H. Stagnari 2000 Salto Tannat Viejo ($16.00)
This is a very dark reddish-purple wine, black and dense as velvet in the glass. Plums and blueberries and herbal notes show in a surprisingly complex aroma, with a slight, pleasant whiff of "barnyard." Plummy fruit and lemony acidity appear in balance on the palate, but the primary impact comes from a heavy curtain of smooth tannins, not harsh or scratchy but dominating, a wall of gentle but persistent astringency that surrounds the fruit. In the absence of cellar time, this is a wine that (like its French cousin Madiran) demands decanting with vigorous aeration plus time to open up in the glass, whereupon its tannins don't fade entirely but give way to more open dark fruit and Rhone-like "raw meat." This wine is from Uruguay in South America. Salto is the region and Tannat is the grape; Uruguayan wine labels sometimes style it "Tannat Viejo," simply translating as "old" or maybe "traditional" Tannat. US Importer: Table 31 Imports, Dillon, Colo. (May 4, 2004)
FOOD MATCH: The classic accompaniment to seriously tannic young red wines is rare beef, and just-seared T-bones worked just fine. This is also culturally appropriate, since "Asado" (grilled meat) is as much a part of Uruguayan cookery as it is in Argentina.
WEB LINK: http://www.stagnari.com/
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