Tannat — an often forgotten grape varietal, one that is rarely seen in a single-varietal bottling. It’s thick-skinned, tannic, acidic, and a gothic shade of purple. To look at it, you may think angry thoughts — and to prevent those angry thoughts when drinking, winemakers often blend Tannat with the more voluptuous Cabernet Franc or Merlot — or, in Uruguay, even Pinot Noir. (Learn more about the origins of Tannat.)
But there seems to be a recent turn of events. Maybe it’s because the warm-weathered Uruguay has adopted the lonely variety as their heritage grape. Maybe it’s because “weird” wine is now some kind of fad. Or maybe, maybe, winemakers and drinkers alike have discovered that there’s no need to be afraid of the dark. Remember,
“Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”
About the Wine: The Troon Vineyard 2014 Estate Tannat is made from 100% Tannat grapes grown in their estate vineyards — which are LIVE and Salmon Safe certified vineyards — in the Applegate Valley. After harvest, the grapes are foot-stomped for skin contact and to encourage native yeast production. After a few days, the grapes are de-stemmed into small fermenters where they undergo primary native yeast fermentation and hand punch downs. The wine is then pressed into French Oak barrels (100% seasoned, 0% new) to age for 18 months before bottling.
Flavor Profile: Upon opening the bottle, the Troon Vineyard 2014 Estate Tannat emits beautiful aromatics of cassis, plum, and current. On the pour, the wine is a brownish-purple, settling into a calming, rich and thick purple in the glass — reminiscent of a red wine reduction sauce: so thick, you can hardly see through it.
The nose of the Tannat is thick with plum juice, and some kind of secret umaminess — soy? teriyaki? fish sauce? Swirl and sniff again. This releases some of the freshness from those plums, and a nice cut of acid comes through. With that, the bouquet of fruits grows: black cherries and blackberries are full, ripe, round and jammy. Move your nose to the top of the glass and find some earthy tree-like scents of tree bark and dried leaves with an almost musky-cologne quality.
On the palate, the Tannat is rich, full, dark — but those tannins are just so plush. There’s a good level of acidity that cuts right through the center and lingers a little on the finish with a bit of heat and spice. Flavors are reminiscent of those fruits found on the nose, but in dehydrated form — dried cherries, dried plums, currants, prunes, dates. And yet they still have some juice to them, as if they’ve been soaked in water for a bit. And if you’re paying attentions (which you should) you’ll find a fun background aromatic of musky leather.
Food Pairing: I enjoyed the Troon Vineyard 2014 Estate Tannat with roasted veal topped with a blackberry-red wine reduction sauce, served with a cauliflower puree and salad. The soft texture of the meat and the fact that it’s a lighter cut did well to enhance the body of the wine. Meanwhile, that blackberry sauce pulled out more of the freshness in the fruits of the wine, giving it a more juicy quality. Overall the balance of the meal allowed the wine to open up, both texturally and flavor-wise, and, as my tasting notes say, this wine is “just so free and happy.”
So glad I turned the light on for Tannat.
More Info: I received the Troon Vineyard 2014 Estate Tannat as a sample for review. (Cheers, Craig!) Retail: $45. More information about Troon Vineyard and their wines can be found in my series on Oregon Wines and my article about Applegate Valley. Of course for even more information and to purchase wines directly, please visit the Troon Vineyard website.
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