In Uruguay: Bodega Bouza
Bouza is based in the Montevideo wine region in Uruguay. I was hosted by Manuel Bouza, and Dr Eduardo Boido (chief winemaker and partner).
This project dates back to 2000, when the Bouza family bought an old winery that was built in 1942, and renovated it. As well as sourcing grapes from the estate vineyard, they also have vineyards in Canelones.
Bouza are responsible for bringing Albariño to Uruguay. ‘When my parents and I started the project, we started thinking about the varieties that we should plant,’ says Manuel Bouza. ‘We thought of Albariño becaue of the weather, and because of our Galician heritage.’ In 2001 they planted the first hectare of Albarino in south America using vines sourced from France – they had to buy from a nursery in France because the Spanish nurseries wouldn’t provide any plants. Their first wine from this variety was made in 2004. ‘I believe it might become Uruguay’s iconic white grape,’ says Bouza. It’s well adapted to the often damp climate. ‘In the worst year we had, we don’t need to discard any Albarino because it works so well here.’
Tannat is another mainstay, and it works in Uruguay particularly well. ‘Tannat makes sense because of our terroir and because of our culture,’ says Bouza. ‘We eat lots of meat. It grown really well in Uruguay. There has been a big evolution, and wineries are starting to make more approachable Tannats.’
Viticulture is thoughtful and Eduardo Boido has lowered the fruit wire on the estate vineyards (this adds some warmth) and has imported stones to put them in the vine row (this also reflects warmth into the canopy). In terms of canopy size, 1.8 m of foliage per kg of grape is the equation, but Boido says he needs a little more for Tannat.
The winery is well set up for oenotourism, and hosts a classic car collection in the tasting room.
Bouza Albariño 2019 Uruguay
Two vinifications: one pressed directly and fermented in tank. The other is crushed, macerated for 4 h at low temperature and then pressed. Most fermented in tank, 15% in barrel with lees contact. This has lovely presence: nice brightness with citrus and pear, as well as some subtle apricot richness. Has a lovely citrus core with a slight salinity. Really fine and expressive. A serious effort. 93/100 (780 Pesos in Uruguay, £25 in the UK)
Bouza Riesling 2018 Pan de Azucar
14% alcohol. From a vineyard in the south east of the country. Tank fermented, then kept for a year in bottle. Intense and citrussy with nice richness and a crystalline texture. Very fine and detailed with good acidity and lovely taut fruit, but everything here is harmonious: there’s a completeness and balance to the wine. Just a very subtle petrol edge. Lovely wine. 92/100
Semillon is fermented with two yeasts: first a non-saccharomyces (Hanseniospora) and then S. cerevisiae, sequentially.
Bouza Semillon Viñedo Canelón Chico 2019
This is from Eduardo’s family vineyard which Bouza have bought and renovated. Fermented In barrel. It’s fresh (12% alcohol) and intense with a slight creamy edge to the bright lemony fruit. Vivid and laser sharp with interesting grapefruit brightness on the finish. Could age nicely. High acidity. 90/100
Bouza Chardonnay 2018 Uruguay
Grapes from Montivideo and Canelones. Press then settle and goes to barrel for fermentation, and the amount of malolactic fermentation depends on the year. This is 50% malolactic because it was a very warm summer. This is rich, toasty and quite buttery with sweet citrus and pear fruit. Very seductive with sweet fruit and the buttery notes giving massive approachability. Has lovely fruitiness and also quite a bit of freshness, with some mango on the finish. 89/100
Bouza Chardonnay 2019 Uruguay
12.5% alcohol. From Canelones and Montevideo. Direct pressed, 50% fermented and matured in stainless steel, 50% in barrel. This is fresh and fruit driven with mandarin, orange peel and pear notes, as well as a bit of spiciness. A fruit-driven style with purity and subtle bitter pithy notes on the finish, as well as notes of table grape and aniseed. Good concentration. 89/100
Bouza Pinot Noir 2018 Pan de Azucar
Decomposed granite soils from old formations. Close to the Atlantic Ocean. Have a thermal wind in the summer, where the land warms and cold wind is drawn in every afternoon. This has a ripe cherry and plum fruit core with nice supple, sweet fruit combined with a touch of sour cherry and spice on the finish. Very stylish with nice fruit. 90/100
Bouza Parcela Unica Tempranillo B16 2017 Montevideo
All the vinification is plot by plot, half a hectare at a time. Some of the best plots are now bottled separately. 13% alcohol. American oak. There’s a bit of tar and coffee here from the oak, as well as supple, elegant black cherry and plum fruit. It’s ripe, but also fresh with nice tarry darkness, and a slight saltiness on the finish. Works really well. Dark and savoury and appealing. 92/100
Bouza Parcela Unica Merlot B9 2018 Las Violetas, Canelones
13.5% alcohol. Lots of limestone in the soil here. Fresh, supple and polished with appealing berry fruits. Has some lushness and a touch of vanilla, with some softness to the sweet berry fruits. Has nice freshness and acidity on the finish. Elegant, but has a bit of oak on the finish. 90/100
Bouza Monte Vide Eu 2018 Montevideo, Uruguay
A blend of Tannat, Merlot and Tempranillo. This is a barrel selection for this high-end blend. Does a pre-blend of the Tempranillo and Merlot, and then blends this with the Tannat. This is rich, polished and quite sophisticated with sweet black cherry fruit, some blackberry and warm tar and spice notes. Very lush but still has some freshness. This is a serious effort, offering ripe fruit with appropriate structure. 93/100
Bouza Monte Vide Eu Tannat Merlot Tempranillo 2018 Montevideo, Uruguay
15% alcohol. 45% Tannat, 35% Merlot and 20% Tempranillo. Deeply coloured, this is a very polished, refined, sweetly fruited red. It’s pushing the boundaries on ripeness, with very sweet fruit allied to sophisticated oak, but there’s real appeal here. Sleek, floral and luxurious, with a slight drying finish and some warmth from the alcohol. A wine that should impress many who want the taste of ambition, but pushes ripeness slightly too far for my palate. In this style though, with some chocolate and vanilla richness under the sleek fruit, it’s very well done. 92/100 (UK retail: £39.95 Jeroboams)
Bouza Tannat 2018
16% alcohol. This is bold, rich and ripe with lovely blackberry and black cherry fruit with notes of spice and tar as well as a bit of warmth. A very rich style with nice intensity and a bit of tannin on the finish. This is very ripe and bold, with high alcohol, but it works quite well as it isn’t too ripe. 90/100
Bouza Parcela Única Tannat B28 2017 Las Violetas, Canelones
15% alcohol. This is fresh and intense with nice blackberry and blackcurrant fruit. Has a slight saltiness with nice juiciness as well as some black cherry notes. There’s a brightness despite the high alcohol: it tastes appropriately ripe with good structure. Refined and polished with nice weight. 92/100
Bouza Parcela Unica Tannat B6 2018 Canelones, Uruguay
16% alcohol. This is a bold wine, aged in a mix of French and American oak. It’s complex and rich on the nose with baked spicy black fruits and notes of vanilla and coconut from the oak: tasted blind, I’d call this as a serious Rioja. There’s also a hint of raisin. On the palate, this is warm and sweetly fruited with complex blackberry and black cherry fruit. Rich, warm, spicy and intense, this is a distinctive, rich wine, but it works. 92/100
Bouza Tannat Sin Barrica 2018
Unoaked. Only make it in good years when the Tannat doesn’t need barrels. 16% alcohol. Ripe, sweet and luscious with some meat and spice notes as well as lush blackberry fruit. There’s some mintiness here, too. Ripe and expressive, with some alcohol evident. Has a nice sweetness from the alcohol, and also some subtle bitterness on the finish. Lovely fruit quality here. 91/100
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