Tannat is an old red wine variety originating in south-west France. It is productive, with excellent fruit quality, particularly with respect to color. Berries have thick skins and are unlikely to rot. Tannat’s good productivity and fruit quality, even under hot climate conditions, makes it an appealing choice for growers in warm climate regions. It is suited for varietal wines and can contribute color and flavor to red blends.
Origins and History
Tannat has been recognized since the 18th century, likely originating in south-west France. The name is thought to refer to the dark color or high tannin content of the berries (Robinson, 2012). Currently it is most widely grown in France and Uruguay, with relatively modest plantings in the USA.
According to Pl@ntgrape, Tannat can be identified based on the following traits. Young shoot tips have a very high density of prostrate hairs, and young leaves are reddish with bronze spots. Adult leaves are dark green, pentagonal, and entire or with three to five lobes, with an elongated central lobe. The petiolar sinus can be slightly open or closed, the leaf margins have short teeth with straight sides. Leaf veins have a moderate anthocyanin coloration, a revolute blistered leaf blade, sometimes undulate between the main veins, and on the lower side of the leaves, a medium density of prostrate hairs. Berries are round.
According to Pl@ntgrape, Tannat should be “long pruned”, although Verdegaal (2009) and Wolpert (unpublished) found it productive on spurs. However, Verdegaal reported Tannat was “very vigorous”, whereas Wolpert found the growth to be “moderately low”. Diferences in vigor might have resulted from the different selections or “clones” used in the two trials. Verdegaal planted Tannat FPS 1, whereas Wolpert planted Tannat ENTAV-INRA 474. Both people reported good yields and fruit quality.
Tannat is generally considered vigorous, but a trial in Parlier reported “moderately weak” vegetative growth. Trellising with foliage support wires might be helpful in either case. Verdegaal (2009) opined that it was a “grower friendly” grape, though it was possibly “drought sensitive”.
Tannat performed well in several trials in the San Joaquin Valley. Paul Verdegaal (2009) reported that Tannat in Lodi had very intense red color, and could be used to enhance the flavor of blended wines. James Wolpert found that Tannat grown in Parlier had exceptional anthocyanin and tannin content (Tables 2, 3), and good pH and titratable acidity (TA).
Pl@ntgrape. Catalogue of grapevines cultivated in France. 2022. https://plantgrape.plantnet-project.org/en/
Verdegaal, P. 2009. Variety Observation Trial. https://ucanr.edu/sites/CE_San_Joaquin/files/35897.pdf
Robinson, J., J. Harding, J. Vouillamoz. 2012. Wine Grapes. HarperCollins, New York