Are you getting tired of the same old same old when it comes to wine? Do you need to spice your wine life up a bit? Are you stuck in a Cabernet rut and ready to bust out?!? Then this is the episode for you! In this episode, we discover a wine called Tannat, also known as Madiran in France, which is a great option for red wine lovers. Tannat is a bold, flavorful, and delicious red wine that is growing in popularity, and it is the most widely planted red wine grape in Uruguay. Wait, what’s that you say, you didn’t know they made wine in Uruguay?!? Well, there’s another great reason to listen to this episode - so you can learn a little bit about the Uruguayan wine industry. If you are a red wine fan and are looking for something new to explore, this could be the wine for you! Wines reviewed in this episode: 2020 Bodega Garzón Uruguay Reserva Tannat, 2019 Familia Traversa Tannat, and 2018 Marichal Uruguay Reserve Tannat.
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Episode 69: If You Like Cabernet, You’ll Love Tannat 00:00
Hello! And welcome to The Wine Pair Podcast. I’m Joe, your sommelier of reasonably priced wine, and this is my wife and my wine pairing partner in crime, Carmela. And we are The Wine Pair!
Ok, a quick orientation for those of you who may be new to the podcast - in each episode we learn about, taste and review three wines that are reasonably priced - meaning under $20 - and should be easy for you to find. Our podcast is made for people like us - people who really like wine, but want to learn more about different wines, find new wines to explore, and feel more confident when we talk about and order wines. So, if that sounds like you, you are in the right place! And, you should also know that when we taste and rate wines on our podcast, we will be very honest with you - we won’t be afraid to tell you if we think a wine is crap or if it is great. And we are proud to say that we are officially recommended by the editors of Decanter Magazine from their October issue, who call us fun, irreverent, chatty, and entertaining.
Well, Carmela, this is an episode for the red wine lover in your life, whoever that may be, and even more, the red wine lover who likes full-bodied wines with lots of tannin and rich flavors like a Cabernet Sauvignon. Now, that may not be you, Carmela, and it may not even be me, but there are lots and lots and lots of red wine fans out there who like those big bold wines.
It is very common for those who love those wines to just knee jerk order a good old Cabernet Sauvignon. But you know what I say? Boring! I say it is time to step it up a little and try something different - and something that you might just like, or even love!
So, for this episode, we are going to try a wine called Tannat. What is that you say, you’ve never heard of Tannat? Well, we are here to edumacate you today on Tannat!
Now, we are not going to bag on Cabernet Sauvignon. Afterall, it is a very, very popular wine. In fact, it is the MOST widely grown wine grape in the world, with over 840 thousand acres dedicated to it across the globe. The next most popular, Merlot, has nearly 25% fewer acres dedicated to it. In the United States, Cabernet Sauvignon is also the top dog, and more than 10% of all US vineyard space is set aside for it. So, look, even if it is not our favorite wine, people love, love, love it!
And, there are lots of things that people love about Cabernet Sauvignon. What do you think some of those things are, Carmela?
- Relatively easy to grow: Not only is it pretty easy to grow, it is really adaptable to a lot of different climates.
- Bold and Intense Flavor: When I think of a Cab Sauv, I think of a flavor bomb that punches you in the face - with flavors like blackberry and blackcurrant, as well as tobacco, vanilla, and oak.
- Pairs well with rich foods: It is a fairly versatile wine with food, and for the American diet, and other diets that love red meat, or that love pizza and pasta, it is a good choice.
- Ages well: Because good versions of it can age, they can actually change in complexity and depth of flavor over time (But don’t try it with a crappy Cab Sauv, ok?!?). I think this is one of the most underrated aspects of wine because, especially in America, we are just used to buying and drinking young wine.
- It’s ubiquitous: Just go to a wine shop or restaurant or bar or grocery store. There is a ton of Cab Sauv - there are sections dedicated to it. In fact, you can almost guarantee that if you go to an average bar and ask what red wine they have, the first wine they mention, and maybe the only wine they have, is a Cabernet. And we ran into that not so long ago at the Chieftan near Seattle University.
- Global: When we say it is all over the place, it is all over the place. It is grown in nearly every wine grape growing region, and it can also be pretty different depending on where and how it is grown and made.
So, we get it. People love it. But, again, part of our goal with this podcast is to help people find new wines that they might like, and we think that Tannat, which by the way, is very popular in Uruguay which we will also talk about more later, is a great option because it has many of the same characteristics of Cabernet Sauvignon, but has its own special flare as well.
In that way, I find it similar to Malbec - it is a wine that people are really starting to like, and it appeals to Cabernet Sauvignon lovers, and, like Tannat, it most famously come from a South American country, and while it has some similarities to Cabernet, it is a great wine in its own right that is worth knowing, and gives you the option to have other wines to try and enjoy. So there!
So, we are going to find out more about Tannat, what makes it special, and why it is a good choice for Cabernet lovers . . .
But first . . . we have to do our shameless plug, right Carmela? First, we want to start by saying THANK YOU for listening to us and for supporting our show, and if you have not had the chance to do so yet, now would be an awesome time to subscribe to our podcast - it is a free way to support us, and then you never have to miss a show! - and a huge thank you to all of you who have subscribed already - we really really appreciate it!
And, another great way to support us for FREE is to leave a nice rating and review on our website or on Apple Podcasts or other podcast service where they allow that sort of thing so we can continue to grow our listeners.
You can also follow us and see fun pictures of the wines we are tasting and trying today on Instagram at thewinepairpodcast, and you can contact us on our website thewinepairpodcast.com with any questions or ideas you have.
And, as we do every week, we’ll tell you someone we think you should tell about The Wine Pair Podcast - and this week we want you to tell anyone who loves Cabernet Sauvignon and is looking for a new wine to try to expand their wine repertoire.
ARTICLES and LINKS
Topic: WTF is Tannat, and why is it a good option for Cabernet Sauvignon lovers? 09:47
So, Carmela, you may be asking yourself, what the fuck is Tannat? Is that what you are asking yourself?
Tannat is a wine made from a grape called - you guessed it - Tannat that originally came from Southwestern France in a region called Madiran, which is near the Pyrénées mountain range which borders Spain, and is still grown there. And, while France still grows the most Tannat, the country that is most known for Tannat production is Uruguay where it is known as the “national grape.” And, fun fact - all of the Tannat wines we are tasting today come from Uruguay.
On a side note, in France, the wine is pronounced without the “t” at the end, so Tan-A, but in Uruguay, it is pronounced as Tan-Nat. And, when looking for the French version, you will often find that the wine is named for the region it comes from rather than the grape, so you can be reasonably sure that if you find a red wine from France called Madiran, it will likely be a wine made from Tannat.
Now, more fun facts: Uruguay does not make a ton of wine, but over a third of all wine made in Uruguay is Tannat. Tannat was one of the very first wine grapes brought to Uruguay in 1870 - so the start of Uruguayan wine production and Tannat are intertwined. Like a creeping vine.
Uruguay is also not a huge country, it is roughly about the size of Washington State, where we are by the way, and its vineyards are mostly located on its coastline, where the climate can be a little more mild.
There are currently fewer than 300 wineries in Uruguay (one online source said there were only 180, but, you know, internet), and most of them are very small, and the whole country produces only about 67k liters, or 10 million cases of wine, a year. Which may sound like a lot, but for comparison, Italy, the largest wine producing country, produces over 4.2 million liters per year, and the US, at #4, makes about 2.3 million liters per year. So, Uruguay is much much smaller, and is about 28th in terms ranking of countries that produce wine.
Tannat is evidently well suited for the country of Uruguay because it is a thick-skinned grape that can handle the many variations in climate that the country of Uruguay has.
So, let’s talk about the wine itself. Tannat is known as an aggressive and bold wine, so it is probably not going to be a wine for the faint of heart. It is a wine that is described as having a lot of tannin and a lot of body with a moderate amount of acid, and so in that way, it is very similar to Cabernet Sauvignon. Other similar wines with really high tannin and big body with moderate acidity are Petit Verdot, Petite Sirah, Monastrell, Sagrantino di Montefalco and Aglianico from Italy.
Tannat wines are also wines that tend to be oaked, and can be aged so that they mellow out, so, again, similar to Cabernet Sauvignon, although sometimes winemakers will create unoaked versions and even sparkling. And the taste profiles are similar as well, with a focus on black fruits, plum, and smoke.
The wine is often also described as astringent, which means that it can have the feeling of coating the tongue, drying out the mouth, making you want to pucker a bit, and leaving a kind of a coarse feeling. I also associate it with high alcohol.
When it comes to food, this is going to be one of those typical big red wines that needs to be paired with fatty foods and protein rich foods, so think red meats, steaks, game if you are into that kind of thing, and rich stews.
So, this will be interesting. I don’t think these wines are quite up your alley, Carmela, but it will be really interesting to try this wine which we have never had before, and I don’t think we have ever had wine from Uruguay before either!
If you want to learn more, you can head over to our show notes by going to our website, looking for this episode, and then clicking to open our show notes. We have lots of great articles and links there for you.
So let’s learn a little more about the specific wines we are drinking today.
ARTICLES and LINKS
Tannat Wines We Chose for This Episode 16:32
As usual, all of the wines we would have chosen for this episode are under $20, and all of them should be relatively easy to find because I bought them all on wine.com. And, while Tannat may not be the easiest wine to find, I know we can also find it at our local Total Wine store, so my bet is that if you look around, you can find it. And, remember, you may also be able to find it as the French wine called Madiran, which may be a little easier to find if a local wine shop has a French wine section.
Also, all of these wines are well regarded. Each of them has a rating somewhere between an 89 and 90 from Wine Enthusiast, and Wine & Spirits gave one of the wines a 93 rating. Also, previous vintages for several of these wines have been highly rated, so at least we know we have a good chance of finding a good wine among this crop.
Our first wine is called Bodega Garzón Uruguay Reserva Tannat 2020, and this is evidently a highly regarded wine. The winery is in the Maldonado region of Uruguay, which is a coastal area. This is an area growing in popularity for wine grape growing and wine production because the weather is a little cooler and the soils are pretty rocky, which grapes like. And, it is located in a tiny town of about 600 people called Garzón.
This wine is fermented in cement tanks, and then is aged for 6-12 months in untoasted French oak. French oak can be more subtle that other oaks, especially American oak, and when it is untoasted, it is evidently even more subtle .
Wine Enthusiast gave this wine a top 100 rating in 2021. So, I have high hopes for this wine.
The second wine is called Familia Traversa Tannat, and this wine is from a region called Montevideo which is the second largest wine growing area in Uruguay, second to a region called Canalones.
The Traversa winery mentions that they produce 75% of their own energy from things like solar energy, and they do not use herbicides, and they use natural fertilizers made from plants. They also hand pick their grapes, ferment them in stainless steel tanks, and age their wine for 2 months in American oak. So, a more oaky oak, but only 2 months of aging, so it should be a little mellow on the oak.
Wine & Spirits gave this wine 90 points and called it a Best Buy and a top 100 wine that year. So that’s two top 100 wines. Wowee wow wow.
Our last wine is called Marichal Uruguay Reserve Tannat and is our oldest of the bunch as a 2018. This wine comes from the largest wine producing area again called Canalones, which is close to the capital of Montevideo, and is said to have a milder climate and clay soils.
The Marichal winery is family owned and was started in 1938. From what I can tell, they age their wine for 12 months in oak, but they hold back 30% of the wine to keep it unoaked before they bottle them together. They also use Malolactic fermentaiton which can help to mellow out a wine. Now, this information came from the website. However, on wine.com they say the wine is not oaked, so I am confused, but I am going to assume the Marichal website is correct.
So, we have three different Tannat wines, all from Uruguay, and all well rated by several publications, but from three different years and from a couple of different regions, so we will see first if we like this varietal - and so having three different versions can help with that rather than just having one wine from one winemaker - and then we can also see if we like any of these wines better than the others.
So, on that note, I think we have been talking enough and it’s time to get drinking! Whaddya say?!?
ARTICLES and LINKS
Tannat Wine Pairing Tasting and Reviews 23:16
Wine: Bodega Garzón Uruguay Reserva Tannat (Click here to buy this wine on wine.com. Affiliate link)
Region: Uruguay, Maldonado
Producer: Bodega Garzón
Professional Rating: JS 91, WE 90, W&S 93
What we tasted and smelled in this Tannat:
- On the nose: Alcohol, classic red wine smell, black cherry, smoke, sour cherry, wood/cedar, spice, black pepper, earth/dirt
- In the mouth: Chery, plum, not super oaky, smooth, black cherry, a little chewiness, very pleasant, touch of chocolate, a touch of rose
Food to pair with this Tannat: Very versatile, grilled steak, red meat, pizza, pasta, puttanesca, bolognese sauce, spicy sausage, chorizo, italian sausage sandwich
As a reminder on our rating scale, we rate on a scale of 1-10, where 7 and above means that we would buy it, and 4 and below means that we are likely to pour it down the sink, and a 5 or 6 means we are likely to drink it and finish it, but we are probably not going to buy it.
- Joe: 8/10
- Carmela: 7/10
Wine: Familia Traversa Tannat (Click here to buy this wine on wine.com. Affiliate link)
Region: Uruguay, Montevideo
Producer: Familia Traversa
Professional Rating: WE 90
What we tasted and smelled in this Tannat:
- On the nose: Rose perfume, Australian licorice, alcohol, plum, tart, sour cherry, a touch of smoke
- In the mouth: Tart cherry, astringent, less smooth, less depth, very tart, a little young? Blood orange - has some citrus. Seems to have a light body. Cinnamon. Fresh red plum. Sour red grape. Very tart blueberry.
Food to pair with this Tannat: Harder to pair with food. May not pair with really substantial steak. Stick to things with bread like pizza or a burger. Baked brie.
- Joe: 5/10
- Carmela: 5/10
Wine: Marichal Uruguay Reserve Tannat (Click here to buy this wine on wine.com. Affiliate link)
Region: Uruguay, Canelones
Professional Rating: WE 89
What we tasted and smelled in this Tannat:
- On the nose: Dark cherry, smells a bit like a Chianti, a little perfume, leather, shoe leather, spice, vanilla
- In the mouth: Smooth, not super oaky, In between the two wines. Tart. Rose. Wood. Smoke
Food to pair with this Tannat: Red meat, lasagna, stuffed chicken breast, stuffed flank steak, pizza, teriyaki chicken.
- Joe: 7/10
- Carmela: 7/10
Which one of these are you finishing tonight?
- Carmela: Bodega Garzón Uruguay Reserva Tannat
- Joe: Bodega Garzón Uruguay Reserva Tannat
Taste profiles expected from Tannat 44:37
- Typical smell: Blackberry, black cherry, licorice, tobacco. As it ages, it gets aromas of leather, game, smoke, and cigar box.
- Typical flavors: Black Currant, Plum, licorice, smoke, and cardamom
- Bodega Garzón
- Website: Deep purple in colour, this Tannat fresh aromas reminiscent of red and black fruits such as plums and raspberries on a spice-flavoured aroma.
- WE: aromas of cherry, red plum and light oak.This is Uruguayan Tannat in its cleanest, most modern form. The palate feels juicy and medium in body. Light spice notes accent popping plum and raspberry flavors, while the finish is easygoing.
- Familia Traversa
- Website: Tasting notes: Intense ruby red color, aromas of red fruits and raisins with mineral notes that make it a fresh wine with the tannic power that characterizes it. Nice astringency
- WE: Robed in purple fruit, this combines plum and dark raspberry flavors, salty and oceanic in their freshness. Ripe and soft (for tannat), this is a clean red to pour with charcuterie.
- Website: It presents red and black fruit aromas in a mature state. Smooth texture with an interesting roundness of tannins, with hints of vanilla and tobacco.
- WE: Pinched blackberry aromas include a note of leather, while this fresh-style Tannat is tightly wound, with high acidity. Short pops of tart black cherry, dark plum and blackberry flavors finish clean and short, with a dash of leftover oak.
Outro and how to find The Wine Pair Podcast 48:18
Ok, so, Carmela, it is just about time for us to go, but before we do, we want to thank you very much for listening to us - AND if you haven’t done so yet, now would be the perfect time to subscribe to our podcast AND also a fantastic time to leave us a nice rating and review on our website or Apple podcasts or other podcast service - and it is an awesome and free way to support us and help us grow listeners.
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Alright, with that, we are going to sign off, so thanks again, and we will see you next time. And, as we say, life is short, so stop drinking shitty wine.