To learn more about the Tannat variety, I visit three wineries in Uruguay, the country which has made Tannat its national grape variety. It is a tricky grape, very small and big seeds. It needs time to ripen, and then the alcohol levels shoot up.
The first winery I visit is Bodega Narbona. It is a beautiful property, dating back to 1909. A lot of the old equipment, including vintage cars, is still there. However, the winery was abandoned at some point. It then got restored, with vineyards quite young right now. At present, the winery produces 10,000 cases per annum. The tasting took place in the beautiful cave.
Sauvignon Blanc is the major white variety in Uruguay. The 2018 wine here has aromas of cut flowers and quite tropical flavours. The wine is not as acidic as some (88 points).
The big surprise, and actual best wine of the tasting was the 2018 Rose, based on Tannat. Only young vines are used for this wine. There is less than one hour skin contact of the juice, to avoid strong tannins, and then the wine is matured for four months in 600L used French oak barrels. The result is a fresh, flavoursome wine, tasting of red berries and strawberries. It is quite well structured, dry and with some length (92 points).
The 2015 Pinot Noir is less successful. It is grown on different soil profiles, limestone, clay/silt, and sand. The dark cherry taste of this quite acidic wine includes some unusual citrus notes and a salty flavour (88 points).
The first Tannat is from 2016, a high yielding wine (13t/ha) from young fruit; fresh, fruit forward and easy drinking (85 points). A more serious wine is a 2014 blend of Tannat (45%), Shiraz (45%), and Petit Verdot (10%). The flavours are of black and blue fruits. It starts smooth on the front palate, but gets a bit unbalanced on the long finish (89 points).
The most serious wine of the tasting is a 2014 Tannat. Here the yield drops to 8t/ha ( more on Tannat yields in a later post). The wine is matured for 12 months in a mix of French and American new and second use oak. The wine has a deep purple colour, with blackberry, black cherry, and plum flavours. The alcohol is at an acceptable level of 14%. The tannins are firm, and do not detract from an overall smooth impression (91 points).