Tannat Day is April 14 and we have some Texas Tannat for that. Although it originated in South West France, interestingly enough, my first taste of Tannat was not one from there. It was during a trip to Uruguay when I’d never even heard of the variety. During my trip, I found out that Tannat was considered the signature wine of the country. As an aside, I think this was one of my earliest travel posts so it may be a little rough around the edges (if you decide to read it) but you get the point.
Because of its significant tannins, Tannat has some of the highest level of heart healthy antioxidants of any wine. And it’s those tannins that can render the wines tough to drink if not made by the right hands. I’d experienced both ends of the spectrum in Uruguay and could never be sure what I’d get when I cracked open a bottle. Enter Texas Tannat. I still recall my first taste of Texas Tannat at Bending Branch Winery, and was surprised by how tannic the wine wasn’t. How could that be?!
For more on Texas Tannat, including its history in the state and the wine pioneers who were such big believers in it, head on over to my article for the Vintner Project.
While many regard Tempranillo as the signature red wine of Texas, there are more singing the same tune about Tannat. Dr. Bob Young of Bending Branch Winery and John Rivenburgh, one of the initial co-founders of Bending Branch and now the owner of Kerrville Hills Winery, were believers from the beginning. I was able to chat with both men recently for my Vintner Project article and their passion for the grape was quite evident.
To be sure, Dr. Young of Bending Branch Winery is one of the state’s champions of the grape and is responsible for catapulting it into the spotlight. Twenty percent of Bending Branch production is dedicated to Tannat, which has yielded more than fifty awards and counting.
During his time at Bending Branch and beyond, Rivenburgh has worked with Texas Tannat for close to two decades and has farmed it in vineyards around the state with multiple producers. On the growing popularity of Tannat, he shares “It’s been pretty amazing every year. And it’s just getting better and better.”
And other producers are increasingly appreciating what this variety can do in Texas. What’s more, Tannat is the perfect wine for a wide variety of Texas eats including smoky BBQ (that is, REAL BBQ, you know, from Texas), black mole enchiladas, beef fajitas, or a cowboy ribeye. I might even have to try it with chicken fried steak.
Some recent Texas Tannat wines that I’ve absolutely enjoyed include:
Kerrville Hills Winery ‘Rustic Spur’ Tannat
Bending Branch Winery (my 1st Tannat Rosé!)
Ab Astris Winery
Lost Draw Cellars
William Chris Vineyards
There are but a few of the Tannat producers in the state. And if you have any that you’ve tried and loved, I’d love to hear about it.
Cheers to Tannat Day and Texas Tannat!