Our Wines: 2013 Tannat

Our Tannat takes full advantage of the power and structure inherent to this lesser known grape, native to the South of France. We employ extended maceration and aging for 17 months, half in new French oak. The result is dark and brooding, perfect for the cellar and those times that call for a red wine that is full bodied.


And so begins our first hint of how our 2013 Tannat fits into our lineup. Tannat, ours included, is as dark, inky, and rich a grape as grown here in Virginia. Patience is the key to softening what can be a very tannic wine. Our winemaker and partner, Michael Shaps, apparently knows his way around this grape as he just won Governor’s Cup Gold and was placed in the Governor’s case for his 2012 Tannat.


So confident are we in his prowess that we are planting 3 new acres of Tannat here at Upper Shirley despite the notorious cold tender qualities of this variety. Cold tender is the term we grape growers use to describe vines that cannot take subzero temperatures without sustaining major damage. This trait makes growing Tannat in Virginia somewhat of an excise in hope over experience as our last 2 winters have both had extreme cold events. Here at US we have been fortunate (perhaps due the heat retention of the James River) to bounce off of a 1 degree low each of the last 2 years. Our Gordonsville vineyard has not been that lucky and lost much of its Tannat last year to a negative 5 degree night.


We have a whole spring and summer to forget Mother Nature’s winter tricks: Arctic oscillation, Polar vortex, and Omega block. Let’s drink!

Block 3 of USV, where we will plant 2 of the 3+ acres of Tannat going in next month. Barely visible are the 400 orange flags marking the trellis post’s locations.

Block 3 of USV, where we will plant 2 of the 3+ acres of Tannat going in next month. Barely visible are the 400 orange flags marking the trellis post’s locations.