Get to Know Tannat
What is it?
Originally from the Madiran region of France, Tannat is a thick skinned grape varietal that produces very full bodied wines with an abundance of firm tannins. Indeed, the name “Tannat” comes from the French word for tannin. It is now more famous in Uruguay where it is the national grape.
Where is it grown?
Uruguay currently has the most Tannat vines by acre in the world. However France is close behind where it grows in the Madiran DOC and around the French Pyrenees. Although it is far from ubiquitous, Tannat also grows in small amounts in Central California, Texas, Italy, Australia and South Africa.
What does it taste like?
In Uruguay there is a slightly lighter and more fruit driven expression of the grape. However, almost everywhere else produces bold, full bodied wines with firm tannins, dark fruit and spice notes such as plum, blackcurrant, black cherry, liquorice, cardamom and leather. The wines usually have a more fruity wine such as Merlot blended in to balance the astringency of the tannins to make it more drinkable.
What does it pair with?
With the high levels of tannin, steak is the obvious choice. However if you wanted to branch out, then we think Tannat pairs well with game, a variety of creamy cheeses or heartier vegan dishes like mushroom stew.
Tannat gets its name from the French word for “tannin” due to the high concentration of the polyphenolic compounds that exist in the grapes. So high are the levels of tannin in the grape that the wines are almost always blended with a fruitier varietal to make them palatable.