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Tannat Grapes

Tannat is a red-wine grape variant belonging to the Basque country, present on the border between France and Spain.

Since Tannat variants grow on the foothills of the mountains like Pyrenees Mountains, which are rough and rugged, the wine produced also tends to give a dark, deep, dry and a rustic flavour and fragrance.

Wine grape varieties

However, the most famous Tannat wine is made to the north of these hills in Madiran.

Tannat History

Many believe that Tannat variant of grape was first grown in the Basque region. From there it moved to Madirinin southwestern France in the 17th from where the production of this wine variant picked up.

Madiran wines were often used by French kings as a payment mode for taxes. In 1870, Basque immigrants brought the Tannat variant along with them to Uruguay, where it got perfectly adapted to the local climate and soil. It has since become the most loved and the national grape variant of Uruguay.

It is so much popular, that it accounts for one third of all the wine produced in Uruguay. And as a result of this, the more Tannat variant of grape is produced in Uruguay, than its native in France.

Tannat Regions

From southern France, where it was grown earlier, Tannat has now moved on and being planted in countries like Argentina, Australia, the California, Oregon and Virginia areas of the United States, Brazil and Puglia region of Italy, where it is used for blending with other wine variants.

The grapes growing in each region differ in terms of texture, flavour and fragrance. The Tannat variants of grapes growing in the Americas are quite different, though subtly, but still noticeable to the ones found in the modern day French vineyards.

Tannat Characteristics

Tannat variants of grapes are direct offsprings of pre-phylloxera cuttings which were taken across the Atlantic in the 19th Century.

As a result of this, Uruguayan Tannat has slightly lower tannin content as compared to its French variant.

Tannat variety is one of the easiest varieties of grapes to grow in the vineyards. It gives an even better produce when the vines are trellised or head pruned.

And unlike other varietals of red wine grapes like Grenache, this is not prone to overproduction and the farmers need not thin the shoots to cut down on production.

Apart from this, these grapes have a thick skin, making it resistant to botrytis and powdery mildew.

These grapes ripen in the middle of the ripening season and hence they are easier to harvest. The only concern with these grapes is it has thick stems which tend to hang tightly to the berries, making it difficult to de-stem.

Tannat is very tannic thanks to its thick skins and is fermented in open top tanks to give the juice more exposure to the oxygen and make it a little softer.

In France this Cabernet wine is added to Tannat, to make it more approachable and to open it up.

The synonyms for this wine includes -Maidiran, Bordeleza Beltza, Harriague, Moustrou.

Aromas and Flavours of Tannat Wines

Tannat variants of wines are extremely robust wines which tend to produce aromas of smoke and plum.

These wines also contain a significant amount of tannin which tends to give it a wonderful spicy finish.

As far as colours are concerned, the Tannat Wines have a deep, dense purple, red colour with the nose of smoke, tobacco and ripe berries.

This wine gives out the flavours of juicy plum and a raspberry with a generous long finish.

The tannins in this wine are quite impressive and extremely well balanced with intense spice and fruit flavours.

Usually, Tannats are enjoyed young, but those which are aged for three to five years really taste good. The wines which are aged for a decade or so have a great rich taste.

These wines have a high alcohol content which goes against its gentle tarry and stewed red berry aroma. These wines are typically full bodied and are extremely fruity.

Food Pairings for Tannat Wines

As far as food pairings are concerned, Tannat’s smoky character makes it ideal for consumption along with roasted meats and sausages.

It really goes well with items like Piperrada (spicy Basque Ratatouille), marinated lamb skewers and spiced beef sausages with mash.

This wine tastes really good with strong aged cheeses.

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Michael Bredahl

Michael Bredahl

Wine Writer

Michael is an online enthusiast, with a lot of knowledge about online marketing. Traveling around the world to hunt for the perfect wine. Latest on Sicily, where Etna has a huge impact on the taste, which is strong with a bitter aftertaste for the youngest wines, but older wines are fantastic. Drinking wine, and writing about them, are one the passions. Remember to drink responsibly 🙂

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