Tannat

Tannat is a red wine grape, like many others with a long history in France.  Unlike many others though, Tannat does not trace its heritage to Bordeaux, Burgundy or Champagne, instead it traces it heritage to a small village in southwestern France.

Over time of course, much like Malbec, Tannat has begun to be grown in many other regions of the world as well.  It now is considered the national grape of the country of Uruguay, surely hoping for a Argentinean success story like that country enjoys with Malbec.

Tannat fits in Uruguay largely because the grape is originally home to Basque country (a region that straddles both France and Spain and has long thought they deserved Independence of their own, including bombings and attacks largely against then Spanish government), some of those Basque settlers moved to South America and brought cuttings with them.

The resulting wines made from Tannat are usually abnormally high in tannin levels, although that seems lessened in both Uruguay and some lesser known regions in America like Arizona.  That makes the grape a nice fit in those regions, moreso than its ancestral home in France or the similar climates of Napa Valley or Sonoma.

Here in California Tannat is often being made these days into a stand alone variety by highly respected vintners like Bonny Doon, Tablas Creek.  In Oregon, Toon Vineyard makes a highly thought of (and quickly sold out) version of the grape).

In any case, Tannat can be a very interesting varietal in many regions, especially where it loses at least some of its trademark tannin levels.  While many vintners throughout the centuries in France thought of the grape as little more than a blending grape, once again the different soil and climate in South America might just save another noble grape from extinction.