Sunday, 14 April 2013

2005 Pepper Tree Grand Reserve Tannat - Top Notch? - Think Not!

I bought a six pack of the 2005 Pepper Tree Grand Reserve Tannat several years ago and set it in the cellar.  I just opened my first bottle yesterday.  I was making a chirizo and chickpea soup with lots of flavor including chili, paprika, smoked paprika, mushrooms, black olives, lentils and rocket lettuce.  I just wasn't sure what wine to serve with this soup.  And knowing there would be some left over to go with lasagna this evening and having already matched up some nice Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon wines to go with the lasagna previously, I decided to give this wine a try with both the soup and lasagna.

The 2005 Pepper Tree Grand Reserve Tannat comes from Wrattonbully, a great wine region for Cabernet Sauvignon and some other fine wines.  When my wife first tried this wine at the cellar door several years ago, her reaction was "I can't describe this wine, but I love what it does to my mouth!"  Maybe that was all the description necessary.

When opening the bottle yesterday, and trying my first sip, I noticed the wine to be quite lively, almost fizzy, like a weak sparkling wine on my palate.  It also had large tannins and was a bit gritty.  I was expecting this wine to provide a 'punch in the mouth' in terms of flavors, but it did not.  The fruit was lively enough and it tasted of berries, but more like raspberries and a bit weak overall.  I searched hard for secondary flavors and only found the smallest trace of chocolate.

It has an interesting mouth feel, being high in tannins and with the fizzy feeling going on.  This settled down the second day the bottle was open and while it was still gritty, it was smoother and less active on my palate.  However, this wine is a disappointment overall.  It just lacks any type of finesse or complexity.  The berry taste is flat and the secondary characteristics (except for that trace of chocolate) missing.  To self-categorize this wine as a 'Grand Reserve' seems almost deceptive.  And coming from Wrattonbully, I was expecting better.

I have had a recent love affair with secondary red grapes, including my affection for Grenache, Tempranillo, and Malbec, but this wine does nothing to put a Tannat in that group.  This is the only Tannat I have ever drank, so I am not sure if the limitations are in the grape itself or the wine making process for this particular brand and vintage.  I need to try a few more Tannats to find out.

Looking back, I thought this might be an interesting and different wine to occasionally serve up, but I was wrong.  Fortunately, I have a leftover glass of the 2007 McWilliams Mount Pleasant Maurice O'Shea Shiraz to go with my lasagna tonight and I just got the call for dinner, so will enjoy that instead of the Pepper Tree Tannat.  It is not a perfect match, but will have to do.

Steve Shipley
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  1. Very glad to hear you will try some other Tannats before making a judgement. There are many excellent Tannats being produced in Uruguay, where it is the signature varietal. Tannat is originally from France but in Uruguay it's generally softer and more velvety than its French counterpart. Like any varietal it's essential to reach an excellent level of ripeness and to have great winemaking. My women winemakers at Artesana really know how to handle Tannat and can make wines that are big and bold, yet elegant and complex. Hope you'll try one.

    1. Leslie,

      Thanks for the feedback and lead on a good Tannat. One data point from Australia should not be a mark on an otherwise grape of great potential, so will try a few more.