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Say Hello to Tardif, France’s New (Old) Wine Variety

Tardif red wine grape illustration ampelography antique
An ancient vineyard in South West, France with pre-phylloxera vines reveals a new (old) variety with similarities to Syrah.

A vine dating back to the 1830s has been determined to be the once thought-to-be-extinct Tardif. What is interesting about Tardif is that it contains high levels of rotundone, making it similar to Syrah, Petite Sirah, and Mourvèdre. Rotundone is a compound responsible for Syrah’s rich black peppery aromas. Tardif is intriguing because it’s slow to ripen – a classic sign of a high-quality grape variety. For these reasons, the official catalog of permitted varieties in France will be adding Tardif to the list.

“Tardif is intriguing because it’s slow to ripen – a classic sign of a high-quality grape variety.”

For those who want to be first to taste it, the variety will likely be first available to taste in 2020 from the Saint-Mont appellation in South West, France by Plaimont, a regional cooperative that produces 90% of the appellation’s wines. We can all thank Nadine Raymond, Plaimont’s technical director, for Tardif’s reintroduction. Raymond is the winemaker who makes wines from Plaimont’s experimental vineyard (which is where Tardif was first propagated from the original mother vine).

A Few More Details

  • Tardif was first discovered in 1999 in the Pédebernade vineyard, a sandy vineyard that’s been farmed by the same family for eight generations.
  • Jean-Paul Houbart was the first to discover the vine, along with André Dubosc, who, for the last 25 years, have uncovered more than 30 lost varieties in South West, France, including Manseng Noir.
  • Tardif will likely produce a full-bodied red wine, based on its physiology.

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AboutMadeline Puckette

James Beard Award-winning author and Wine Communicator of the Year. I co-founded Wine Folly to help people learn about wine. @WineFolly