Sunday, April 5, 2009

Tale of Two Tannats

In the past two nights, I've attended two different dinner parties and been served two different Uruguayan wines. This may not seem like a remarkable coincidence save for the fact that both dinner parties were in suburban New York. (Tannat, a rather tannic red native to Madiran, France is the one grape that Uruguay has grown famous for, but it isn't exactly commonplace in the States.) The first party was a gathering of women, none of whom were particularly wine-savvy or trend-focused and yet... among the wines served was a 2007 Juanico Tannat- Merlot blend, an earthy, soft pleasant wine that retails for about $11 (VOS Selections). The second night was a group of media types hosted by my friend Liz Johnson, the food editor of the Journal News (who is also an amazing cook and whose blog, Small Bites ( is the single best source of information on new restaurants, wine events etc. in the Westchester-Rockland County area of New York At the end of the meal, Liz brought out a bottle of Vinedo de los Vientos Alcyone, a fortified wine made from Tannat (imported by T. Edwards) that she'd bought in her favorite wine shop (Grape Vine) in Tappan. I've never had a wine quite like it before... it tasted like milk chocolate and smelled like essence of vanilla. It was certainly rich and it was definitely intense. Liz had bought it to pair with the lemon-chocolate tart that she'd made. To say that the match worked well would be an understatement. One woman actually swooned- something I haven't seen that happen at a dinner party in some time. And never in suburban New York. Could Cheever Country have turned into Tannat Territory?

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