is a red wine grape, historically grown in South West France
in the Madiran AOC and is now one of the most prominent
grapes in Uruguay, where it is considered the "national
It is also grown in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Peru,
and in Italy's Puglia region where it is used as a blending
In the US state of Virginia, there are small experimental
plantings of the vine, and plantings in California have
increased dramatically in the first years of the 21st Century.
produced in Uruguay are usually quite different in character from
Madiran wines, being lighter in body and lower in tannins. It
is also used to make Armagnac and full bodied rosÃ©. In France,
efforts to solve the harsh tannic nature of the grape lead to
the development of the winemaking technique known as micro-oxygenation.
normally found in the Basque-influenced regions of France near
the Pyrénées. The wine is notable for its very high tannin levels
and is often blended with Cabernet
Sauvignon, Cabernet franc
and Fer to soften the astringency and make it more approachable.
In addition to Madiran, Tannat is also produced in Uraguay, Tursan
and BÃ©arn. Modern winemaking in the region has begun to emphasize
the fruit more and utilize oak aging to help soften the tannins.
Now the wines typically spend about 20 months in oak prior to
A French Tannat
is characterized by its firm, tannic structure with raspberry
aromas and the ability to age well. They often have a deep dark
color with high level of alcohol. The rosÃ©s produced in IroulÃ©guy
go through very limited maceration time with the skins in order
to keep the wines from getting too tannic. The resulting wines
are typically full bodied and very fruity. In Bearn both red and
roses are produced from blends that include 60% Tannat and a 40%
mix of Manseng noir, Fer and Courbu noir.
In 1990, Madiran
winemaker Patrick Ducournau experimented with adding controlled
amounts of oxygen aeration into Tannat while fermenting and ended
up developing the modern winemaking process of micro-oxygenation.
vine was introduced to Uruguay by Basque settlers, especially
Pascual Harriague, in the 19th century. Along with the Manseng
vine it quickly started to flourish in its new home. Today it
is often blended with Pinot noir and Merlot and is made in a variety
of styles including those reminiscent of Port and Beaujolais.
From Uruguay the vine spread to Argentina and from there flying
winemakers promoted the grape's resurgence in California at the
end of the 20th century.
of Tannat (also known in Uruguay as Harriague) have been
increasing in Uruguay each year as that country's wine industry
develops. The Tannat wines produced here are characterized by
more elegant and softer tannins and blackberry fruit notes. Vineyards
in Uruguay have begun to distinguish between the "old vines" that
are descendants from the original cuttings brought over from Europe
and the new clones being produced today. The newer vines tend
to produce more powerful wines with higher alcohol levels but
less acidity and complex fruit characteristics. Some wineries
utilize both vines to make blends.
In the late
19th century, University of California-Berkeley agriculture professor
Eugene W. Hilgard imported the Tannat vine from Southwest France
and began to grow it in the University's vineyards. The grape
did not receive much attention until the late 20th century, when
South American varietals of the grape variety began to receive
international acclaim. In the 1990s several plantings began to
appear in California in the Paso Robles and Santa Cruz Mountains
AVAs with such producers as Bonny Doon Vineyard using it in blends
with Cabernet franc and Tablas Creek Vineyard using it in conjunction
with Rhone varietals. Other Californian wine producers began using
it in Meritage blends and also with their Sangiovese and Syrah
wines. Vineyards in Arizona, Oregon and Virginia began importing
cuttings from California. In 2002, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco,
Firearms and Explosives approved Tablas Creek Vineyard's petition
to add Tannat to the list of grape varieties that could be made
into a varietal wine.
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