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Monday, March 3, 2014

Tannat - Making Believers

Sipping Primitivo and listening Tommy Emmanuel, I’m thinking.

I know I’m always saying that anyone who knows me, and then go on about how “it’s no secret that” blah blah - well here I go again.

It’s no secret that I love Tannat, and in fact I love a great many wines from the Sud-Ouest.  If you follow my blog or know me on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, you know this already.  (In fact, on Instragram I’m @tannatforlife, so there you go.)
Often I’m amazed by how few people are familiar with the wines of Sud-Ouest (think Cahors, Madiran, Bergerac, Pacherenc, Gaillac, Fronton, and Jurancon) - and considering Americans’ love for big, bold, rich wines, I’m even more surprised, especially since I find that almost no one knows the name Tannat - the dark grape used in Madiran and Irouleguy.  It makes some big, dark, rich wines (albeit very dry wine), and they’re not particularly expensive, most Madiran wines I’ve come across are around $17 (although Montus is generally higher), and most Irouleguy I’ve bought are between $20 and $26.  And now that I think of it, Madiran and Irouleguy would be ideal pairing wines for lots of American foods, especially since we love meaty dishes and (admittedly) fatty dishes.  Imagine a bold dry red with mac and cheese, or a bacon ad bleu cheese burger, or a ribeye steak - wow.  (I prefer that kind of wine with cassoulet, but it would certainly pair up well to American dishes.)

And also interesting to me is how few wine professionals seem to place any importance on these wines.  I’ve seen more Cahors these days in wine shops (but mainly more esoteric or upscale wine boutiques) and occasionally on wine lists, but still not often at all.  (And considering how popular Malbec has become, it’s really peculiar to me that Argentina gets all the placements and attention, casting aside the wonderfully expressive Malbec based wines of Cahors.)
But for now, I want to tell you a little more about Tannat, and some of my observations and thoughts.

Like I mentioned, Tannat is special to me.  Considering I generally prefer lighter to medium bodied reds from cool climate growing regions, the dry, honest, expressiveness of Tannat based wines of Madiran and Irouleguy have left their impression on me and in fact I crave them almost too often.

So imagine my thoughts (and borderline bewilderment) when a fellow wine pro has some less than flattering things to say about my beloved Tannat - immediately I embark on a mission to make a believer of the person.  (A brown bag is often the proper vehicle for blind tasting and prevents any prejudice before observing, smelling, and tasting the wine.)  All it takes is an excellent example of Madiran or Irouleguy, the Tannat based wines, often blended with a bit of Cabernet Franc and sometimes some Cabernet Sauvignon, and the wines can make a believer out of any cynic!  I suppose a concern of mine is that if the wines are brought in with indifference, many poor quality examples will be tasted, and certainly in time, the wine taster will become skeptical of the grape and regions in question.  But all it takes are some excellent examples to counter the negative experiences, and a dry, expressive, honest, well balanced wine will find its way into the heart of the wine professional, as it did to me.

Find some examples of them, and of other wines of Sud-Ouest too - you won’t be taking much of a risk as the wines, like I mentioned, are relatively inexpensive, and they’re fun, delicious, food friendly, and unique.

1 comment:

  1. hello, i 'm alone in Gaillac to have tannat grape and i make a tannat braucol grape very interesting you have to taste. nicolas domaine du moulin