Today we’re going to look at a red wine that has only started gaining popularity in the last few years: Tannat. Tannat is considered the national grape of Uruguay, where it is grown in abundance. The country's dry climate is ideally suited to this grape, which has proven particularly hardy and resistant to various diseases, pests, and fungus that can devastate more fragile varietals.
Tannat grapes are also grown in France, where the wine originated before being brought to Uruguay in the 19th century. Since being introduced to the New World, Tannat was grown from strength to strength. Not only is it a well-regarded single grape wine in its own right, but it is often used as a blending grape for Pinot Noir and Merlot.
The most prominent flavor notes found in Tannat are of red and black fruits such as plum, raspberry, blackberry, and cherry. Other flavor notes include black liquorice, dark chocolate, cardamom, and sweet spices. Along with the fruity and spicy notes, some Tannats can have a fairly smoky finish.
Along with the fruity flavors, Tannat wines tend to be fairly acidic and almost always have a hefty amount of body.
There are two main styles of Tannat depending on the origin of the wine. Wines produced in France and Uruguay have different characteristics and knowing the difference is important when picking a bottle.
French Tannats have more pronounced red fruit notes and stronger tannins. These wines are best if left to age for a bit.
Uruguayan Tannats have softer tannins, which make them easier to drink. These wines have more prominent black fruit flavors. They are also mellower than their French counterparts.
As it’s pretty bold and punchy, Tannat is a great wine to pair with fatty, rich foods. Accordingly it’s a perfect wine to serve with a BBQ or other grilled meats. Roast meats like beef, lamb, and rabbit also pair very well with this wine. The punchy notes will hold their own against even the most pungent of cheeses so feel free to try it with some Gorgonzola.
Wines to try
Garzón Varietales Tannat ($20)
Fruity and smoky with grippy tannins. Jammy fruits with a salty finish.
Famille Laplace Odé d'Aydie Tannat ($20)
Big and bold with a ripe fruity flavor profile.
Garzón Single Vineyard Tannat ($30)
Intense and bold with strong spicy notes.