Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh
These white wines, made in the exact same 3,000-acre geographical area that Madiran makes their wines in, are rather obscure but nonetheless quite good. Dry wines, sparkling wines, and sweet wines are all produced. Dry wines made here are called Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh Sec.
Pacherenc was split from Madiran originally in 1948, when the two appellations were created. Madiran quickly became the more famous of the two, while Pacherenc slid into obscurity. But recently there has been a revival in white plantings in the region.
Climate and Viticulture
Obviously, Pacherenc has the same climate as Madiran does: hilly, with clay and limestone soils. The weather tends to be Mediterranean, with very hot summers.
Petite Courbu and Petite Manseng are the two grapes that together must make up at least 60% of the blends, but no more than 80%. Interesting local grape Arrufiat, Gros Manseng, and Sauvignon Blanc are the other grapes allowed, but local regulations limit Sauvignon to 10% of the blends.
Three producers are notable here, all of which also make good red wine in Madiran.
- Château Bouscassé: This producer and Château Montus are both owned by a well-known local winemaker, Alain Brumont. Bouscassé has a much larger range of whites than Montus does. Jardins de Bouscassé is a fresh, exotically flavored dry example of Petite Courbu. The rarely seen sweet wines are named for the months in which their grapes are harvested: the Vendémiaire, October, the more exotic, rich Brumaire, November, and the ultra-sweet Frimaire, December.
- Château Laffitte-Teston: This producer's Ericka cuvée is one of the best dry wines in Pacherenc, with oaky, floral, bittersweet aromas. The Rêve de Automne is bready, rich, and a great example of sweet Manseng.
- Château Montus: Montus' white wine, made mainly from Petite Courbu, shows the potential of both the grape and the appellation with creamy, rich, but dry flavors of yellow fruit.
Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh wine is produced from the same geographical territory as Madiran wine, making the two sister appellations of sorts.