Tannat in Texas vs. the World

So, yes, I am a little obsessed with Tannat.  Oh and this link too.  And this one.  A little French varietal named for its massive tannic structure, this grape fills in a lot of gaps in the Texas wine demand.

Here’s what I mean by that: most Texas (and American in general) wine drinkers are trained on California wine, and continue their explorations at home with those expectations in mind.  Working in a tasting room and talking to many winemakers and attendants, it was evident that customers were in search for wines like the big, bold, fruity Cabernet Sauvignons of Napa.  Although there are some fine examples of those here in the state, truth is we grow much more European-style wines with restrained fruit and solid minerality.  And lighter reds.  Sun and heat bleach tannins on the vine and it’s difficult to develop very tannic grapes in our terroir.  Although light reds are fabulous reds, and I personally adore the complexities of a less tannic mouth-experience, winemakers still feel the pressure to produce bigger wines to satisfy those palates.

Enter Tannat.  Mr. Tannin.  In Madiran, the region where it’s grown most in France, winemakers treat the grape to a series of practices to soften those tannins, like micro-oxygenation and shortened exposure to the skins and numerous pips.  The same is true for Harriague, the name for Tannat in Uruguay.  Here in Texas, the grape sees opposite treatment.  It often experiences extended maceration and extra time on the skins, to help those tannins really shine forth.  Winemakers can then use it to boost other wines in a blend, or show it off by itself and gather lots of attention.  It is sold out in many tasting rooms across the state.  See why I’m excited?  This grape has so much potential.

And here comes the great news: all these examples of Tannat are available to taste, all at the same place, with guidance and education from trained sommeliers.

GUSTO Tastings is showcasing Tannat in their Texas vs. The World tasting here in Austin this Tuesday, March 26th, starting 7:30pm at Malaga Tapas and Bar.  The planned flights are listed below and include 16 wines (with rumors of a few bonus bottles as well), plus cheese plates and tapas for snacks.  There are just a few tickets left and I recommend registering now. It will be an incredible opportunity to try a wide variety of examples of the grape and get yourself educated on the next big thing in Texas!

– Margaret Shugart

Old World- Flight 1

  1. Chateau Barrejat, Madiran, 2009
  2. Domaine du Moulie, Madiran, 2009

New World (South & North America)- Flight 2 & 3

  1. Pueblo del Sol, Juanico, Tannat Rose, 2011
  2. Don Pascual, Juanico, ‘Roble’ Tannat, 2007
  3. Bodegas Carrau, Cerro Chapeu, Amat, Tannat, 2005
  4. Bouza, Montevideo, Tannat, 2009
  5. Giménez Méndez, Canelones, Tannat, ‘Las Brujas’, 2010
  6. Pisano, Progreso, Arretxea, Grand Reserve, Tannat Blend, 2006
  7. Intipalka, Ica Valley, Tannat, 2009
  8. Fin Del Mundo, Patagonia, Tannat, 2009
  9. Rock Wall Wine Co., California, Tannat, ‘The Palindrome’, 2010

Texas – Flight 4

  1. Brushy Creek Vineyards, Texas, Tannat Rose, 2011
  2. Westcave Cellars, Texas Hill Country, Tannat, 2010
  3. Brushy Creek Vineyards, Texas, Tannat, 2010
  4. Brushy Creek Vintage, Texas, Tannat, ‘Rachel’s Reserve’, 2009

Bending Branch Winery – Flight 5

  1. Bending Branch Winery, Texas, Tannat Rose, 2012- Tank Sample
  2. Bending Branch Winery, Texas, Tannat, NV
  3. Bending Branch Winery, Texas Hill Country, Tannat Reserve, 2010
  4. Bending Branch Winery, California, Tannat Port, 2009