This is a sponsored post written by me in conjunction with the #TannatDay event.
Wine samples were provided for this post and this page may contain affiliate links.
I am thrilled to be part of #UruguayWineWeek and, especially ,#TannatDay. I have long admired the grape varietal since I was first introduced to it when the Wine Pairing Weekend crew focused on wines from Uruguay. Back in February 2019 I paired the Bouza 2016 "B6" Tannat with Brined Quail. So, when I received a package of two Tannats from Viña Progreso via Uruguay Wine*, I was excited to learn more about the winemaker and the wines. I also received a bottle of his Viognier, but that will be the topic of another post.
Viña Progreso by Gabriel Pisano
I didn't need to look much farther than Amanda Barnes' South American Wine Guide's IGTV channel
to learn more about Gabriel Pisano and Viña Progreso. Amanda pointed me to her terroir talk with Pisano. IGTV is a new venue for me, but it was definitely an hour well-spent. And what fun that he can be chatting in Canelones, Uruguay; Amanda was interviewing from somewhere with snow (?!?); and I was soaking it all in from the central coast of California. These quotations are excerpted from this episode: here
Born Into a Wine Family
Amanda asked him about being born into a wine family - one of the best known wine families in Uruguay. "When did you know you wanted to be a wine maker? Instead of , say, a soccer player or a tango dancer."
It was just the way I grew up. I was used to walking in the vineyards,
playing in the winery. A big family working together. When I grew up, I always that I knew
that I wanted to be a winemaker. Soccer player, tango dancer, and winemaker? Let’s put tango dancer at the end.
I finished secondary school and went to winemaking school here in Uruguay. Then I traveled to see other realities – always in small wineries – in wine production.
I really enjoyed taking the time to travel. Now that I have a family, I can’t be gone for seven months.
Touched By the Wines
Pisano talked about his inspiration and his drive to create wines that he is proud of. I always liked when people would say to
my family that they like the wines. You feel proud of them. I was a kid and the
people come from all over the world to sit at this same table to taste and enjoy. You can tell when they are touched by the wines that you make.
Pisano talked about his label. Progreso is the place I live and it means progress, in English. I wanted to do different varieties and different
styles of wine. Sparkling Tannat, as an example. It was impossible to do it under the family
umbrella. The only thing in common was myself.
Embracing a Challenge
Amanda prompted him to address why he selects the grapes that he does and to talk about Bodega Experimental. Within the Viña Progreso portfolio, Pisano has two main lines:
Underground and Overground.
Underground focuses on exclusive, unique wines made in small quantities. These are usually made from Tannat such as Sueños de Elisa (Elisa's Dreams), a Tannat made in an open barrel with native yeasts. I'll get to that wine in a moment. The Overground line features lesser-known grape varieties grown in Uruguay, including Sangiovese, Viognier, and more.
I like difficult grapes. It’s a challenge. Overground are the wines I do more regularly. With Underground, that's where I experiement a little bit more...such as Tannat done in a different way.
His Winemaking Strategy
He talked about making gastronomic wines. I try to respect the fruit very much. We are proud of what we do. I always look for balance in the wine. I want wines to eat with. Gastronomic wines.
And it goes back to his Italian heritage. We always eat with a glass of wine. I need my wines to make the food a better experience.
2011 Tannat Viña Progreso
Sueños de Elisa Barrica Abierta
This wine - 2011 Tannat Viña Progreso Sueños de Elisa Barrica Abierta (Elisa's Dreams Open Barrel) - is made in open, new oak barrels with wild yeasts. Pisano embraced this open barrel technique after taking part in a harvest in the region of Priorat, Cataluña. So, that's the Barrica Abierta part. Open Barrel.
And Sueños de Elisa refers to his aunt Elisa who creates the artwork for his Viña Progreso labels. According to the back label, this one represents one of her "most fantastic dreams."
It pours an intensely inky purple. On the nose, this Tannat has ripe red fruits along with some cinnamon and vanilla notes. I also noted a hint of forest floor, such as redwood duff or earthy mushrooms. On the palate, it's just as Pisano described in his perfect wine: it leaves you wanting another glass...and another. It has a nice density and mouthfeel with a beautiful acidity that makes your mouth water.
And I know that not everyone likes sediment in their wines. But I love that this is an unfined, unfiltered wine. Jake and I joke about reading the sediment like reading tea leaves in the bottom of your glass. We swirl it around and ask each other what we see in there. And our imaginations are usually much more active at the end of a good bottle of wine!
Ñoquis de Papa
Whenever you see a country that has colonial roots, you find cuisine that has vestiges of the various streams of immigration. Uruguay is no exception.
As an example, you'll find culinary influences from Spain in the form of empanadas. The Uruguayans have a version that harkens back to its Galician immigrants: Empanadas Gallegas which are pies filled with tuna, onions, and bell peppers. Chorizo is another Spanish specialty and the Choripán, Chimichurri, and the 2018 Viña Progreso Revolution Tannat
that I shared earlier this week is evidence of that tie.
For this post, I drew from the influence of Uruguayans of Italian descent - such as Pisano's family - and made a version of Ñoquis de Papa or Potato Gnocchi. After the Civil War in the late 1800s, Uruguay saw a rise in Italian immigrants and they brought with them their food traditions. Look at the Milenesa, a bread crumb coated beef or chicken cutlet named for the city of Milan. Or the Pizza Por Metro, which literally means pizza by the meter; it's rectangular pizza sold by the length of your portion. In Rome they fold it in half so that it's like a pizza sandwich. I haven't been able to confirm if that's how the Uruguayans eat it.
But I was drawn to the Uruguayan tradition of eating ñoquis on the 29th day of every month. They leave some coins or paper notes under the plate to bring abundance and prosperity in the coming month.
- 2 pounds potatoes (I used some organic red potatoes
- 1 egg, beaten
- 4 ounces all purpose flour + more for rolling
- 1 teaspoon salt (I used the Morada salt from Big Sur Salts) + 1 Tablespoon salt for cooking the ñoquis
- your favorite pasta sauce
- cheese for grating over the top
Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. With a paring knife, poke each potato 8 times. Place potatoes directly to the oven rack and bake until skewer easily pierces the potato, approximately 30 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes.
Mash the potatoes in a large mixing bowl. Using a fork, blend in the egg, flour, and 1 teaspoon salt. Combine until all the flour is incorporated. Press mixture into a rough ball. Transfer to a lightly floured counter. Gently knead until smooth, approximately 1 minute.
Cut dough into eight even pieces. Roll dough into 1/2-inch ropes and slice into 3/4-inch pieces.
To form the ñoquis, press a piece of dough onto the tines of a fork.
Use your thumb to create a dimple in the top of the ñoquis. Roll the dough down the tines to create ñoquis' signature indentations. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
Once your ñoquis are rolled, bring a pot of water to boil.
To cook the ñoquis, bring water to a boil with splash of olive oil and 1 Tablespoon salt. At a low boil, drop the ñoquis into the water and cook until they float, approximately 1 minute.
Using a slotted spoon, scoop out the cooked ñoquis. Drop the cooked ñoquis onto whatever sauce you are using. Toss to coat. Serve immediately with a sprinkling of parmesan cheese.
Stay tuned for more recipes and wine pairings from Uruguay this week. I am excited to share more about the Viognier that Pisano makes. Stay tuned.
*Disclosure: I received sample wines for recipe development, pairing, and generating social media traction. My opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the organizer and sponsors of this event.
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