More often than not, I’m away from my California home during the so-called “holiday season,” when turkey is on the table and packages accumulate beneath a wilting conifer on so many living room floors, and I’m OK with that. While many if not most people in the United States are enjoying a four-day mini-holiday, I’m spending the same weekend working my way through hotels, restaurants, bars, museums and other services in the Uruguayan cities of Colonia del Sacramento (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) and Montevideo.
Eventually, most of this material will end up in the next edition of Moon Buenos Aires, which isn’t quite due for an update yet, but it will also see the light of day in a separate Argentina project on which I am working at the moment. The fact that I’m working, though, doesn’t mean it can’t be relaxing and rewarding, as it was last night when I attended a small wine tasting at La Vinería de Colonia (pictured above).
I’ve visited quite a few Uruguayan wineries, most of them in the vicinity of Montevideo, and several times on this blog I’ve spoken of the country’s underrated wines. Bodega Bernardi is the only one easy-to-visit winery in the vicinity of Colonia, but La Vinería stocks a diversity of Uruguayan and imported wines, with daily afternoon and evening tastings in typical quarters in the colonial Barrio Histórico. I arrived too late for the afternoon tasting but, around 7 p.m., I got there just in time to join the evening event with a couple from Los Angeles on the secluded patio.
The festivities started with an unusual choice: Bodega Marichal’s blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir (pictured above) isn’t a rosé, but its unusual copper color really stands out. I’m personally not a Chardonnay lover, but I found it interesting for a one-time sample that others might find appealing as an aperitif. As I finished that glass, co-owner Carolina Rosberg brought a platter of cold cuts, fruit and cheeses – Colonia is part of an important dairy zone – to complement my following glass of Deicas Pinot Noir which, as she pointed out, is more acidic than comparable Argentine wines because the climate and terroir are so different here.
The evening’s final sample was a dark red Tannat from Bodega El Legado, a tiny winery near Carmelo that produces only 2,000 bottles per annum on less than a hectare of vines. Accompanying it were two succulent lamb empanadas and, by the time I finished those, I decided I had consumed enough wine and food to forgo any possible Thanksgiving dinner. I spent a little more time walking the Barrio Histórico’s cobbled streets before returning to my hotel and sleeping soundly through the night.