The making of an icon

When Christian Wylie accepted the role of managing director of Bodega Garzon he knew he was becoming part of something special. “The scale and the vision behind this project are, as far as I know, second to none,” he says.

The making of an icon
Bodega Garzon, Uruguay

Wylie is a well-known winemaker, having studied in both Chile and at UC Davis in California, before working with a number of well-known wineries, including Santa Carolina. But the word ‘winery’ does not do justice to Bodega Garzon, created by Alejandro Bulgerhoni.

Inaugurated in 2016, it’s part of an immense agricultural project that works with the land, not against it. “From a romantic point of view, the vision is of a little Tuscany,” says Wylie. Being hospitable is an important part of the ethos, as is sustainability. The 19,000 m2 winery is not only state-of-theart, but it uses 40 percent less energy than is normal for of a building its size. “Within the building you have the reception, the tourism area, the restaurant, the headquarters, the underground caves,” says Wylie.

Just as in Tuscany, there are groves of olive trees – 1,000 ha of them. But that’s only the beginning: there are windmills to produce clean energy, pecan nuts, pure white honey and cattle. The total property includes a topnotch restaurant, plus beachside frontage and a luxury club with its own PGA Golf Club. “Mr Bulgheroni has created a lifestyle destination,” says Wylie. “People can come here and make wine – they can make their own blends.” He says it’s a magical place, “where you really connect with your sense and you get into a rhythm with nature.”

Wylie says the people who work there are another draw. “People here are so down-toearth, sociable and also very professional in the way they work.”

At the heart of everything, above all, is the wine.

URUGUAY’S FLAGSHIP WINE

Named for the nearby town of Garzon, Wylie says that Bodega Garzon is “twentyfirst century terroir. We have the breeze from the Atlantic and some of the oldest granite on the planet, that’s decomposing and giving minerality and excellent drainage. You have a fantastic combination of Southern Hemisphere sunlight with the Atlantic Ocean influence.”

Wylie says that the many hills and microclimates offer “different exposures to the sun and wind, which allows us to make both fresh and vibrant Albarino, along with very ripe and elegant Cabernet Franc and Tannat.” Bodega Garzon has a portfolio of 17 wines, the flagship of which is Balasto, a blend of handpicked Tannat, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Marselan. Legendary winemaker Alberto Atonini supervises the winemaking, and after fermentation in cement tanks, Balasto is aged in French oak for 20 months, before being bottled unfiltered. The current release, the 2016, offers aromas of fresh red and black fruits and complex spices, with a palate laden with juicy fruit and vibrant tannins.

The wine isn’t just good – it’s outstanding. Which is how it came to debut on the Place de Bordeaux this year, the legendary trading centre for the world’s finest wines.

“When we started, we were making a trial,” says Wylie. “It was an exploration. Now we are sure that the best part is in the future.”

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