Sunday, December 6, 2015

Tasting Tannat from Texas

Tannat is a red grape (Vitis vinifera) native to France and historically produced in France's Madiran appellation.  Its deep color and strong tannins make it popular as a blending partner with lighter varieties, but it is not often produced on its own. 

Some New World wine regions are bucking this trend and producing Tannat as a varietal.  Uruguay has adopted Tannat as its national grape and hopes to become as famous for Tannat as Argentina is for Malbec.  Texas is experimenting with Tannat as well, and I tasted some Texas Tannat when I visited Barking Rocks winery earlier this year.

Barking Rocks is in Granbury, Texas and part of the Way Out Wineries wine trail.  Barking Rocks combines lovely scenery with a friendly tasting room and some delicious wines.  The Tannat grapes are grown in the Texas High Plains and transported to Barking Rocks for vinification.  (Check out the Texas Wine Cheat Sheet for more about Texas wine appellations.) 

Barking Rocks Tannat has a deep, ruby-purple color and aromas of blackberry, boysenberry, sweet spice, cedar, and a hint of savory smokiness.  The nose has lots of rich fruit, but the palate is a bit more tart, while still fruity, with more emphasis on the savory/smoky characteristics.  This is a big wine, with high acid and high tannin, but moderate alcohol at 11.8%.

Aging helps to smooth out the rough edges of Tannat, so this wine undergoes aging at the winery. I purchased it in 2015, and the current vintage for sale was 2008, so the wine was already 7 years old.  I drank it a few months later and enjoyed it as much as when I tasted it at the winery, but this wine could easily age and improve for another 5 years or more.  It costs $25 at the winery.  It's not currently available for sale in Houston, but you can order it from the Barking Rocks website.

For those unfamiliar with this grape, the Barking Rocks Tannat reminds me a bit of Syrah.  The flavor profile and the powerful structure are similar.  However, the Tannat is a bit lighter in alcohol than I'd expect from a Syrah that tastes like this Tannat.  I think that's an advantage, because I often prefer wines in the 12% range, rather than one with 14% or higher abv, simply because they're easier to drink and pair with food.

I'd encourage you to try Tannat and to visit Barking Rocks, especially if you live in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.  It's a short drive to Granbury, which has lots of other fun attractions to round out your day trip.

You might also be interested in:
Texas Wine Cheat Sheet
Argentina Wine Cheat Sheet
The Wines of San Juan, Argentina

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