Weekly Wine Quiz #95: Grape Trivia – Tannat
The Wine Quiz series is not meant to intimidate. The whole idea here is to have fun and learn something new. When answering the questions, it is fully encouraged to use all available sources of information, including Google or any other search engine. There are no embarrassing answers – the most embarrassing thing is not giving it a try…
Welcome to the weekend and your new wine quiz!
We are continuing our grape trivia series, with the focus still on the red grapes, and today’s subject is Tannat.
It is interesting how different the grape stories are. Some grapes, like Bonarda/Charbono, have very convoluted history with changing names and uncertain origins. Some grapes, like Tempranillo, have a page-long list of synonyms, different names they are known under in the different parts of the world and even in the different parts of the same country. The Tannat story is a lot more straightforward. Wikipedia doesn’t list any synonyms for the name Tannat, which is quite rare – most of the grapes have some alternative names listed, and there are no confusions surrounding the Tannat grape.
Tannat originated in the Southwest France, in the area close to Pyrénées. Area surrounding village of Madiran was and still is the main wine growing area for Tannat, but today Tannat is growing in the number of countries in the world (albeit not in the major quantities). In the second half of 1800, Tannat made it to Uruguay, where today it is literally considered the national grape. In addition to Uruguay, the grape is successfully grown in United States – California is increasing its plantings quite a bit, and some other states are experimenting with the grape. Australia, Argentina, South Africa, Brazil, Italy are all also have some plantings of Tannat.
Tannat is a late ripening grape, with the thick black skin. That skin makes the grape resistant to the mildew rot, and also becomes a source of tannins. Tannat wines are generally known to make firmly structured, tannic and powerful wines, which require quite a bit of aging to soften those tannins up – however this is changing nowadays as many winemakers focus on making the Tannat wines more approachable while young. Similar to the other grapes with likewise characteristics (think thick skin/tannins), Tannat has very high level of procyanidins, which according to the Wikipedia are “good for reducing blood pressure, lowering cholesterol and encouraging healthy blood clotting”.
And now, to the quiz!
Q1: Tannat was the reason for one specific winemaking technique to be invented relatively recently. Do you know what technique is that?
a. Malolactic fermentation
c. Carbonic maceration
d. Reverse osmosis
Q2: True or False: Tannat is primarily harvested by hand and not by the machine. Provide an explanation for your answer.
Q3: Name 3 grapes, often used as blending partners when Tannat wines are produced in France
Q4: Wine Spectator calls wines with 90-94 ratings “Outstanding: a wine of superior character and style”. True or False: There are no Tannat-based wines rated as Outstanding by Wine Spectator.
Q5: Tannat ripens at about the same time as Cabernet Sauvignon. Assuming you have Tannat and Cabernet Sauvignon which are both slightly underripe, which grape would you make the better wine from, Tannat or Cabernet Sauvignon? Why?
Bonus: Have you ever had any Tannat wines? What do you think of them?
Good luck, enjoy the quiz and your weekend! Cheers!