The Okanagan’s first Tannat is released
by John Schreiner
British Columbia’s first red wine from the old French varietal, Tannat, has just been released by Twisted Tree Estate Winery in Osoyoos.
Chances are that you have never head of Tannat unless you follow the wines of Uruguay. It is the flagship red variety there. The Uruguayans are just gaining recognition for variety and that is probably a good thing for Twisted Tree. Pioneering an unfamiliar variety could be a lonely experience otherwise.
Twisted Tree has released 260 cases, reasonably priced at $27.90. The wine is not yet up for purchase on the winery’s website as this is being written. Direct from the winery is the easiest way to get this unique Okanagan wine. I expect that some will be released through private wine stores (also listed on the winery website). It is a wine worth buying.
As you could find out yourself by consulting Wikipedia (let me save you the time), Tannat is cultivated in the Madiran appellation in southwestern France – the French Basque country. Because the wines can be rather tannic, it has traditionally been used by the French in red and rosé blends. In 1990, a winemaker in Madiran applied a new technique called micro-oxygenation during fermentation, successfully softening the hard tannins.
(Micro-ox, as the winemakers term it, involves bubbling fine streams of oxygen through the fermenting wine. The technique is fairly common now.)
Wines from the Madiran appellation are not well known outside France. And until recently, that was also true of wines from Uruguay. The vine was introduced to Uruguay in 1870 by a Basque French immigrant, Pascual Harriague. The variety is also known in Uruguay as Harriague.
The Uruguayan wine industry is only three times the size of the British Columbia industry. Neither are giants in volume terms but Uruguay has perhaps a tighter varietal focus. Today, Tannat accounts for 40% of that country’s wine production. One Uruguayan winemaker was quoted in a recent news article as saying that Tannat “is opening doors for us.” For More From Schreiner visit: John Schreiner’s Blog