The Best Tannat Wines to Drink Right Now | Wine Enthusiast
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There’s No Better Time to Try Tannat

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With its high levels of tannin, Tannat—a red grape with origins in southwestern France—was once primarily thought of a blending grape, often joining Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Fer in red blends from the Madiran appellation. In recent years, however, the grape has stepped into the single-varietal spotlight as producers learn to better harness its astringency. It has also taken root in regions far from its ancestral home, from Paso Robles and Oregon to Texas and, perhaps most famously, Uruguay, where it is now considered the national grape. 

Tannat stands out against the heavier wine styles that have dominated in recent years, says Wine Enthusiast Writer-at-Large and California reviewer Matt Kettmann. “There’s just enough of them that a curious wine fan can become a relative expert quickly,” he says. “But then there is a steadily, if slowly, growing slate of new bottlings that will keep that learning experience engaging for years to come.” 

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Uruguay certainly has more than earned its reputation as one of the largest Tannat producers in the world. But volume alone is not what Wine Enthusiast Writer-at-Large Jesica Vargas, who reviews wines from Argentina, Chile, Central America and South Africa, finds most notable. Rather, it’s that Tannat winemaking in Uruguay has achieved a remarkable quality in only a few decades and continues to evolve.

“During the mid-2000s, careful attention to vineyard management and winemaking techniques in the cellar, such as a more balanced use of oak, has resulted in smoother and fresher Tannats,” Vargas explains. “Oaked and unoaked, lean and structured reds, lively rosés and even sparkling wines are being made by a new generation of winemakers who are giving the grape variety a fresh perspective.” 

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Also exciting? Uruguayan Tannat likely has not yet reached its final form. Historically, the regions of Canelones and Montevideo, near the Rio de la Plata, had the highest number of acres under vine. Now, producers are eyeing emerging regions near the Atlantic Ocean, such as Maldonado. Tannat’s boom bodes well for other varietals, too. 

“I find it interesting how the success of Tannat has encouraged winemakers to experiment with other grape varieties—Albariño shows potential,” Vargas says. 

Altogether, it’s a great time to drink Tannat. Here are some top bottle picks from our Tasting Department. 

Allegretto 2019 Ayres Family Reserve Tannat (Paso Robles)

The bottle age is helping this dense wine find a solid expression, as the nose offers subtly integrated aromas of stewed strawberry, baking spice and sumac. The palate is framed by tannins that remain firm enough to wrap around the black currant, pepper and turned-earth flavors. 91 points. — Matt Kettmann

$45 Allegretto Wines

Château Viella 2021 Symbiose Tannat (Madiran)

Rich and bottled without added sulfur, the wine is dense. Black fruits, acidity and a core of firm, young tannins promise aging. Drink this ripe, full-bodied wine from 2026. 90 points. — Roger Voss

$26 Moore Brothers

Crush 2020 Tantalize Tannat (Paso Robles)

Dark in the glass, this wine has a nose with a whopping amount of oak, spicing up the core of cassis. The palate is also all about oak, so will please those who seek that as a dominant flavor. 88 points. — M.K.

$58 Crush Vineyard

Domaine Laougué 2020 Marty Tannat (Madiran)

Bold black fruits and ripe tannins give a wine that has density. The structure is just beginning to soften allowing space for the rich juiciness. Drink this powerful wine from 2026. 92 points. Cellar Selection. — R.V.

$30 Blackpool Matt’s Wine Club

Bouza 2020 Tannat (Canelones)

Earthy, with pronounced toasted oak notes, this Tannat opens with cranberry sauce and leafy aromas. Rich flavors of baking spices are followed by mild berry notes on the sturdy palate. A touch of vanilla marks the finish. Drink now. 88 points. — Jesica Vargas

$25.99 Compass Wines

Marichal 2020 Reserve Collection Tannat (Canelones)

A subtle mix of red fruit, herbs and tobacco perfume the nose. The palate shows intense berry flavors and a light note of peppercorn. Smooth tannins provide support, making the wine approachable. 89 points. — J.V.

$19.99 K&L Wines

MCV 2021 Tannat (Paso Robles)

Winemaker Matt Villard’s focus is Petite Sirah, but he’s got Tannat figured out too. This darkly hued bottling is lush on the nose with black cherry and coffee cream aromas. The palate is loaded with acai and violet flavors atop a silky texture, with peaty bourbon and coffee notes coming through toward the finish. 94 points. — M.K.

$50 MCV Wines

Plaimont 2020 Vignes Préphylloxériques Tannat (Saint-Mont)

The wine is produced from a small vineyard full of gnarled vines planted before the phylloxera virus arrived in the 19th century. The vines survived. This era’s 10th vintage is dense with impressive black fruits with touches of black chocolate flavors in a massive structure. Drink this great wine from 2026. 95 points. Cellar Selection. — R.V.

$95.99 Beverage Warehouse
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