As a baby boomer, do you remember all the way back to “fine” wines like Mateus, from Portugal! Remember that great bottle? Well, we’re not sure about Mateus any more, but Florence and Mike Lince, the baby boomer adventurers who move to a new country every six months, have found a more than ample replacement. Several, in fact!
Today we are well aware that when one hears the term fine wine, Uruguay is not the first country that comes to mind. In fact, Uruguay might not show up on anyone’s list of wine countries. And that is unfortunate, because a highlight of our stay in Montevideo was a visit to the Juanicó Winery.
At the Montevideo train station we boarded a vintage passenger train. A thirty-minute ride north brought us to the village of Juanicó. We walked a short distance to the beautiful grounds of Chateau Juanicó where we were greeted by Marcela, our winery hostess. Our tour of the grounds included the vineyards, the historic buildings, and the modern factory with sleek stainless steel fermentation tanks. We also descended into the underground cellar excavated in 1830 by the original land owner, Don Francisco Juanicó. This wine cellar is now stacked high with oak aging barrels which enables the slow aging process critical to producing fine wines.
The Deicas Family took over full ownership and operations in 1979. Fernando Deicas had a vision inspired by thenoble wines of Europe; it was to bring local wines to the world stage. He conducted soil studies which revealed similarities with the Bordeaux region of France, and he knew the climates of France and Uruguay are similar.
In the 1980s Deicas traveled to France and Italy to study the production of the finest wines. In 1992, Juanicó produced its first grand cru wine, a designation for a prestige growing region. In 1996, the Don Pascual label was launched following a gold medal award at the prestigious Bacchus de España international wine competition. The Don Pascual label is a tribute to the French Basque who first introduced the Tannat grape. Within five years Don Pascual became the bestselling brand in Uruguay, a distinction it still holds today. It is also the best-selling Uruguayan wine in the world.
Our winery tour saved the best for last, which of course was the tasting. First up was the Tannat, the gold medal varietal. We also sampled red and white varietals, oak-aged wines, blends, and an amazing late harvest dessert wine. The final tasting was their limited edition Port. You do not have to be a Port lover or wine connoisseur to appreciate the quality of this one.
Mike, who used to work in the wine industry, has sampled wines from around the world. Florence is not a wine drinker per se. However, we both recognize quality when we taste it, and the wines of Juanicó have set a standard by which we measure fine wines from anywhere in the world.
Keep up with the adventures of Florence and Mike online.
Category: Travel & Leisure