Vin de France & Grape Varieties


Encyclopedia of French Grape Varieties

{ Red Wine }


Renowned for the quality and abundance of its tannins, from which it takes its name, Tannat comes from the southern Aquitaine region, at the foot of the Pyrenees Mountains.

Tannat does not have any very specific aromas. Like many red wines, its flavors are primarily fruity when young. Blackberry, blackcurrant and red fruit aromas enrich more plant-like notes of white tobacco and, with ageing, hints of wild game and fur.

Wines produced
Tannat is used to make colorful, highly tannic, lively wines, with a clearly acidic character. These dual qualities enable Tannat to make high quality red wines that are well structured and can be aged in the cellar for many years.

Areas planted
This grape variety from Gascony is a mainstay in the vineyards of its region of origin, the Basque Country, as well as Béarn, southern Landes and Gers. It has been adopted by foreign wine growers, namely in South America. In France, production decreased very slightly in the 1980s, but has since been on the rise, with 3,150 hectares grown in 2006.

Budding and ripening
Tannat is a Period II grape, meaning it is considered as a moderately late variety. It buds 4 days after Chasselas, the benchmark variety, and reaches peak ripeness rather late, some 3½ weeks after Chasselas.

Tannat is a rather vigorous grape variety that is usually long pruned. For this reason, it must be trained.

Preferred soils
Tannat, which is highly susceptible to drought, needs soils that can retain water but are nonetheless well drained. Clay-limestone soils thus perfectly meet its needs.

Ideal Climate
Tannat is a rather oceanic variety that needs regular watering; it does not fare well in dry weather. Due to its late ripening, however, it requires rather sunny autumns. Its susceptibility to gray mold also requires little rainfall in the later season, as is the case in the southern Aquitaine region.

Susceptibility to disease and pests
Tannat is susceptible to mites and leafhoppers, and is also somewhat susceptible to gray mold.

Tannat is used only to produce wine.

Distinctive features
Tannat can be recognized by its young leaves, which are reddish with bronze patches. Its adult leaves, however, are dark green, large, pentagonal and whole. At the tips of Tannat's young shoots, there is a dense coat of flat-lying hairs. The leaf blades have three or five lobes, with an elongated central lobe, and a slightly open or closed petiolar sinus. The lobes have teeth that are short with rectilinear sides, and the veins have a moderate amount of anthocyanic pigmentation. The surface of the leaf blade is revolute, bubbled, and sometimes wavy between the main veins. Its lower surface has a moderately dense cover of flat-lying hairs. Finally, Tannat's bunches are large, whereas its berries are small to medium in size.

Clones marketed
The ten approved Tannat clones (specifically named Tannat N) are numbers 398, 399, 472, 473, 474, 475, 717, 794, 944 and 1048. A conservatory of more than 300 clones was planted in Pyrénées-Atlantiques in 1995.

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