Tannat is never referred to as a "light and subtle" grape variety! What Tannat brings to the party is muscle, the serious strong type that no one messes with or even makes eye contact with.
The name Tannat should tell you enough, resembling the word to tannic, the word used to describe dryness in wine.
Tannat grapes are extremely tannic due to their thick skins and need a lot of softening to make them drinkable rather than keep them in a cellar for 20 years. The use of new world wine making techniques, such as micro-oxygenation to bring the fruit flavour forward, have been perfected to tame the beast and super wines are being produced that are drinkable on release.
Very high in polyphenols which are considered antioxidants so could be seen as healthy!
Madiran in SW France is associated with Tannat where it is the main ingredient.
Red grape, very tannic due to thick skins. Wines can be astringent although blending is common with Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc to soften both tannin and astringency.
Most tannat's are aged in oak although there are some very young versions out there without.
Tannat's produced in Uruguay tend to a bit more rounded than their French cousins due to warmer temperatures.
France - Madiran, Basque Country
USA - California, Virginia
FLAVOURS / TASTES:
Dark red fruit - raspberry, blueberry
Harriague - Uruguay
Moustrou, Moustroun, Bordeleza Belcha
Duck! In SW France it's hard to eat out without encountering duck on every menu - several times. Duck is one of the meats of Gascony which also happens to be Tannat country.
The astringency and tannin of Tannat cuts through the fat in duck making a perfect pairing. Think duck Confit and polenta with a glass of Madiran.
Pork belly, sausages, hearty game stews.
Whatever you choose to drink with a regular Tannat you must bare in mind that it should be bold or fatty - enough not to allow the wine to over power it, just to work with it.
Tannat will also work with bold meats and charred meats such as Wild Boar, Venison and other game.
Strong cheese such as Parmesan and even dark chocolate will pair well depending on the level of tannin.