Here is another article about a region dear to my heart, the Southwest of France. This time we are going to Madiran.
Madiran, like most southwestern French appellations, is rather unknown or let's say undiscovered. Part of the Gascony area, Madiran wines are produced around the village of the same name located about 47 kilometers northeast of Pau and 27 kms southeast of Aire-sur-l'Adour, nestled in a little valley surrounded by gentle rolling hills preceding the foothills of the Pyrénées.
About 10 kms apart from each other yet sharing the same area, AOC Madiran is the red twin sister of an other appellation called Pacherenc-du-Vic-Bihl producing only whites.
Madiran appellation produces slightly rustic, earthy, somewhat esoteric, fairly rich and tannic reds made with at least 40% Tannat, the predominant and indigenous grape variety which contributes to the fame, the uniqueness and the particular characteristic of Madiran wines. Tannat is often blended with Cabernet Franc (locally known as "Bouchy" or "Bouchet" in the rest of "Southwest of France" region), Cabernet Sauvignon, Courbu Noir (also known as "Madiran"), "Fer Servadou" (also locally known as "Pinenc") and "Cot" (worldly known as Malbec or "Auxerrois" in Cahors). Due to its tannic structure, Tannat has often been blended to make it more approachable. However, most of the best and most authentic Madiran wines are made with 100% Tannat, and usually express flavors of black fruits, earth, spices with toasted hints due to oak ageing and a fairly present tannic structure in the finish, which generally contributes to good ageing potential (between 4 to 8 years in general, and more for the best vintage).
FYI: Tannat, a typical and indigenous grape variety from the Pyrénées and more especially the Basque country, was imported to Uruguay in the 19th century by the basque settlers. It has now become the national grape variety of Uruguay, like: Malbec for Argentina, Carmenère for Chile, Shiraz for Australia, Pinotage for South Africa,etc... Tannat is also known in Uruguay as "Harriague", named after Pascual Harriague, one of the settlers who introduced it in the country. In France, in addition to Madiran, Tannat is also produced in the region of Irouléguy, Tursan and Béarn.
Also crafted in the Madiran region, Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh Sec produces dry and sweet whites predominantly made with a blend of two local and indigenous grape varieties including "Petit Courbu" (another traditional Gascon's grape variety and a variation of the "Courbu Noir") and "Petit Manseng" (the sister grape of Gros Manseng, both indigenous from Gascony and more especially used in the Jurançon appellation to produce dry and sweet whites). Pacherenc du Vic-Bihl Sec wines are usually dry and tangy yet ample, intriguing and quite rich with a deep yellow color with somewhat golden apple, yellow peach, pear, honeysuckle, honey and fresh hay aromas and flavors. They can also be sweet depending on the vintage and sold under Pacherenc du Vic-Bihl (without the "sec" meaning "dry" in the name). In any cases, the local Courbu and Petit Manseng must make up at least 60% but not exceed 80% of the blend, which also can include "Arrufiac" (or Ruffiac) and Sauvignon Blanc (10% max).
Let's go back to the wine of the day:
Chateau Peyros is the southernmost property of the Madiran Appellation. It takes its name from a local Gascogny word which means "rocky location" or "stony place".
Combined with their exceptional terroir and ideal growing conditions, the main objective of Chateau Peyros is to apply the most natural and adapted wine making methods to their vineyard and cellar to protect the earth and its Biodiversity and to maximize the quality of their wines.
Most of their wines are not filtered to avoid imparting taste and flavors, therefore, any natural deposits and slight sedimentation in the bottle are a guarantee of the wine's authenticity and truthful, unique expression. A light decantation is suggested to fully appreciate this Tannat based wine.
2003 Chateau Peyros Madiran Vieilles Vignes Southwest of France
Suggested retail price $16-$19
Distributed by Baron François in NYC
This full-bodied wine is a blend of 60% Tannat and 40% Cabernet Franc from 40-plus year-old vines. Deep purple in the glass, initial aromas of dark plum, blackberry and cedar unfold to reveal layers of peppermint and coffee. Fully ripe dark fruit and black berry flavors coat the palate along with notes of bitter chocolate and spice, sustained by a generous acidity and firm tannins into a long, structured finish. An earthy, slightly rustic red to be enjoyed with hearty fare; think beef, lamb and game.
LeDom du Vin
Find more info about this wine at www.baronfrancois.com
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