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What do Tannat wines taste like?

It's Tannat day on 14 April, and while this grape variety may still fly a little under the radar, it is producing brilliant red wines from south-west France to Uruguay.

What kind of wine is made from Tannat?

Red wines made from the Tannat grape variety are classically deep-hued and intense with a lush kernel of black fruit, from plums to black cherry and cassis.

They are also generally wrapped in plenty of tannins that can range from bold to fine-grained and supple, with decisions in the vineyard and the cellar resulting in varying styles.


Scroll down to see tasting notes & scores for 15 top Tannat wines


Balance is always the key, though, and some of the best recent examples integrate the grape variety’s tannin content with natural acidity and bright fruit.

You can also find Tannat being used to make rosé wines, as well as in blends alongside other grape varieties.

Decanter‘s US editor, Clive Pursehouse, enjoyed discovering this pét-nat wine produced from 100% Tannat in Oregon, too. ‘The palate is lively, fresh and delicate,’ he wrote last year.

Madiran

In Madiran, Tannat’s traditional heartland of south-west France, you might find Tannat blended with Cabernet Sauvignon and/or Cabernet Franc.

Producers have been working with ways to manage tannin content in the wines to ensure a harmonious balance with other elements, according to the region’s wine body.

Lauded wine producer Alain Brumont is known for pioneering a new wave of pure Tannat wines in Madiran, launching his Château Montus Prestige in 1985.

Yohan Castaing tasted several vintages at a Montus and La Tyre vertical in 2022, including the 2000.

‘A gorgeously fleshy mouthfeel, brimming with energy, lengthening a finish that consolidates its profound substance but also reveals surprising subtlety and delicacy. This vintage joins the ranks of the great ones,’ Castaing wrote.

It’s possible to make lighter styles of Tannat varietal wines, too. This cooperative-made Madiran is 90% Tannat and shows a ‘lighter touch’ with supple tannins yet opulent fruit, according to Decanter’s Stephen Brook.

This Plaimont, Château de Crouseilles wine is 100% Tannat. It’s ‘robust, brooding and tannic enough to pair well with full-flavoured meat dishes, but has plenty of ripe dark fruit to balance the power’, said Decanter’s Amy Wislocki. 

Tannat in Uruguay: A new ‘Malbec’ story?

Uruguay has been making a name for itself with fascinating styles of Tannat.

Patricio Tapia also wrote about the diversity of Tannat wines in the country in an Expert’s Choice article on Uruguay for Decanter magazine in 2023.

In Canelones, he wrote, ‘clay and chalk soils offer much more austere and monolithic versions of Tannat – wines that perhaps lack the fruity explosion of their Maldonado counterparts, but which still develop in the bottle like few other reds in South America.’

Jane Anson wrote in 2017 that Uruguay was the only country to have taken in Tannat as its national grape, a move that inevitably invites comparisons with how Argentina reimagined Malbec.

‘Estates like Bodega Garzon – located in a coastal village of the same name, close to Punta del Este by coincidence – have produced a more contemporary-styled version that is helping to smooth Tannat’s image of rustic, hard tannins in international markets,’ Anson wrote.

Tannat wines around the world

You’ll also find the grape variety in some other parts of the wine world, including the US.

This example from Michael Shaps in Virginia balances a tannic, full-bodied palate with lively acidity, wrote Lauren Mowery for Decanter last year.

In South Africa, wine writer Malu Lambert enjoyed this 100% Tannat from Lowerland Wines: ‘Soft and supple from 10 months’ ageing in older oak, the palate bursts with black cherries and blackcurrants.’


See tasting notes and scores for 15 top Tannat wines


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