A red-wine grape which probably originated in the Basque region and which is now the dominant grape of Madiran in south-west France. It derives its name from its naturally high tannin levels. It is thick-skinned and produces a deeply coloured, well-structured wine. Outside France it is predominantly found in South America, particularly in Uruguay but also in Brazil, Bolivia, Peru and northern Argentina. It is also found in the region of Puglia in Italy.


The wine is generally tough and austere in youth but with ageing the tannins soften and round out and the wine develops nuances of spice, coffee, cocoa and vanilla. It can be used very effectively as a blending grape, particularly with Cabernet Sauvignon or Cabernet Franc. The wine is dense, dark and tannic with typical flavours of blackberry, raspberry and spice. It matches well with grilled and barbequed red meat, blue cheese and parmesan cheese.