1851 Vineyards Estate Tannat

While some may consider it unlikely to find a great Tannat in Texas, 1851 Vineyards is a winery that deserves our attention with their impressive 1851 Vineyards Estate Tannat wine from the 2016 vintage. 

A hue and aroma that is true to Tannat

Immediately, this Tannat excites dry-red-wine drinkers with its deep purple, almost black hue.  The extraction is full, with dark fruit notes of blackberry and black plum, warmed with a harmonious integration of vanilla and a hint of cinnamon.  Detect touches of honey as well, along with floral notes, cloves, and dark chocolate. The aroma is persistent and shows little sign of fading in the glass. 

A silky smoothness that softens the typical punch of Tannat

A truly silky mouth-feel softens the punch (something for which this grape is known), which is expected from such a powerful wine.  Additionally, this wine possesses a viscous body that leaves the mouth coated for a long-lasting experience of its rich flavors. 

Flavor and strength of tannin add their impressive contributions

The flavors, as do the aromas, show the skill of producing balance while preserving the wine’s character.  Adequate acid encourages salivation and keeps a refreshing brightness that so many deep wines lose. 

The tannins begin their grip on the mid-palate and expand as the finish approaches.  For a wine of such strength, the finish of this Tannat is soft and graceful and, of importance, totally devoid of bitterness.  In fact, the tannins are fine and soft.  So, as it ages, it will no doubt offer a complete integration. 

At 13.5% alcohol, the wine is well balanced overall with more than sufficient fruit to keep alcohol and tannins in balance — truly great wine.   

A rating of 91 to 93 can well be expected as the wine ages.  You will find it hard to resist, though, and it may end its life in its youth, as my first bottle did. 

C. S. Vin  11-5-18

(Check out the author’s course in evaluating Wine, Experiencing Wine’s Wonders, and make your own evaluation).

Texas Tannat! Have you tried it yet?

Aside

Tannat is making a name for itself in Texas.  Many remember it as an almost black wine that they once tasted and found pleasing and powerful.  Some examples were astringent and “hard.” But now, Texas and other places around the globe where interest in it is growing, are producing some very impressive wines made from this grape in.  The 1851 Vineyards Estate Tannat 2016 and the Tannats from Bending Branch Winery (two Texas wineries) are some you must experience.  Lovers of big, dry, red wines that also show finesse will find themselves hooked.

Gascogne is Tannat’s original home 

In its original home, you will find Tannat in a blend locally called “Madrian,” Gascogne’s signature red wine.  Gascogne is in southwest France, bordered on the west by the Atlantic and to the South, by Spain.  To the north, lies the world famous wine region of Bordeaux.  Vineyards are reportedly in this region from as far back as the Gallo-Roman times.

French AC rules dictate that the vineyards from which Madrian is made must be 40%-80% Tannat, with Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Fer making up the rest of the vineyard’s vines.  Most of the impressive Tannats come from vineyards planted in near 80% Tannat.  

The soils of Gascogne vary from limestone and clay to stony soils and, finally, rocky, drier soils as the elevation climbs the rugged Pyrenees.  Manganese and iron are plentiful in these soils. But the New World lays claim to presenting the grape with its own signature.  

Micro-oxygenation softened the tannins

If vinified without care, Tannat is tough, dense, and astringent, requiring de-stemming to soften its profile.  It was here in Gascogne that micro-oxygenation of wines to further soften the tannin’s impact was first engineered and used.  In its best presentation, it can rival a classed growth from Bordeaux.  

Texas Tannat

This black grape can produce dark, opaque wines in Texas, although some examples fall short of extracting its best characteristics.  It can produce wines of distinction, power, and elegance when all the factors it requires in vineyard management and winemaking are met.  My tasting notes and comments on the outstanding 1851 Vineyard’s 2016 Estate Tannat, a wine you should not miss, appear in the next article.   

C. S. Vin  11-4-18

(Check out the author’s course in evaluating wine, Experiencing Wine’s Wonders, and make your own evaluation).