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Sunday, June 05, 2011

Trip to Vinos (of Bodegas Carrau)

This has been planned since last year. We thought that we’re running out of things to conquer here on a weekend like we’ve been to Colonia a thousand times and the wintery weather hinders us from visiting Punta del Este. Trip to a vineyard/winery is a good idea. Uruguay is also a wine country and most dinners we had were accompanied by vinos. Needless to say, the problem is that we don’t have much access to where-to’s here. We almost availed of one winery tour that we found on the net but another dear officemate suggested something else. He said that the wine and food are orgasmic.

The 3rd Festival del Tannat y Cordero in Bodegas Carrau satisfied our thirst. It’s a not-so-formal feast of tannat (a type of grape which Uruguay is very good at fermenting) and lamb (they claimed that they are also good with this meat variety, not just with beef), not-so-formal in a sense that it’s almost just nominal. A ticket costs UYU 800 (or roughly PHP 1,800) which we paid at Red Pagos (something like a Bayad Center). According to Ana Laura of Bodegas Carrau, who was very accommodating from our email exchange and in personal, a limit of 80 people was set for the event.

At a little past 11 in the morning, we were already heading to Avenida Gral. Rivera by cab and from there we took Bus 468 heading to La Paz (one-way ticket costs UYU 18 or PHP 41). The winery is located in the outskirts of Montevideo and it took us around 45 minutes to reach the nearest bus stop along Avenida Gral. Garzon (just opposite of Nordex).

We came 20 minutes later than the schedule on the ticket. Good thing that it was still assembly time. A few more minutes passed and it was announced that the mini-tour to the winery was about to take place. It was a guided tour in Spanish and it was a relief to see our dear officemate there to help translate some of the info. We passed by a series of containers for fermentation, then a machine for bottling then down to the old age storage. It’s filled with barrels and only a handful of lamps light the place. In one section, only candles are put up, giving a romantic/creepy atmosphere.

The food and wine festival officially started when we went back to the hall opposite the bodega. A lamb pizza al horno greeted us with a bottomless Reservas Tannat Rosé "Saignée". The main dish was divided into three stations plus the dessert:

Estación 1
• Tacos de cordero
• JUAN CARRAU Cepas Nobles Tannat 2009

Estación 2:
• Kebabs de codero
• JUAN CARRAU Tannat de Reserva 2008

Estación 3:
• Irish Stew
• ARERUNGUÁ Tannat 2002

• Húmedo de chocolate y licor de Tannat
• VIVENT Licor de Tannat 2006

We were reminded that the wine being served has a level of strength. The higher the station you get, the stronger your wine gets. Pretty much we can attest to it. When we were done with the second station, we were already under the wine spell, talky and brave. Talky to a point that we were vocal that we missed the Irish stew, which, we believe, was the gastronomical highlight. And brave to a point that Pao didn’t mind dancing with the gorgeous tango dancer and being a willing interviewee on national TV. He won a prize, by the way, in the raffle.

As for the food other than the stew, everything was mouth-watering. We have to agree that it’s orgasmic. Just a note, too, that they served dessert wines. The difference is that it’s obviously sweet as a candy. Aside from three dashing tango numbers, having a warm chitchat with the Carrau children and the raffle on which they gave out bottles of wine, a lady volunteered to render some aria pieces. That sealed the day. As Pao has put it in a tipsy way, everything is surreal.

The rest of the pics here and some videos here, here and here.

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