What I love most about being in the wine business is you get to meet some of the most fascinating and thought provoking people in the world. Meeting Pablo Fallabrino from Vinedo de Los Vientos Winery in Uruguay reminded me exactly of why I do what I do. If anyone is capable of launching Uruguay onto the fine wine scene, Pablo is the one to do it. His Alcyone is quite possibly one of the best dessert wines I have ever had in my life! It tastes exactly like Hershey's chocolate kisses!! Pablo is the son of Italian immigrants and he inherited the winery after the passing of his father in 1995. This good natured surfer, Bob Marley loving and philosophy quoting man can best be described as the Randall Graham or Didier Dagueneau of Uruguay. Pablo confessed to me he often goes through the old family wine making logs and books for wine making inspiration. He does not over think the wine making process though, he just runs with his instincts, takes chances and does what naturally comes to him. It's a total zen approach but then again, what else would you expect from a surfing Rastafarian? Pablo runs the winery with his lovely wife, Marianna who is a fabulous chef and operates the winery kitchen.
Pablo and Marianna's winery is located in Atlantida, about a 30 minute drive from Montevideo. When we visited, he was making repairs to the winery which was damaged a few months earlier by heavy winds, a huge problem in this region and the source of the wineries' name. He was very calm about the whole thing and indicated the doors were just installed the day before while most of the roof was still missing. He took us through the vineyards which were planted with everything from Gewurztraminer, Chardonnay, Tannat and Cabernet Sauvignon. I never thought I would see Gewurztraminer planted next to Cabernet Sauvignon, but hey there is a first time for everything.
I also fell in love with their dog, Escobar. In case you are wondering what is wrong with Escobar, this otherwise healthy 13 year old pup has a basketball sized tumor on his back. Pablo said the tumor is benign but with Escobar's age, it would be too life risking to operate. Escobar is an extremely sweet dog and he definitely runs the show on the property. They have another cute dog named Puccini.
Estival White - an extremely intriguing blend of Gewurztraminer, Chardonnay and Moscato Bianco. Dry but floral with flavors of apricots, peaches and pears. Great wine for Asian or Indian food.
Tannat - very well structured yet drinkable. Reminds me of a hearty Malbec.
Eola Gran Reserva - blend of Tannat and Cabernet Sauvignon is named after the Greek God of the Winds. Dark red plums, with raisins, figs and spice.
Angel's Cuvee Blanc de Bianco - soft blend of Chardonnay, Viognier and Trebbiano. Ripe pears, peaches and slight jasmine floral note.
Angel's Cuvee Ripasso Tannat - Pablo and his team go through the vineyards and twist 8 rows worth of Tannat grapes bunches one by one in order to turn them into raisins. The Ripasso process is often used in the Veneto region of Italy where the pressed skins of Amarone wines are added to regular Valpolicella in order to add a slight raisiny, baby Amarone like character. Here the method helps tame Tannat's excessive richness. Flavors of figs, chocolate, star anise and spice.
Alcyone Dessert Wine - Pablo combines a method used to make Barolo Chinato, an aromatized wine with the method used to make Marsala. Tastes exactly like Hershey's Chocolate kisses. Quite possibly one of the best dessert wines I have ever had.
Pablo's wines are brought into the US by T. Edward Wines and are distributed in Chicago by Pure Wine Company. I was able to locate the Tannat at Binny's for $16. Of course, I am already working on getting my hands on some Alcyone!