Domaine Berthoumieu, Constance, AOP Madiran, Gers, Occitanie, France, 2015
On AOP Madiran
A still red appellation, overlapping the departments of the Gers, Pyrénées-Atlantique and Haute Pyrénées. Essentially between the mountains of the Pyrenees, and the sea of the Bay of Biscay, it has a mainly maritime climate, but is continental from the far south-west towards the north-east. Soils can be generalised, according to the INAO, into 3 types, by position on a slope:
- top – siliceous soils on coarse rounded pebbles (galets), very stony, hot and dry.
- lower – sandy-clay.
- base – calcareous clay soils over compacted broken sedimentary rock or limestone.
Permitted varieties are tannat >=40% <=60%, cabernet franc (aka bouchy), fer servadou (aka pinenc), and cabernet sauvignon. Minimum ageing of 1 year, commonly in barrique.
Varietal tannat (pronunced tanna), gives a deeply hued, structured wine, high in tannins and fresh acidity, powerful and full bodied, with ageing potential.
Note, for interest, that the white only appellation, Pacherence du Vic-Bilh, is coterminous with Madiran, white Madiran as it were. Permitted varieties are used in a blend, of >=30% arrufiac, courbu blanc, petit manseng, gros manseng, sauvignon blanc and sémillon; and together, the courbu, petit manseng and arrufiac must account for >=60 % of the blend, whilst sauvignon blanc and sémillon must be <=10 %.
This wine: lot No. illegible (below capsule), a tannat dominated blend, with 30% cabernet sauvignon and 10% pinenc, matured for 18 months in a mix of stainless steel, and barrrique of 2-4 years age, coated natural cork closure, 13.5% abv, Hay Wines, £13.50 (02/20)
Consumer tasting note: on the tannic side, so a food wine, typical Madiran tannat, with lots of creamy dark fruit; on the nose black currant and cherry, black liquorice and a touch of green herbs; a full-bodied palate of squashed blackcurrant and black cherry boiled sweets. A medium-long finish.
Drink now – RTD, but will keep for 2-3 years – Wait. Double decant for an hour, which softens the tannins a touch, whilst opening up the slightly reticent nose.
WSET style tasting note
Appearance: clear and bright, deep intensity ruby, showing tears [no sediment].
Nose: clean, medium intensity, developing, with aromas as they come, of indistinct ripe black berries with a lactic-creamy edge, fragrant almost floral quality ripe black currant, candle wax, developing hint of ripe black cherry, black liquorice, an edge of green herbs, warm leaf humus.
Palate: dry, medium (+) acidity, medium (+) ripe tannins, medium (+) alcohol, full body, medium (+) intensity, a smooth texture, with flavours of squashed ripe blackcurrant, touch of black cherry boiled sweets, an edge of green herbs, touch of oak. A medium (+) length, with a clean finish of black fruit pastilles edged with oak.
Quality: good, balanced fresh acidity and firm ripe, verging on high, tannins, with alcohol, harmonious; a decent intensity throughout, with slightly lesser concentration; showing a moderate developing complexity, with evidence of exposure to oak (oak), and time in bottle (leaf humus, wax). Finishes medium-long.
Drinking readiness/ageing potential: drink now, unsuited to further ageing, but will keep for 2-3 years – a sound structure, balanced now, a little tannin heavy, but without the qualities to suggest improvement with further cellaring.