Decanter travel guide: Uruguayan coast

For a memorable holiday filled with sun, sand, sea – and Tannat – head to Maldonado, Uruguay’s newest and most exciting wine region along the Atlantic Coast. Patricio Tapia reports in his Uruguayan coast travel guide.

My perfect day on the Uruguayan coast

Morning

Start with a swim. Uruguay’s Atlantic coast can be hot and humid in the summer, from December through late March, and a plunge to begin the day, perhaps at José Ignacio, is the perfect refresher. After you’ve dried off, drive inland to the quaint town of Garzón. Have a stroll and browse the art galleries or enjoy a coffee in the main square. Five minutes’ drive away is Bodegas Garzón. Don’t miss the olive oil tasting and of course try the wines, especially the Albariño.

Lunch

Stay in the town of Garzón for one of the best culinary experiences in Uruguay. The Garzón Hotel & Restaurant (pictured above) (www.restaurantegarzon.com), owned by renowned Argentine chef Francis Mallman and Manuel Mas of the Finca La Anita winery in Mendoza, offers dishes as simple as they are exciting. The octopus is wonderful; so is the lamb.

Afternoon

Take the Ruta 12 road down to the coast to Alto de la Ballena. There you can enjoy the views over a glass of its floral and fruity rosé. Afterwards, head to Punta del Este, 20 minutes’ drive away to take a walk along the waterfront overlooking the Atlantic. At sunset you’re sure to hear applause from tourists and locals alike who come to watch the sun drop into the sea. Don’t leave the sun, sea and sand of Punta del Este before having a drink, or better yet dinner, at La Bourgogne (www.labourgogne.com.uy), a famous restaurant owned by French chef Jean-Paul Bondoux, a bon vivant of the culinary world whose dining room on Avenida del Mar offers French specialties with an Uruguayan touch. The wine list is full of flavours to discover from home as well as abroad.

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