Garzón specialty. Garzón is the single largest producer of Albariño in the Americas, and the terroir and climate here are fantastic for Albariño—very similar to its native Galician home. Cabernet Franc and Marselan have also become favorites in Garzón’s vineyards.
The energy of Garzón’s wines is thanks to enologist Alberto Anthonini and winemaker German Bruzzone. Every wine coming from the land of Bodega Garzon is meant to exemplify the beauty and unique character of Uruguay, and their success is evident in their global recognition after just 5 years since the winery opened.
Along with Balasto, Garzón has four other noteworthy wine categories. Petit Clos, is a tiny-production trial to highlight unique plots. Single Vineyard shines light on the diverse plots within the hilly terrain of the winery, with Tannat and Albariño being the star.
Reserva wines are all hand harvested and handled with extreme care—led by Tannat, Albarino, Cabernet Franc. The Marselan is now also gaining global attention, showcasing rich spice and body unseen elsewhere.