Finca Narbona Winery, Carmelo

Sunday, 2 February 2014
About 10 minutes away from the Four Seasons resort is a treasure of a winery with a small restaurant. I would return to Carmelo just to come back to this private, small, breathtakingly beautiful property. There is even a small inn here with just five rooms as well as an outdoor eating area and pool for guests.

Our private tour began with our guide telling us about the name "Finca." He was a French man who started the winery in the 1950s. He was a bit ahead of his time because the wine did not take off as a local commodity so he returned to France. In the 1990s, the Narbona family purchased the rundown winery, renovated it, and replanted grapes here in 1993.

On the property, visitors will see many artifacts from the 1950s. Some are still in working order.

Our guide took us into the brand new, main winery that has a gorgeous tasting room that is not open yet. It will fully open later in 2014 and has space for what I know will be amazing parties. The lighting in the cellar is not great for pictures but the ambiance was fantastic.

There are 20 acres total at the Finca Narbona Winery. They grow olives on four of those acres, fruit trees on four acres, and the rest are for grapes. Grapes are harvested in February and March depending on how advanced the grapes on in their growth cycle. (If you ever get a chance to go to Uruguay, try to plan your trip during the grape or olive harvest season. Some wineries even let visitors participate in the work.)

Many wineries in Uruguay grow a grape called Tannat. It is a fantastic varietal and is well known in this part of the world. It isn't as light as a Pinot Noir but not as heavy as Merlot. The grape comes from Spain and if you ever have a chance to try it, I highly recommend Finca Narbona Tannat, 2010.

Again, we just loved the grounds with the romantic outdoor eating space, framed with vines and staged on a huge old farm table. Our tour next took us to the tasting room in the "old house" and we were blown away by the ambiance and charm. Here's James following the sommelier down into the cellar for our private tasting.

The narrow stairs open up into an intimate tasting room where the wine is stored. 

Our sommelier had a set up of local cheeses and three Finca Narbona wines for us to sample. She walked us through each wine, showing us the proper way to taste it and what to notice about how it touches the tongue.

This was the best part of the tour for me (hard to beat wine tasting, right?) because we were able to get an excellent education on how food impacts what we're drinking and also how different wines can have highly complex tastes that are recognized with a little practice. 

We sampled Narbona Sauvingnon Blanc, Narbona Pinot Noir (2012), and the Tannat Roble (2010). The pinot noir was lovely with a taste of forest fruit such as berries and mint. It was dry on the tongue and we sampled it with local Colonia cheese. The tannat had a more complex scent with a taste of chocolate, and raisin. It was smoky with a touch of acidity. The sommelier explained that if you have a dish such as meat like pork or beef that is a bit fatty, you need a stronger wine to break up the taste of the meat.

I did not want to leave this small, romantic spot but the end of our tour ended with lunch in the small restaurant after a quick stroll through the gardens where they grow herbs and vegetables for the kitchen.

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