Wednesday, September 12, 2007

WBW #37 : indigenous grape varieties

The theme for WBW 37, hosted by Dr. Vino, is indigenous grape varieties. Selection of an off-beat grape variety and comparison of wines from its ancestral home AND a new home is also highly encouraged.

Tannat, depicted by appellationamerica.com as a wolf man, shall be used as the grape varietal for this WBW discussion. This grape is native to the Madiran AOC in southwestern France where the wines Midiran and Armagnac are produced. In the 19th century, tannat found a new home in South America when wine growers imported this grape to their countries. Today, tannat has flourished in Uruguay and become its ‘noble’ grape.

Although well known for their fierce tannins, tannat wines can provide exceptional value for consumers due to their relative low costs and abilities to age; especially those made by good producers in good years. As for this WBW theme, we shall compare two wines, one from Midiran, France and the other from Colonia, Uruguay.

From France: 2001 Château de Perron

Wine Spectator claimed Château de Perron as one of top valued wines of 2005 and gave it a score of 90 points. It is a blend of 65% Tannat, 20% Cabernet Franc and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon. However, the sad story about Château de Perron is that 2001 is the last vintage. The owner sold his vineyard after a divorce and the new owner chose not to continue it's production. This wine is now extremely difficult to find on the retail market.
ABV: 12.5%. Price paid: $12

Color: Dark purple.

Nose: Initial burst of ripe berry, meat and leather. With air, slight hint of tobacco is also noticed.

Palate: Consistent notes of ripe berry, leather and oak. Tannins initially overpower the fruit even after 6 years in the bottle. It keeps on gaining weight and depth with air and tannins eventually smooth out after 30 minutes or so in the glass.

Body: Medium.

Finish: Medium with grainy and dry tannins. Strong notes of black tea.

From Uruguay: 2000 Los Cerros De San Juan Cuna de Piedra Oak Reserve

Los Cerros de San Juan Wine & Cellar S.A just celebrated its 150 years of wine making in 2005. According to the producer’s website, this 100% tannat wine, Cuna de Piedra is first produced in 1994 to celebrate its 140 years anniversary. This wine is made from mature grapes harvested from 50 and 100 year old vineyards. The company also makes another wine from 100% tannat, Maderos de San Juan Tannat, from younger vines. However, like a lot of wines from Uruguay, the availability for either one of them in U.S. is quite limited.
ABV: 13%. Price paid: $15

Color: Dark ruby approaching purple.

Nose: Primarily blueberry with wet leaf aroma. Hints of toasted oak; giving way to notes of cedar and tar.

Palate: Dark berry, leather, wood and hint of earthiness. Acidity is very lively. The structure is quite robust and the tannins does not overpower the fruit. Good mouth feel.

Body: Medium to full.

Finish: Medium with tart cherry and spicy notes. Hints of chocolate.

Conclusions:
Neither Perron nor Cuna de Piedra is a sipping wine. By themselves, they are very rustic and not particularly enjoyable. Their true color shines through when matched with the proper food. We paired them with grilled rib steak and mushroom and both wines are just marvelous.

These two wines offer great QPR values. Although not elegant, they are big, powerful and further cellaring of 3-5 years may be required to fully integrate all the components. Cuna de Piedra is a more modern wine when compared to Château de Perron. At the time of writing, the Piedra is actually more approachable than the Perron.

Both wines are tested over a 3-day period (vacuum pumped and refrigerated). At the end of the test, Cuna de Piedra holds up really well keeping most of the elements together. The Perron, on the other hand, loses a lot of the fruit on the 3rd day while the tannins and the taste of wood become almost unbearable. One concern for Château de Perron for longer term cellaring is that eventually there may not be enough fruit to support the tannins. Ah, but for this, only time can tell!

7 comments:

Marcus said...

I like all this Tannat talk. Good to read about your take on things with these two mature bottles.

I echo your food comments (I think even more so since I was dealing with much younger wines).

My congratulations for sticking with these for three whole days. That's commitment and planning. Bravo!

Dr. Vino said...

Great job! Bonus points coming your way!

RougeAndBlanc said...

Marcus:
Glad you concur with my observations.

Doc: Thanks for hosting WBW. Much appreciated.

Joe said...

These are totally food wines. I was trying to google Chateau de Perron to see who acquired the property. M. Brumont has been a driving force in Madiran - I wonder if he picked up the property?

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