Cabernet Franc Reserva 2007

Of an intense granate red color. Delicate aroma in which mature red fruits, mint, caramel and vanilla blend. In the mouth it has an velveted entrance and good structure with soft tannins. Lingering finish, with aftertaste of chocolate and tobacco.

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The careful management of the vineyard following the best agricultural practices, along with low yields per plant, made it possible to produce high quality grapes for this wine.

After being hand harvested in small boxes, the grapes were lightly crushed and underwent cold maceration for two days. Fermentation then took place in stainless steel vats at controlled temperatures. The optimum ripeness achieved in the vineyard enabled the wine to be kept in contact with the skins for twenty days once the alcoholic fermentation had finished.

Aging took place in new and second use French oak barrels for 12 months.

It was bottled so as to fully preserve its attributes. Therefore, natural sediments may be found.

Merlot Reserva 2007

Of an intense granate color. Fruity aroma; prunes with vanilla and tobacco notes ariseing from oak that are fully integrated to the fruit.
In the mouth it is rounded and structured. Very pleasant volume. Harmonious and with persistent aftertaste.


The vineyard was managed following carefully best agricultural practicies and yield was below one kilo per plant.
In march the grapes were manually harvested and put in small boxes of 15 kilos.
After two days of cold maceration the grapes were crashed gently and fermented in stainless steel tanks at a controlled temperature and with daily pumping over to reach the intended extraction. The wine then staid for twenty days in contact with the skins.
Aging was done in French oak barrels during 12 months.
To preserve its qualities it was lightly filtered and bottled without stabilizing.

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Tannat Merlot Cabernet Franc 2008

With a lively red colour. It has an elegant aroma of red fruts (strawberries and raspberries) and a touch of vanilla. In the mouth it feels soft and fresh, with mature tanning that provide roundness and equilibrium. Delicate ending, yet persistent.


Each variety was harvested at its optimum maturity stage. Grapes were fermented in stainless steel tanks at a controlled temperature. During fermentation pumping overs were perfomed daily to improve extraction.
The blend was made and after six months it was bottled without stabilization and lightly filtered.

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Tannat Viognier 2008

Of a deep violet red color. Intense and complex aroma, in which red fruits, spices and wild flowers blend, over an elegant base of vanilla
In the mouth it has a soft and pleasant entrance. Good structure and lingering finish.


The vines were managed very carefully and with very low yield, achievieng an excellent contentration of the grapes.
Each variety was manually harvested at its best maturing point, in small 15 kilos boxes.
The Viognier was fermented in new french oak barrels. After two days of cold maceration, the Tannat was fermented in stainless steel tanks under controlled temperature.
After the blend was made, the wine was aged for nine months in new barrels of american and french oak. To preserve its qualities it was lightly filtered and bottled without stabilizing.

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Syrah Reserve 2008

Color rojo granate intenso con tonos violáceos. En el aroma se perciben frutos negros y especias, entre las que destaca la pimienta negra . En boca es un vino suave, texturado, redondo, agradable. Elegante estructura y final persistente en el que vuelven a aparecer los sabores especiados.


We obtained a low grape yield per hectare and thus achieve greater concentration of the grape.
The harvest is done manually and in boxes of 15 kg.
Once in the winery we made a pre fermentation cold maceration for two days, and then during fermentation was maintained at a controlled temperature, so as to preserve the fruit and floral aromas of Syrah.
Then, an aging in French oak barrels for one year until bottling.
Bottled preserving most of their qualities, so you can find natural sediments.

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“One of the most attractive landscapes in the country”

Las siete hectáreas de viñedos de Alto de la Ballena están plantadas en uno de los paisajes más atractivos del país, las laderas de la Sierra de la Ballena, con vista a la laguna del Sauce.

Mucha piedra y aires oceánicos son el entorno de este viñedo con mitad Merlot, el resto Cabernet Franc, Syrah y la emblemática Tannat, además de una pequeña cantidad de Vlognier ‘Nos gusta mucho el Merlot -afirma Alvaro Lorenzo-, propietario junto a su mujer, Paula Pivel del emprenriimiento, y nos está dando excelentes resultados”

Son las primeras experiencias, ya que la plantación comenzó en el año 2001 “Nuestro trabajo agrícola utiliza la técnica de la Producción integrada, un estandar internacional que implica entre otras cosas la minimización del uso de agroquímicos. Además de la alta calidad organoléptica en los vinos queremos que nuestros productos sean ecológinicamente amigables y muy sanos para el consumo humano”, explica Lorenzo a Placer

Paula está totalmente dedicada a la bodega, que vinifica sus vinos en Viñedo de los Vientos. “Este año esperamos empezar a construir la bodega”, cuenta.

Actualmente producen tres vinos: un Merlot/ Cabernet Franc/ Tannat, un Merlot Reserva con crianza en barrica de roble y un tannat / Viognier, original corte Inspirado en los Syrah/ Viognier franceses y australianos.

Los viñedos y la futura bodega propia están a unos 20 kilómetros de Punta del Este, lo cual dará además un perfil turístico muy interesante al emprendimiento, fácilmente accesible por la Ruta 12 que sale de Portezuelo al norte.

Ya en medio del viñedo construyeron un pequeño parador de madera, integrado al entorno.

Este año comenzaron a vender sus vinos en algunos comercios especializados y restoranes de Montevideo y Punta del Este.

Fuente: Revista Placer – Octubre de 2007

One of Uruguay’s most impressive start-up wineries

The grape that is, rightly or wrongly, always associated with Uruguay is Tannat, originally from the Madiran region of southwestern France, near the Pyrenees, and so known to the Basques who came to Uruguay in the nineteenth century and played a major role in starting its wine-making industry.

In 1870 one of them, Pascual Harriague, planted Tannat vines near Salto in the northwest of the country, and in 1876 Francisco Vidiela planted them in Colón, now in Montevideo’s northern suburbs. As early as 1877 Tannat (then called Harriague) was known as the ‘Uruguayan grape’, and in the late twentieth century it became associated with the country’s resurgent wine industry.

Wine-makers have used Tannat as Uruguay’s calling card even more than Chilean winemakers have used Carmene*re, and most visitors to Uruguay will want to try it. In fact it is quite hard to avoid as it’s used a lot, being very productive, ripening late and coping well with frost. It produces large tight bunches of smallish grapes which are easy to pick, an important consideration as harvesting in Uruguay is almost always done by hand (unusually, its leaves begin with three lobes and then develop two more). It produces a full-bodied deep red-black wine that’s fruity and a bit smokey.

However there is a problem. Tannat is known for its very high tannin levels (the name is no coincidence), due to the grape’s thick skin, and on its own Tannat can be just too much for many people. Historically this has happened when the summer has been wet or the grapes have not ripened fully, or when it’s been aged for too long in poor barrels; good management is vital. In France it has always been used mainly as a blending grape, and the rules of the Madiran appellation require Tannat to be blended with Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Fer. It is also blended with Manseng and Courbu Noir, but blending Tannat with Merlot has been particularly successful in giving softer fruitier wines. Tannat’s high acidity allows it to be aged in oak barrels for up to twenty months to soften the tannins and bring out its flavour, and it benefits further from bottle aging (up to 6 years) and decanting before serving. French rosés made with Tannat are allowed to macerate or steep for only a short time to stop the wine becoming too tannic. The technique of micro-oxygenation was introduced in Madiran in 1990, with oxygen being bubbled through fermenting Tannat, to soften the wine’s tannins.

In Uruguay Tannat has been bred to be less acidic and tannic but with higher alcohol levels and more complex fruit tones. Some winemakers blend these modern clones with grapes from the ‘old vines’ descended from the original French cuttings; both types of Tannat are often blended with fruitier grapes such as Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir. Some of these blends work immensely well; in addition fortified and distilled Tannats (like port or brandy) are now appearing and seem to be very successful. With luck, the days of people having to add ice or soda to their Tannat to make it drinkable are over. Indeed, the Financial Times’s wine writer Jancis Robinson chose a 2006 Uruguayan Tannat as one of her thirty choices for Christmas, perhaps because it goes so well with chocolate.
Tannat has now spread from Uruguay to Argentina, Chile, California and Australia; in the last five years most vineyards in Mendoza, Argentina, have taken to adding 5-10% Tannat to their Malbec, an amount that doesn’t have to be shown on the label. In California it’s used in Meritage (or Bordeaux-style) wines and also blended with Cabernet Franc, Sangiovese and Syrah grapes.

Around 25% of Uruguay’s vineyard area is now planted with Tannat, mostly in Canelones and elsewhere in the south; however in recent years it’s been found that it actually does even better in the north, and new vineyards are being established near Salto (where Tannat was first planted in Uruguay) and Rivera.

One of Uruguay’s most impressive start-up wineries is Alto de la Ballena (Ruta 12 km 16.4 Maldonado; tel: (094) 24 0365;, which certainly indicates that Maldonado has a promising future as a wine-making region.

Álvaro Lorenzo and his wife Paula Pivel were high-flying MBAs (he was also a member of Congress from 2004 to 2010) but decided to follow their passion and create a boutique winery. Their research identified southeastern Uruguay as ideal for dry wines, with sea breezes and temperatures of 30° C when it’s 35° or 40° in Canelones and the interior. They planted 8 hectares from 2001 on and began making wine using equipment at other wineries; since 2008 they’ve had their own winery and the results are even better than before. They’re producing 30,000 bottles a year, and aim to increase that to 50,000, exporting 20,000 soon.

Almost half the area is planted with Merlot, with Tannat, Cabernet Franc, and half a hectare each of Syrah and Viognier; they make a unique and very successful Reserva of Tannat (85-90%) and Viognier, and also blend up to 20% Viognier with their Syrah. The spicey, plummy Merlot Reserva is excellent too, spending a year in French oak. The entry level line includes a clean, well balanced Viognier, a Merlot-Cabernet Franc-Tannat blend (with half the Merlot aged in French oak, but still a young wine overall with lots of tannin) and a rosé (60% Cabernet Franc, 40% Tannat, so like a light red wine); they may also add a Cabernet Franc.

Turning south off Ruta 9 at km 127 onto Ruta 12 (from Minas to Maldonado), the vineyard is 16km from the sea, with iron-rich soil of oxidated grey granite with schist and quartz; some of their land is too rocky to plant, but it’s a haven for wildlife (with lots of field flickers) and has great views out across the Laguna del Sauce. Tastings are on a hilltop deck (although a tasting room and restaurant are under consideration), where ninety-minute visits tend to stretch to two hours or more as people relax in hammocks to enjoy the breeze and the siesta.

There’s a fairly lengthy approach along a dirt track to the vineyards and then the hilltop tasting room with stunning. Small groups come mainly from Punta del Este’s hotels, and can buy wines for US$9 a bottle, or US$19 for the reservas (which sell for US$40-50 in Punta’s restaurants); there’s an extra charge for a selection of wonderful cheeses from Nonno Antonio’s.

Bradt Travel Guides, Uruguay Ed. 2010

A really unbeatable context

Los caminos del vino se extienden hasta confines imprevistos. Y ya llegan incluso a… ¡Punta del Este! Así es. Hace diez años, Paula Pivel y Alvaro Lorenzo, una bancaria y un abogado (dirigente del Partido Nacional) montevideanos, comenzaron a darle forma en la sierra de la Ballena, Maldonado, a un cuidado emprendimiento que no tardó en dar frutos: en 2006 tuvieron su primera cosecha y en 2007 presentaron las primeras botellas con la etiqueta Alto de la Ballena.

Sobre la ruta 12, a pocos kilómetros del mar y con el título de la única bodega de Punta del Este , la empresa contempló desde el inicio el aspecto turístico del negocio, aprovechando bien su espectacular ubicación serrana. Así, el matrimonio ideó, además de los viñedos y las instalaciones de la bodega en sí, un deck con vista panorámica para recibir turistas y ofrecerles degustaciones en un contexto realmente imbatible.

Actualmente, Alto de la Ballena se puede visitar con reserva previa. El programa, por 20 dólares, incluye recorrido guiado entre la vid (dos hectáreas sobre una pendiente rocosa) y degustación de cinco variedades, con un Tannat Viognier reserva, como botella insignia del establecimiento. Todo, de la mano de sus propios dueños, que no disimulan entusiasmo por este proyecto de buenos vinos y cambio de vida.

Una opción es acompañar la degustación con quesos producidos muy cerca de Alto de la Ballena, de la marca Nonno Antonio, que hace tiempo tenía su local frente al hotel Conrad, pero que un par de años atrás se mudó al campo , por el camino Lussich.

La nueva casa, una especie de cabaña de madera en el bosque, es ideal para probar in situ gorgonzola, mascarpone, reblochon y petit suisse, entre otras maravillas, no casualmente con vinos de Alto de la Ballena, y con tiramisú de postre. Todo por unos 20 dólares.

La agencia NovoTurismo organiza tours tanto a la bodega como a Nonno Antonio, además de otros poco conocidos puntos ecoturísticos de la zona.

Fuente: La Nación

2007 at Alto de la Ballena

summer at Alto de la Ballena