Madiran – an interesting alternative to Bordeaux!

Author and tasting notes by Jane Nisbet Huseby

In the south-west of France, tucked into the rolling landscape of Gascony,  lies Madiran AOC well-known for its structured and deep-coloured red wines made predominantly from the Tannat grape.  Tannat can prove difficult to tame due to its relatively robust and abundant tannins, and traditionally these wines needed substantial bottle ageing before they were any where near ready to drink.  However, times have changed, and thanks to  a combination of modern and innovative winemaking, better understanding of terroir, and the benefits of climate change, today´s red wines of Madiran AOC are often more approachable, bursting with rich black fruit and structured yet ripe rounded tannins 

Alain Brumont – one of the most important winemakers in Madiran

Alain Brumont has been acknowledged as one of the most important winemakers of the region focussing on reviving the Tannat grape variety and in the process has boosted the reputation of the Madiran AOC.  After having worked in Bordeaux, Alain returned to Madiran in 1979 and is now owner of Château Montus and Château Bouscassé.  Alain has focussed on selecting the best terroirs which consists mainly of a collection of fine yellow and white clays mixed with limestone, or red clay.  Each soil types and exposure is carefully selected according to the varieties planted including Tannat, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc.  

Did you know…….

Madiran AOC

Madiran is a small appellation (1,2703 ha in 2008) in south-west France, approx. 2 hours drive south of Bordeaux and nestled towards the foothills of the Pyrenees. By law, Madiran wine must have 60 – 80% Tannat grapes in the blend and the remainder can be made from Bordeaux grapes including Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc.  Tannat is also famous from Uruguay in South America where the warmer growing season and higher temperatures ripen the robust tannins more effectively.

Why you should try the wines of Madiran…..

Made using predominantly Tannat grapes but with the support of Bordeaux grape varieties, Madiran can offer a good (and relatively cheaper) alternative to moderately-priced Bordeaux wines and has a similar ageing potential.  

Here is one wine which is really worth trying:

Château Bouscassé 2016, Madiran, France

VMP: 3221801 (Bestillingsutvalget)

Price: 279,00 kr

(producer: Alain Brumont)

Tasting note:

Deep ruby.  Aromas of savoury blackberries, blackcurrants, spice and cedar.  On the palate, fresh acidity, with rich black fruit, prunes, liquorice, and firm but rounded and well-structured tannins.  Moderately long finish.  13.5% abv. Shows some similarities to Bordeaux left bank, but with darker fruit and more chewy (but ripe) tannins. 

Very well made and good value for money.  This is a great BBQ wine which is drinking well now but the fresh acidity and very good concentration of fruit suggest this wine has the potential to age possibly 8 – 10 years. 

Score: 92 pts. 

winemaking: 60% Tannat, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Cabernet Franc. Aged in 30 – 50% new oak. 

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