Suburban Fracas 2020 Tannat – A Story Greater Than The Wine

Posted on


I usually write about wines that are very good wines, easy to call them an A or B+ grades. This article is about a wine which caught my attention as “sugar free” and sold by WineShop at Home. A friend of mine, Karen, sent me the release information on their wines and it got me thinking about how much sugar is in the wines I drink. Trying to minimize my sugar intake, curiosity got the best of me, and decided to purchase three bottles of the wine. Last evening opened the 2020 Suburban Fracas Tannat.

Tannat Grape Background

Tannat is a thick-skinned grape (blue to black in color) which produces deep, colored big, bold and tannic wines. Interestingly, Tannat has some of the highest levels of polyphenols (antioxidants) of all red wines save for Sagrantino. This is a little known fact for wine drinkers.  It is now known as the national grape in Uruguay. Only 2% of the world production is in the United States. Tannat’s natural home is found near the Pyrenees in southwest France in the Basque region. The Lodi and Sierra Foothill regions are producing some of the best Tannat wines due to similar weather and soil conditions. The state of Virginia is also a key area for Tannat. In the past, Tannat needed years of bottle time to “soften up” but with the advances in viticulture and techniques in winemaking, Tannat is easier to consume earlier. Key flavors of classical Tannat are dark red and black fruits, chocolate, coffee and smoke along with acidity and strong tannins.  The key trait of Tannat is it’s very high tannin levels. Thus historically, it has long been known as a blending wine. Tannat has 4,000 mg of polyphenols more than twice the amount of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.  Only the Sagrantino wine has more. The point is that these grape polyphenols contain antioxidants.

The Bigger Issue – Food Nutritional Labels on Wine

Wine and other alcoholic beverages have not been required to have nutritional labels on their products, like grocery items. There is a movement underfoot to have the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), who has the authority over these matters, consider making it mandatory. This would be helpful for the consumer who may have dietary restrictions say for example sugar intake. Today it is optional and 99% of the wineries do not put this information on the bottle. While the consumers may benefit, the wineries are hesitate to “tell all” about what goes into the wine in detail such as sulfur dioxide, grape concentrate, Omega Purple, etc.

However being transparent may actually increase sales for some wineries. Consumers think wine has a lot of sugar. Wines in reality don’t have a lot of sugar as the sugar from the grapes, the juice ferments into alcohol leaving very little sugar in the wine! For example one of my favorite Chardonnay’s has only .1% sugar in the bottle. Now how many grams that translate to is unknown to me. So if wineries had this label detail, they may find another market segment? The E.U. at the end of 2023 will require this labeling information on their wines with QR codes that link to nutrition and ingredient lists for wines being imported to the USA.

As a consumer this cannot happen fast enough.

 Suburban Fracas 2020 Tannat

(Photo ©Michael Kelly)

Opened this bottle last evening with mixed expectations. How would a “sugar free” wine taste? Like watered down wine? How does one get aromas on the nose of berries without sugar/sweetness?  To say I was surprised is an understatement. First on the eyes, this Tannat had a radiant dark encompassing purple color with medium viscosity. On the nose, some undistinguished aromas wafted upward, but difficult to define. However once in the palate, it was a true Tannat, with plum, blueberry and cherry. Secondary flavors of oak were also present. In the mouth this was a full body, strong and bold Tannat wine, similar to many others. On the finish, the gripping tannins coated the teeth and mouth like a Sumo wrestler. Make no mistake, this was a Tannat varietal.  The wine has received the following awards:

95 Points, Platinum – 2021 Las Vegas Global Wine Awards

Silver – 2021 Lone Star International Wine Competition

Silver – 2022 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition

It sells for $24/bottle and all things considered, I gave this wine a rating between a B and B- from a flavor profile and an “A” for lack of sugar and high in antioxidants.

The Food and Wine Pairing

(Photo ©Michael Kelly)

Paired last evening with a flank steak marinated in Chaka and seared on a cast iron skillet. Accompanied with sautéed mushrooms and broccoli, brown rice and a fresh garden salad. The garden salad had iceberg lettuce, Pepita seeds, green onions and tomatoes with a Japanese Miso dressing from Red Shell. The food and wine pairing was very good and enjoyable.




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s