Bodega Marichal of Canelones, Uruguay: Current Releases

Bodega Marichal was one of the first wineries we visited on our recent trip to Uruguay.  Winemaker Juan Andrés showed us the wines and discussed the evolution of Tannat in Uruguay in recent years. His Tannat wines show the incredible progress made in softening this grape’s ferocious tannins by harvesting phenolically ripe fruit and then fermenting shorter times in temperature controlled vessels and aging in oak. We’ve always been very favorably impressed with Juan’s wines; reviews of the latest releases can be found below.

Juan Andrés Marichal

Founded in 1938, Bodega Marichal is a family winery with 50 ha of estate vineyards that is today managed by Juan Andrés and Alejandro Marichal.  Located in Etchevarría, Canelones, close to the Rio de la Plata (see map at bottom), the vineyards receive constant sea breezes and cool evenings that contribute to the freshness of its wines. The soils are calcareous-clay.

Most Tannat wines we know come from the Madiran region of southwest France where Tannat is famous for its robust tannic structure. In Uruguay it has an entirely different, and softer, expression. Its story is not that dissimilar from Argentina’s Malbec, a variety that does better in the New World than the Old World. In addition to the wines reviewed here, the winery also makes sparkling and dessert wines.

Read our Report #57: Tannat and Other Wines of Uruguay for reviews of many other wineries and their fine Tannat and other wines.

US Importer: Global Vineyard Importers

The Wines

Marichal 2019 Sauvignon Blanc Canelones ($16) 91   Effusively fragrant with orange, lemon and beeswax scents that evolve into a richly flavored and softly textured palate.  This is a ripe, hedonistic Sauvignon Blanc with the kind of exciting tension between ripe fruit and bright acid more common to Riesling. Planted on highest part of the vineyard, so it receives the strongest, cool sea breezes.  Pair with food, especially Asian, accordingly. Incredible value!

Marichal 2018 Premium Varietal Tannat  Canelones ($16) 89 A multifaceted bouquet of huckleberry, underbrush and cocoa powder is followed by a soft attack and a fruit forward palate of medium density. This is an easy drinking, fruit forward wine that would pair well with pizza and meat based pasta dishes. Dry but flavorful finish.

Marichal 2015 Tannat A Grand Reserve Canelones ($65) 93  Showing dark plum, black cherry, and a hint of smoky tobacco on the nose, this is a very dense and flavorful wine. The chewy palate is literally packed with black and red fruit.  There’s great structure with solid tannins are coated in sweet fruit, resulting in a wine that’s accessible now but will undoubtedly age and improve in complexity for at least a decade. Reminds us of the spectacular 2009 vintage of this wine. It comes from a 40 year old, single vineyard.  Great effort, Juan!

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