“Organic Tannat is a red-wine grape originating in the Madiran region of France, but now important as grown in Uruguay, where it is that nation’s signature wine grape; in its home region, it continues to be grown, but those wines are not major players on the international scene. Tannat is generally considered one of the dozen and a half or so of world-class red-wine grapes (those in boldface in the dropdown varietals lists near the top of the page). Other regions are beginning to experiment with Tannat, both in South America and in the U.S., but Uruguay remains the chief source. In the U.S., Texas is emerging as a hotbed of Tannat activity, and Virginia is showing some stirrings, too; California, of course, also has entries.
The very name of the organic grape means “tannin”, and the wines are typically very dark and, yes, tannic (owing mainly to the unusually thick skins and high seed count of Tannat grapes). When made in the Madiran, Tannat is commonly blended with other wines to soften its tannic astringency. More recently, vintners there have experimented with using more oak for softening, and more recently yet, with “micro-oxygenation”, the use of oxygen aeration during the fermentation process. Another change in the Madiran has been the replacement of older Tannat vines with newer clones that are intended to be more appealing on the international scene, meaning that they produce softer wines of higher alcohol content. Meanwhile, the Uruguayan vines are still mostly the older, original clones brought over from France, so we have the ironic situation of the New World plantings being the older, more traditional clones while the Old World plantings are less distinctively varietal and more “internationalized” (read “less characterful”).
The Uruguayan climate also seems especially favorable to the Organic Tannat wine, which ripens better and, though of the older clones, produces organic wines more accessible than the monsters old Madiran bottlings tended to be. Nevertheless, “progress” (meaning saleability) is hard to resist, and many Uruguayan vintners are now planting the newer Madiran clones to better appeal to mass international tastes. It is thus helpful, with Uruguayan Tannats, to know whether the winemaker is using older or newer vines.
In general, Tannat wines typically taste of dark red fruit, raspberry usually being mentioned in descriptions, though blueberry is also cited, especially for the Uruguayan types.
Owing to its high tannin levels, Tannat is sometimes touted (even above red wines in general) for supposed health benefits, the longevity of Madiran residents occasionally being cited in “evidence”. It is less clear what reliable medical sources believe.
Factoid: Tannat is associated with the Madiran region of France, but may actually have arisen in the Basque country just the other side of the Pyrenees Mountains from Madiran.” – That Useful Wine Site.com