Madiran & Pacherenc Red Wine

There have been vineyards in Madiran or Vic-Bilh (to give its original dialect name) since the 3rd century and, in the Middle Ages, pilgrims en route for Santiago de Compostela appreciated the wines. Pacherenc may be made from any one of a variety of grapes: arrufiac (or arrufiat or ruffiac) is traditional, although many growers are turning to gros and petit manseng and even a little sauvignon. Dry, off dry or sweet, these wines are unusual and quite distinct from Jurançon with flavours of spiced bread and mint. In Madiran the traditional grape variety is Tannat, its very name suggestive of rustic astringency, and it constitutes anything between 40 and 60 per cent of the blend with the Cabernets and a little Fer (locally called Pinenc) making up the remainder. The soil in Madiran is endowed with deposits of iron and magnesium and is so compacted that neither rain nor vines can easily penetrate – these are dark, intense, minerally wines. As with Jurançon (q.v.) a group of young wine makers have worked hard to promote the identity of their wines. These growers are known locally as “Les Jeunes Mousquetaires”.


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