Tannat’s not the most widely known red grape variety. It’s been around for a long time, but until recently mostly it’s been cropping up in inexpensive blends and not really getting much TLC from the producers.
Luckily for us wine drinkers a few areas in the world have stayed faithful in putting it on the boozing map, and the first one we’re going to talk about this week is South West France.
When you think of South West France, the first thing that’ll pop into your head is probably Bordeaux. Next, maybe the Languedoc. If you like your brandies you’ll know Armagnac is down here too. But there are a couple of areas close to the Pyrenees that are making their way making big bold reds from grapes most people have forgotten are French.
One is an area called Cahors, which makes red blends with a large percentage of Malbec, and some Tannat is used in blends.
Tannat becomes the more important grape in the other area, a bit further south, called Madiran. Usually they’re going to be deeply coloured and high in tannin, both drawn from the thicker skins of the Tannat grape itself. Luckily a decent level of acidity means that the wine will cope with a good period of bottle ageing, so those tannins will calm down over time and develop into some great gamey and vegetal flavours.
The modern style of wine, brought about mostly by imports from the new world, is to drink things young. The guys in Madiran got wind of this and some producers have started to remove stalks before maceration, and using riper grapes (left on the vines for longer). All in all, they’re less tannic, and more fruity.
You can get both styles in the shops. Just check with the fella/lass at your wine shop.
Other posts in NWTW Week 10: