Deep ruby in color, this little-known grape is presented in an unexpected but not disappointing way. Smoke and leather, with dark cherry and raspberry fruit, mixing well with hints of vanilla, meet the taster on the nose. On the palate, it is smooth with the warmth of 13.9% alcohol, knitting seamlessly together with fine, medium tannins that do not jump out at you. The acid is also nicely balanced. It drinks well now, as can be expected since it was aged for 42 months in one-year-old French barrels and kept in bottle for another year to age and mature it further. The finish is well balanced, featuring fruit flavors that are fresh and clean with medium length. The release of this well-matured wine, the date for which is yet to be determined, should make you salivate.
Expectations of astringency and bold, gripping tannins from this powerhouse of a grape are not fulfilled. Rather, the Colorado fruit leaves us with a pleasant wine that does not need food to temper its power. Neither is it weak or lacking in character, but bold and smooth.
Typically, Tannat is blended to tame its toughness and hard tannins and appears in its most famous form in a wine called Madrian. Just as Malbec has found its revival in an outstanding Argentinian home, Tannat has found fame and is by far the most important red grape in its second home in Uruguay. A warmer climate seems to suit it. Colorado’s summer heat and Michelle Cleveland’s winemaking techniques may be the reason for its softer performance in Creekside Cellars’ version. However, in Uruguay it is blended with Pinot Noir or Merlot because it is still a harsh solo performer in that region. California and Argentina have some plantings, making Creekside’s wine worth experiencing as Tannat finds its way to other countries and seeks to discover its future form.
You’ll find many great Colorado wines described in my book, “Experiencing Colorado Wine,” and you’ll find the description of the pairing of several of them with a great recipes by great Colorado chefs. Order your autographed copy, Experiencing Colorado Wine at Square Market.