On our first full day in Montevideo, we took a wonderful wine tour to a family winery which included a private room lunch with wine pairing. As we got ready for breakfast, we had a nice view out the window of our hotel, overlooking the Montevideo sign we visited yesterday, and the beach just down from that. As it was a weekend, it looked their was a walk/run for charity; I’m guessing breast cancer as it was mostly women and all were dressed in pink. It was definitely a beautiful day for a walk/run.
Before heading out on our tour, we had a buffet breakfast at our hotel, the Hyatt Centric. The buffet spread was large and had a nice selection of hot and cold foods, in addition to juices and coffee.
After breakfast, we met our tour guide Ryan at 10:30am. We were using Ryan for two days of touring; the first day with one other couple, and the second day a private tour with just Steve (DOS) and me. On our tour today we visited Pizzorno, a family owned vineyard about 45 minutes from our hotel.
Our small group of four (plus Ryan shown above in the green shirt) were given a private tour by Fransisco, who is the son of the wineries owner. This family-owned winery has been thru four generations of family owners, and dates back to 1910. Fransisco was such a terrific host, and treated us like part of his family. Here is a picture of us with Fransisco:
Fransisco showed us thru their wine-making facilities, showing us the barrel room with the mixture of barrel types (French and American Oak), explaining the difference. While I knew the French Oak was much more expensive than the American Oak, I wasn’t really sure why. Fransisco explained that the American Oak can be fully used, while the French Oak can only be partially used (i.e. only part of the tree is usable vs the American Oak.) Also he let us feel the two barrel types, where the French Oak is very smooth, while the American Oak is more coarse. Both wines are more suitable for different types of wines, with the French being more suitable for Uruguay Chardonnay, while the American Oak is more suitable for the very tannin Uruguay Tannat varietal.
Fransisco also showed us the Sparkling wine in both the riddling racks, as well as the pre-storage cases where it ferments. He held a bottle up so we could see the sediment from the fermentation, which will eventually be capped and ‘frozen’ off.
While most people would call this Champagne, technically unless it’s from France it’s not ‘Champagne’, although many people use the term interchangeably. Our tour guide Ryan also showed us different stages of the process via his iPad.
Here I’m standing by the large sparkling wine ‘riddling’ racks, so named for the painstaking process of turning each bottle a quarter of a time a day for the méthode champenoise procedure, The méthode champenoise is the way fine sparkling wines and Champagnes are made, which requires a secondary fermentation in the bottle.
We then went to the labeling room, where the labels are done by hand, as the corks done via a small machine. While we’ve been to many wineries, we love going to the family owned smaller wineries where you can feel the love and passion (and work!) that the winemaker and staff put into making their wines.
After we finished the tour with Fransisco, we were treated to a wonderful lunch in their VIP tasting room in the main building. In between courses, Fransisco provided additional information via his white board scribbles, about the difference in wine fermentation procedures. Tannat is the primary grape of Uruguay, which takes its name from tannin, which are the characteristics of red wine. The tannat grape has an extra seed, which makes it more tannin (or tangy) than even a Cabernet Sauvignon.
Our lunch itself was delicious, starting with Empanadas, moving on to smoke salmon, a delicious beef dish, and dessert. And best of all, served with wonderful Pizzorno wines!
After our length lunch, we purchased a couple of bottles of their iconic wine to bring home with us. We thanked Fransisco for being such a wonderful host, and he happily signed our bottles for us.
We had a wonderful day visiting Pizzorno. Muchas Gracias Fransisco!