Tannat may not enjoy the fame of grape varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon or Malbec, but it is nonetheless a grape variety that deserves recognition.
If you enjoy solid, rather rugged reds, it may make it onto your favourites list.
Here’s our definitive guide to Tannat.
How to pronounce Tannat?
Pretty simple one to pronounce Tan- at is the way it should be pronounced but you can also pronounce it as Tan- ah
Where does it comes from?
Tannat comes from the southwest of France, from the region of Madiran to be more precise.
Today it’s becoming a bit more global but its spread remains timid, apart maybe from South America.
What does it smell like?
Notes of black fruit such as blackberry, blackcurrant, black cherry, but also liquorice, and tobacco are the typical aromas of Tannat in its youth.
As the wine ages, it develops aromas of leather, game, smoke, and cigar box.
What does it taste like?
The colour of Tannat, which is pretty much black says it all… It’s not for the faint hearted – this is a solid grape variety that produces wines with high levels of tannin and a rather high level of acidity with a medium sweetness.
Oak is nearly a must to open the wines, especially for the cooler climate French wines.
These wines have great ageing potential and really become beautiful and more tame and delicate with a few years in bottle.
Tannat food pairing
Ok, here we’re going to need food that is solid and rich.
Forget anything delicate and subtle… What you need is high levels of protein and high levels of fat in your dish.
I would strongly recommend fattier cuts of beef where the taste is much more intense.
You could also go for game which is also a traditional match.
In the South west of France, where I am originally from, we would pair Tannat with duck confit, or goose confit, or wild boar. It isn’t uncommon to pair it with a cassoulet, which is a kind of rich bean, sausage and meat stew.
Where are the best regions for Tannat?
The 2 main regions for Tannat are unarguably Madiran in the South-West of France and Uruguay.
Tannat is growing in popularity in Argentina and also in Brazil mainly, although plantings in Australia, South Africa and some USA regions are also growing.
If you’re looking to try Tannat out I would however definitely recommend going for the more classical regions of South West France and Uruguay where Tannat is a historical planting.
What tastes similar?
Love Tannat? You want to explore more similar grape varieties?
You need grape varieties with high levels of tannin, and of course you could go for Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec or even Bonarda, but I’m going to recommend you give 2 other grape varieties a go.
First is a grape variety from the central Italy region of Umbria. It’s called Sagrantino and it’s wonderful, especially with a bit of age and especially if it comes from Montefalco!
The second isn’t super popular around the world except maybe in the US. It’s Petite Sirah. Nothing in common with Syrah or Shiraz. It’s a grape variety that’s also known as Durif, but it’s mainly recognised as Petite Sirah.
Its solid structure and spicy notes will definitely rock your boat!
What are the best Tannat Wines?
From Madiran, I think that Chateau Bouscassé and Chateau Montus stand out as the cream of the crop.
Alain Brumont who is a bit of a godfather figure for the appellation and has really driven it forward owns them both.
Another favourite is Chateau Berthoumieu and it’s stunning Cuvée Charles de Batz.
In Uruguay, I highly recommend the Rio de los Pajaros Tannat from the Pisano family which is wonderfully approachable without loosing the best of Tannat.
Also a fantastic wine is the Bodegas Garzon’s Reserva Tannat, in a very similar style.
2 thoughts on “What everyone should know about Tannat”
I loved your article and the fact that you mentioned Tannat from Bodega Garzón Uruguay is really an honor! I am the Brand Ambassador USA for them based in Seattle. Thanks kindly and looking forward for future articles!
Have you tried our Albariño?
I have to admit I have never tasted your Albarino! You now have me very intrigued… Will definitely have to taste at the very next opportunity.
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