If you’re looking for a big, bold red that doesn’t hold back on sheer power, look no further than Tannat.
Originally from Southwest France, where it is the main grape in the red wines of Madiran, it has also taken hold in Uruguay. There, producers are so taken with Tannat that it is considered Uruguay’s national grape. In North America, a few quality examples of Tannat can be found in Virginia.
Tannat is characteristically heavy in tannins, which makes it a prime example of ageworthy wine. To soften those tannins, many producers will stream oxygen into fermenting wine, a technique developed in the early 1990s. This and other methods allow vintners to create bottlings that can be enjoyed now.
Familia Deicas 2016 Domaine Castelar Vineyard Tannat (Uruguay); $40, 94 points. Dark berry aromas are gamy and jammy, but calm and impressive. This single-vineyard Tannat from the Progreso district near Montevideo is full, juicy and notably not overweight or hot. Spicy, oak-aided blackberry and cassis flavors finish steady, with slightly jagged tannins. Drink through 2028. Paul Hobbs Selections. –Michael Schachner
Vignobles Brumont 2015 Château Montus (Madiran); $40, 94 points. This powerful wine comes from the spectacular terraces of the Montus vineyard. Concentrated and dense, it offers an impressive array of black-fruit flavors that are solid and focused. The wine needs many years for those tannins to soften a little (they will always be there). Drink from 2023. Regal Wine Imports. –Roger Voss
Cerro Chapeu 2016 Batovi T1 Tannat (Uruguay); $38, 93 points. This block-selection Tannat is a fit heavyweight with a dark ruby color that announces its ribald intent. Ripe, compact aromas of blackberry and cassis are matched by copious oak, while this is high in natural acidity but features smooth tannins. Oaky flavors of coconut cushion saucy blackberry and plum notes, while aforementioned juicy acidity propels wild berry flavors across a long finish. Drink through 2025. MHW, Ltd. –M.S.
Château Peyros 2015 Vieilles Vignes (Madiran); $21, 93 points. This blend of 80% Tannat and 20% Cabernet Franc is dense and boldly structured. Firm tannins dominate the powerful black-fruit flavor, producing a wine that still needs more aging. Drink from 2022. Baron Francois Ltd. Editors’ Choice. –R.V.
Domaine Berthoumieu 2014 Cuvée Charles de Batz (Madiran); $25, 93 points. This is a bold, structured and firm wine, full of dark tannins and ripe fruit. It has power and a dark presence that comes from the dense texture and the dry core that is still a powerful element in the wine. That means that the wine needs to age further. Drink from 2021. Charles Neal Selections. –R.V.
Bouza 2017 Parcela Única B6 Tannat (Canelones); $45, 91 points. Ripe, malty berry aromas are baked and come with notes of Bourbon barrel and raisin. This is rich and sappy in feel, with edgy tannins and fiery intensity that’s to be expected from a 15.5% abv Tannat. Baked berry, heavy oak and malted flavors finish creamy and full. Drink through 2024. Elixir Wine Group. –M.S.
Domaine du Crampilh 2016 L’Originel (Madiran); $20, 91 points. There is real elegance in fourth-generation owners Marie and Bernard Oulie’s wine. The 90% Tannat in the blend is on its best behavior, giving ripe black fruits that dominate the tannins. Its full structure is restrained by acidity and black-plum flavors at the end. Drink from 2021. JP Bourgeois. –R.V.
Effingham Manor 2017 Tannat (Virginia); $39, 91 points. A seductive and sanguine aroma combines ripe black raspberry and black cherry with cocoa and coffee grounds. Spry acidity and crushed velvet tannins form a plush mouthfeel. The palate offers black currant syrup, raspberry compote, cocoa, sweet tobacco and gamy notes. A raisin-like fruit note marks the finish, lingering long on dried plum and savory spice. –Fiona Adams
Arterra 2017 Fauquier County Red Wine Tannat (Virginia); $49, 90 points. A perfumed aroma delivers ripe black plum, Christmas spice and iris. Ripe black fruits are backed by ample baking spice and mouthpuckering tannins on this extracted medium-bodied red. Tannins turn spicy on the finish, bringing some cocoa and peppercorn to the party. The acidity is lilting, and the wine is ultimately incredibly rich, perfect for those who seek a bolder wine in winter months. –F.A.
Establecimiento Juanico 2018 Don Pascual Coastal Tannat (Uruguay); $15, 90 points. Berry, dark plum and a hint of raisin fill out the nose of this tightly wound Tannat. The full palate is cut by bright acidity, while plum and berry flavors finish with a complex saline note. Cork Alliance. Best Buy. –M.S.
Garzón 2018 Reserva Tannat (Uruguay); $20, 90 points. A ripe blackberry aroma mixes with a touch of saline on the nose. The palate of this Tannat from a benchmark vintage is ripe and full in feel. Blackberry jam and spice flavors are ripe and satisfying, while this is warm and complete on the finish. Pacific Highway Wines & Spirits. –M.S.
Famille Laplace 2017 Laplace (Madiran); $18, 88 points. From the producer who first introduced micro-oxygenation to wine, (bubbling oxygen into the wine to soften the tannins), this is a fine example of the technique in action. With gentle tannins boosting the black fruits, the wine is dense while always approachable, even when young. Drink this fruity wine now. Polaner Selections. –R.V.
Published: March 20, 2020