“It’s old world wine that you find in the new world,” Gretchen Thomas tells us, summarizing Uruguay wine that benefits from aging. Gretchen is the wine & spirits director for the Barteca Restaurant Group, in town for a celebration of Uruguay at the group’s Barcelona Wine Bar in Logan Circle. Most of her favorite selections feature star Tannat—the varietal making up 85% of the South American country’s wine production. Tannat is to Uruguay as Malbec is to Chile, but Tannat is not Malbec. “It’s European in style and masculine with spice, tar and earthiness,” Gretchen says. She adds that it’s the most tannic grape out there.
The next time you sit down to tapas at Barcelona Wine Bar, try Gretchen’s personal favorite, the 2007 Tannat, Bodegas Carrau, Amat ($59). The Carrau family has been making wine since 1752, with origins in Spain. We dined with head winemaker Francisco Carrau (right) at the event Monday. We snapped him with Chef Michael Lucente, CEO Andy Pforzheimer, creative director Sasa Mahr-Batuz and Gretchen. In addition to producing a tasty Tannat, Carrau also takes risks. They produce varietals uncommon to Uruguay, including Italian Nebbiolo and a sparkling wine done in the méthode champenoise. Find it on the Barcelona Wine Bar Menu—2008 Bodegas Carrau, Sust, Brut Nature—for $44.