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Madiran


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One of the premier red wine appellations of the Southwest, Madiran is on a par with Bergerac and Cahors in terms of the quality of its wines. Wine labeled Madiran is required to be red. Though Madiran's wines have never been widely renowned due to their heavy, unusual flavors, they are currently gaining in popularity. Also, new technology is helping to bring the naturally high concentration of the Tannat grape to a more reasonable level.

Madiran includes 3,000 acres of vineyards that are spread across three departéments; the eponymous village of Madiran is the source of many of the wines. Approximately a million cases of wine are being made each year here. Tannat is the primary grape, although some others are used.

History

Madiran officially received AOC status in 1948. Although the region has had a long history, Madiran never enjoyed the type of popularity that Bordeaux or even some of its neighbors did. Its heyday is in the future, not the past: in recent years, thanks to progress in production techniques and a general trend toward more full-bodied red wines, Madiran is rapidly becoming a more important appellation.

Climate and Viticulture

Madiran's vineyards are located in the foothills of the Pyrenées mountains, and are spread across three adjacent departéments. Almost all the wine produced in the surrounding areas is white. The best vineyards are located on steep hillside slopes with clay and limestone soils and Mediterranean climate conditions. This mountainous climate is perfect for the cultivation of the Tannat grape.

Grape Varieties

The Tannat grape, which is also well-known for its usage in Uruguay, makes its best wines in Madiran. The Southwest has long been considered a stronghold for Tannat, but only recently has Madiran emerged as the area whose winemakers are most capable of cultivating the best flavors of the grape. The best of these wines have delightful earthy richness, bitter aromas of chocolate, truffle, and dark fruit, and great concentration. Other grapes allowed in the region include Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Fer Servadou; these usually are blended in for the purpose of making the wine softer and less overbearing. Although regulations require that the wines must be blends, there have been reports that these rules are not strictly enforced and hence some producers are making varietal Tannat. Generally, these powerful wines are better off aged 5-10 years.

Major Producers

We have selected eight producers who are at the forefront here, whose wines are both high-quality and commonly exported.

Subregions

From the same exact land as Madiran, the Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh appellation makes solely white wines.