Uruguay groomed for UK wine stardom

22 May, 2013

New supplier Blends is on a mission to make Uruguay the next big country in the UK wine market by pushing wines from its 200ha vineyard in Maldonaldo into the off-trade.

Blends brings together wines from Argentina, Italy, Uruguay and California under one banner and is forgoing the major retailers to target specialist wine merchants that can hand sell its products.

It is tipping Uruguay for stardom in the wine world and believes its varietals have the potential to excite UK consumers’ palates and boost margins for retailers looking to sell something with an interesting story behind it.

Managing director Gustavo Crespo said: “Uruguay is pretty new to the UK – there is some wine in the market but it’s not easy to find – but we are passionate about it.

“It’s not easy to bring something new to the UK market, but everybody who has tried the wine has been really impressed, and we want to really make Uruguay a known category in the UK.”

Its winery, Bordega Garzon, sits amid rolling hills and olive trees just 18km from the Atlantic coast.

It shares a latitude with cool climate Chile, New Zealand, southern Australia and the Southern Cape.

Its flagship varieties are Tannat and Albarino, and it also produces Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc, Petit Monseng and Viognier.

Consultant winemaker Alberto Antonini said: “The coastal climate and terroir are very similar to Galicia in Spain – this is why we decided to plant Albarino.”

The wines mainly fall into the £8-12 bracket, but some retail at up to £15.

Blends, which has headquarters in London, Napa and Mendoza, is also responsible for Argento, Bodega Vistalba, Dievole and Renwood.

Bibendum distributes its Argento wines, and Blends is negotiating distribution deals for its Uruguayan wines, but for now it urged retailers to contact it directly to find out more about the wines.




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Talking terroir

When Bordeaux was in fashion, it seemed almost logical that we should fetishise winemakers. Here were people responsible for brilliant acts of blending, across large estates and multiple grape varieties, including superstars such as cabernet sauvignon and merlot. These days, fashion has moved on and pinot noir is ascendant. As a result, the star of the winemaker has fallen and we find ourselves following a new star in the sky: terroir.

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