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Column: Wining, Dining, and Enjoying the Flavours of Uruguay and Greece

Getting a taste of the world at the Vancouver International Wine Festival.

One of the joys of the Vancouver International Wine Festival is the opportunity to experience wines you’ve never tried before! And several of the events have the wines partnered with gourmet food showcasing both partners. On the first night of the festival, I attended the Bodega Garzon Uruguay Dinner at Hydra Estiatorio Mediterranean in Vancouver.

Wine lovers in BC are very familiar with South American wines from Chile and Argentina but Uruguay is often unfamiliar. It’s a small nation next to Argentina but it ranks fourth in wine production from that continent.

The iconic wines of Bodega Garzon keeps surprising the world and making Uruguayan history. Their premium wines have been included in the Top 100 Wines of both Wine & Spirits magazine and Wine Spectator.

Throughout the celebratory dinner, Garzon Enologist Mele Sosa and Wine Educator for North America skillfully guided us as her award-winning wines were paired with a sumptuous seven-course Mediterranean dinner prepared by Executive Chef of Hydra, Brad Scharien.

The festivity began with a refreshing Scallop & Watermelon Ceviche with cilantro oil, citrus, and black sesame. It was served with a Garzon Estate Pinot Noir Rosé de Corte 2019 ($20.99). Vinified in a delicate dry Provence style, this pink had notes of strawberry, cherry, and blackberry with freshness and minerality, which was a great beginning to the festive evening ahead!

Then it was Prawn Saganaki Tortellini with warm potato vinaigrette and feta. This was paired with a delicious Garzon Reserva Albarino 2020 ($25.49) that earned 95 points in Decanter Magazine. The Albarino was intense with peach and citrus notes. Sosa called it “a sip of the ocean” with its minerality. There’s also freshness with remarkable acidity and a crisp finish.

Next was an Heirloom Beet & Myzithra Cheese Salad, with a crunchy mushroom-walnut ‘soil’ and micro arugula. Their wonderful flavours and textures were complemented by the Garzon Reserve Tannat 2019 ($25.49). Tannat is the #1 wine of Uruguay. I loved the juicy full-bodied red with its seductive violet aroma and flavours of plum and licorice. Tannats have a reputation of being very tannic but the Garzon had smooth mature tannins, which went wonderfully with the earthy beets, Greek cheese and mushroom-walnut ‘soil’. It finished on a distinctive spicy note.

Course #4 was Ahi Tuna Carpaccio with pickled wild mushrooms, toasted kataifi, and aioli. The tuna was paired with a Garzon Estate Cabernet de Corte 2018 ($20.99), a splendid blend of Cabernet Franc, Tannat, Merlot, and Marselan. Aromas of spices, fresh herbs, raspberries, plums and pepper with flavours of soft black fruits and berries along with a silky texture were so delicious that I bought a case!

Course #5 Braised featured Short Rib Dolmades with cabbage avgolemono, crepine, and sour pasta pearls. To go with it we enjoyed a Garzon Single Vineyard Petit Verdot 2016 ($42.99), a complex red with black fruit and vanilla on the nose, with blackberry, raspberry, blueberry on the palate. A delicious Greek – Uruguayan marriage!

Course #6 was Grilled Lamb Rack with cauliflower skordalia, baby carrots, roasted radish and a wine reduction. We were served a Garzon Balasto 2017 ($102.99), which was awarded 93 points by Wine Spectator. It's a blend of 50 % Tannat, 40% Cabernet Franc, 5% Merlot, and 5% Marselan, fermented in cement tanks and aged 20 months in untoasted French oak. Expect notes of blackberry, cassis and sweet oak on the nose and black fruit and pepper along with forest floor and chewy tannins on the palate. Balasto and lamb, a superb pairing!

Finally, Course #7 was Dark Chocolate Olive Oil Cake with pistachio and meringue. To end the wine and gourmet food extravaganza, we sipped a Garzon Reserva Marselan 2017 ($24.49). Marselan is a cross between Grenache and Cabernet Sauvignon created in France in 1961. A complex bouquet arose out of the glass with red fruits, minerals, mint and eucalyptus. On the palate there were expressive red fruits and minerals with chewy tannins and a long finish. Red wine and dark chocolate! What a way to end a 3½hour gastronomical adventure!

To order any of these Garzon wines by the case from Uruguay’s premium winery, contact Mark Anthony Wines & Spirits at tdong@markanthony.com or 604-264-4043.