When asked to name a South American red, the first thing that would spring to mind might be Argentinian Malbec. Big, juicy and rich. However, today I will be talking about another French export that packs a bigger punch; Uruguayan Tannat.
Historically Tannat has been grown in south west France, particularly in the Basque influenced area of south west France near the Pyrenees. Here the vineyards are nestled in the little AOC of Madiran, where it’s predominantly blended with Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Fer to soften Tannat’s astringent tannic blow, and make it more approachable. Nowadays a more modern approach is taken, focusing the wines on fruit forward character while using oak ageing to soften the tannins.
While that is the story in France, we’re interested in what’s been going on in Uruguay where the warmer climate has led Tannat to flourish. Back in 1870 Tannat was imported across to Uruguay by Basque immigrants. They found that Uruguay had the perfect climate and soil for the grape and vines to prosper. In fact, Uruguay’s climate and topography has been so perfect that Tannat found itself reaching ’national variety’ status. So it makes sense that today it is the most widely planted varietal and almost every Uruguayan vinter produces Tannat.
On our list we have 3 amazing and very exciting Tannats all of which come from the Canelones region of Uruguay. The first one we have is Del Pedregal Tannat 2013, which is a deep crimson colour, with delicious recurrent notes, sweet spice and slight smokey undertones.
Next up is the Bodega Stagnari Prima Donna, which is a more serious style of Tannat, 2 years old than the Del Pedregal and that gives it a rich depth of dark fruit flavours, with smoky meaty notes, which rounds off in a velvety smooth finish. For me this is the perfect steak wine.
Another Tannat on our list is the Artesana 2012 packed full of spicy black and red fruit flavours, with coffee and dark chocolate. Overall a fantastic alternative to Malbec; it’s chunkier, deeper, and a lot more interesting.