Juanicó is Uruguay's largest wine company, owning about 240 hectares of vineyards. The modern company is very much the product of Juan Carlos Deicas, still on the board in his 80s, who founded it in 1979. He earned his living as a banker and tax adviser, and still runs a bus company. His son Fernando Deicas now runs the wine company. He is exceptionally bright and, having trained as a chemical engineer, is au fait with all the latest technical knowledge and equipment, and is a very good taster. For a managing director he has an astonishing grip of detail on all the wines and how they are made. He has recently been joined by his son Santiago Deicas, a trained winem>aker, who already has a very good palate for one so young.
Fernando brought French specialists to Juanicó, and he travelled throughout France and Italy on a study tour before planting grapes in the early 1980s.Recently Patrick Ducorneau was hired as a consultant for his expertise in tannat.
Most of their vineyards surround the property in Canelones, situated about 40 minutes north-west of the capital Montevideo. The main challenge in Uruguay is dealing with the high humidity from about 1100mm of rainfall (a vine needs about 700mm, as opposed to Santiago's 450mm and Mendoza's 200mm). Well-drained soils like the clay-limestone around the property called vertisol help, as does open canopies. The lyre system devised by Alain Carbonneau from Montpellier University is much used. Tannat is quite rot resistant which is why it is still abundant in Uruguay.
About 12 grape varieties are grown including chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, cabernet sauvignon, merlot, petit verdot, cabernet franc and marselan.
Marselan is a lesser-known variety. It's a cross between cabernet sauvignon and grenache made by Paul Truel in 1961 at INRA Montpellier. It has big bunches but small berries and has good resistance to disease. They have planted some in the new exciting Garzón region in the far east of the coast, an hour or so north of Punte de L'Este. Here there are considerable, slopes and free draining granite hillsides and a maximum average temperature in the hottest month of of about 27ºC. Its producing elegant, harmonious well-balanced wines.
The entry and medium0level wines are labelled as Juanicó, while Familia Deicas is used for the top wines. Their premium wine Gran Bodegón shows the potential of Uruguay to make fine wine.