Tannat is a red wine variety is attracting some interest in Australia where it seems destined to be used for red wines intended for extended ageing, or to lend its intense colour and astringency to dry red blends.
Some synonyms for this variety are Moustrou, Madiran, Harriague, Bordeleza.
Tannat's homeland is in The Gers Department and nearby regions of South Western France, and one of its synonyms, Madiran, is also the name of an important appellation in that part of the world.
Tannat is also the most popular red wine variety in beef-eating Uruguay under the name of Harriague. It's popularity there probably stems from the Basque heritage of many Uruguayans who brought the variety when they immigrated.
It is a late ripening variety and is thus suitable for warmer areas.
If you think that Merlot is a mnemonic for "mellow" then you can add "Tannat = Tannic" to your memory bank.
Wines from this variety are notable for their very high levels of tannin. Careful winemaking or blending with other red wine varieties Cabernet Sauvignon, Cab Franc, and Fer can make these wines more approachable.
Tannat varietal wines wines are also very high in polyphenols. These are the good chemicals in wine that keep your heart healthy.
These wines are highly recommended by researcher Roger Corder who has recently written the highly acclaimed book The Red Wine Diet.
In a recent review in the UK Guardian, Malcolm Smith writes
South-west France stands out as the place to be if you want to live a long life. In spite of a diet rich in saturated fats from foie gras, cassoulet and copious cheeses, parts of this region have double the French average of men aged 90-plus. Corder puts it down to the local red wines, exemplified by the gutsy Madiran.
Sounds like excellent advice to me.
The following wineries in Australia use Tannat to make wines. Contact me if you know of any others.
You can put Tannat down as a dry red wine to try in winter with meaty dishes, beef stews and cassoulets or with mature cheese. The body, acid and tannins may overwhelm lighter styles of foods.
Sam Miranda of Symphonia suggests this excellent duck ragu recipe to make a fine dish to pair with Tannat.
Red wines were once thought to be good for you because of their resveratrol content. This idea is now controversial, but other compounds in red wine, particularly Tannat, are now believed to be very good for promoting health and longevity.
See this article about the health benefits of Resveratrol