There’s a love-hate thing going on between winemakers and the Tannat grape. They love its ability to fend off most anything nature throws at a vineyard, from drought to frost to pests and mold. On the other hand, few have the patience to put up with the wine’s loud, boastful character. Tannat tends to be big, to lash out with tannic fury. Yet over the past 20 years, the acreage in California devoted to the grape has just about tripled – albeit to less than 300 acres. And now Tannat is showing up as a single varietal.

Go Bold

Puma Road’s 2013 Tannat flaunts dark berries on the palate, so it remains a bold wine. Yet there’s a depth to it, as if the broad-shouldered fruits gained a more serious posse – piercing black licorice and fresh cedar, an almost smoky haze of cardamom – all quieted by a hush of vanilla. Leathery tannins still lace through the wine, so it will store and get even better over time. But right now it expresses ripe blackberries and contemplative earthiness in tones so measured you may put the prized Cabernet back into the cabinet.

PUMA ROAD, 281 Alvarado St., Monterey. 747-1911; 32075 River Road, Soledad. 675-3548, pumaroad.com
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