Awhile back I did a close up look at Tannat in my feature Let’s Talk (and Taste) Tannat. Here, I featured the Californian Tannat trail-blazer Yannick Rousseau of Y. Rousseau, who makes two single-varietal Tannats (his Russian River expression, and the more exclusive, single-vineyard expression entitled The Musketeer), as well as a rosé of Tannat. I also called out the Oregon pioneer Troon Vineyard who makes both a single-varietal Tannat as well as a Tannat-Malbec blend.
The truth is, however, that Tannat is somewhat the “heritage grape” of Uruguay — a region I’ve only recently began to explore through various media tasting events. After reading my take on Tannat, I was quickly put into contact with Artesana, a boutique estate winery located in the Canelones region of Uruguay. They, too, are deserving of a noteworthy title, as the creative women who run the winery are (as far as we know) the only in the world to create a unique “TMZ” blend — Tannat blended with Merlot and Zinfandel (the latter varietal being the unexpected ingredient). And so it is high time we take a look at the single-varietal expression of Tannat, straight out of the country the grape now calls home.
About the Wine: The Artesana 2015 Tannat is made from 100% Tannat grapes harvested from the single vineyard estate winery located in the Canelones region of Uruguay. Each vineyard block was fermented separately in stainless steel tanks and went through a 20-day cool maceration process. The wine was then aged in combination French and American oak barrels (combination new and seasoned) for 12 months. The final blend was created right before bottling; the wine was bottled without filtration.
Flavor Profile: Open up the bottle of the Artesana 2015 Tannat and find immediate aromas of a worcestershire-meaty-umaminess. On the pour, this Tannat is a rich, crushed velvet maroon at midnight, settling into the glass just as thick and rich — impenetrable from the center on out.
Initial aromas are reminiscent of coffee, burnt coffee grounds; dark, bursting blackberries; mean, green cruciferous vegetables; and wet cedar wood. Swirl and release a bit of ocean-side funk, a kind of seaside sand minerality. You’ll also find some freshness to those berries, a richness to that soil — everything seems to come together in this round, beautiful nose, tied neatly with a thin line of acidity.
The palate is full, yet simultaneously refreshing. The tannins seem to reverse melt on the tongue and do so so subtly, it’s hard to tell when exactly they disappear (a quarter way through? halfway through?). Dominant flavors are of blackberry jam, coffee, chocolate, brandy, wet sand, and almond skins. The finish is long, lingering, with an after breath filled by the warmth of a winter time fire.
Food Pairing: I paired the Artesana 2015 Tannat with a seafood paella. This elegantly robust Tannat pairs beautiful with the spices throughout this dish. I especially loved taking a bit of the crunchy, kind of burnt bits of rice at the bottom of the plate and then sipping on my wine — something about that smokey flavor really brought out another level in this wine. I would pair this wine with this meal again — and hope that I cooked my paella just as beautifully to pay due respect to what the Artesana winemakers have produced.
More Info: I received the Artesana 2015 Tannat as a sample for review. (Cheers Leslie!) Retail: Inquire. For more information about Artesana, their wines, and to purchase wines directly, please visit the Artesana Winery website.
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