Madiran is a lesser known wine region in Gascony in the South West of France and Tannat is the big red grape here. In this Torus, Tannat accounts for 50% while the two Cabernets, Sauvignon and Franc, account for the rest.
With freshness and depth from its terroir, it is a “perfect match for the local gastronomy” which features specialities such as Magret de Canard and Cassoulet, “foods that demand a wine of serious character and structure”. The Tannat provides all that plus tannins (of course!). When I first came across this grape I was told it was a man’s grape! Things have changed since then if this very approachable Torus is anything to go by.
It is dark ruby, lighter at the rim, legs slow to clear. Blackcurrant to the fore in the rather intense aromas. Rich and powerful is the first impression, great depth and concentration, fresh and full of flavour, good acidity too, and tannins as you'd expect from the name of the grape. Fruit and acidity well balanced all the way through to the soft finish. Highly Recommended.
The man’s grape tag may well be passé at this stage. Even six years ago I found a delicious rosé, with a strawberry nose, fruity and dry, entirely loveable and gluggable. Ten per cent Cab Sauv and 10% Cab Franc had been added to the Tannat and the winemakers of Irouleguy ended up with an award winning gem.
Research has shown too that the grape “has record levels of procyanidins, the heart-friendly chemical in red wine”. Grapes and Wines also says that Tannat reds have been and are being improved by modern wine-making methods (which include a tannin-softening technique). So not as tough as they were in the old days!
St Chinian, just 20 miles from the Med, is in the Languedoc-Roussillon wine region, close to the other AOCs of Minervois and Faugeres. Tabatau, in Occitan, means child of the tobacconist. Winemaker Bruno Gracia’s grandfather was the village tobacconist, hence the unusual name for the winery. The blend for the 2014 is Syrah (50%), Grenache (40) and Carignan (10).
It is a ruby colour. There are red fruit aromas, moderate intensity. All that lovely red fruit, some spice too and silky smooth tannins (with just a little bite) combine on the palate. Medium bodied, with a nice balance between fruit and acidity, and Highly Recommended.