Thursday, November 12, 2009
For those not familiar with Tannat (and I'm guessing that's probably 99% of the wine-drinking public, myself included), it's a grape that originated in the Basque country of Spain. It's also the grape that makes up the French AOC of Madiran, which is located next to the Basque country in Spain right along the Pyrenees. Basque settlers brought the grape to Uruguay in the 1800's, where it's become the leading grape. Tannat was first brought to the US by professor Eugene W. Hilgard, who grew it at UC Berkeley. In the 90's, Bonny Doon and Tablas Creek started to use it as a blending grape in some of their wines. It's still pretty rare; as of 2005 there were only 140 acres. California has over 400,000 acres of vines, so that isn't a lot.
This particular wine comes from Camarillo, CA. For those of you not familiar with Los Angeles, that's right outside of Thousand Oaks. Within an hour of Los Angeles. Alonso Family Vineyards is owned by Juan Alonso, who owns the restaurant Le Chene. 14$ at Wine Expo. Initially on opening this wine, I was greeted with what I can only describe as one of the most off-putting aromas I've ever experienced in a wine. It wasn't corked--just seemed very green--so I dumped it into a decanter for a couple of hours and shook it up quite a bit. Eventually, the wine exhibited aromas of licorice, mint, and cassis, which were followed up by fairly sweet fruit, more herbal notes, and a plush texture. Despite the fact that this wine is made from Tannat, it isn't overtly tannic--it's plush and fruity. Not too much of a finish. You know, I really wanted to like this wine. It's local, it's weird, and it's way off the beaten path. It's not bad, but it isn't a good deal, and it isn't that exciting other than the "I'm drinking Tannat! From Los Angeles! WTF?" factor. C-/C