There have been vineyards in Madiran or Vic-Bilh (to give its original dialect name) since the 3rd century and, in th...Read more...
Food Pairings for Berthoumieu Pacherenc Sec VV
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' and foremost amongst them is Didier Barré whose achievements at Domaine Berthoumieu have harvested many a heartbeat in the Guide Hachette. The Tannat tannin levels would test the tusks of any taster, and invention being the mother of necessity has led to the practice of micro-oxygenation via a microbules machine. This device injects tiny bubbles of oxygen into the wine after the fermentation; the idea being that the normal method of racking off the lees disturbs the wine too much, whereas this gentler method allows slow aeration leading to wines of greater suppleness. There are several fine growers in Madiran at the moment and Didier Barré ranks in the first echelon. These wines are perfect expressions of the notion of terroir - they are true to themselves, uncompromising and will develop in their own time. He even has a few rows of gnarled and knobbly 100 year old + Tannat vines. The local dialect uses the word Pacherenc - derived from paishet for "posts in a row." This refers to the modern method of planting vineyards in regular rows, using a post to support each vine. Vic Bilh is the name for the local hills that are part the Pyrenees foothills, along the Adour River south of Armagnac. The Pacherenc sec (made from a blend of Gros Manseng, Courbu & Petit Manseng) gets better every year, punchy with acidity and bags of orchard fruit flavour. This is from old vines (up to 50 years old) half fermented in tank and half in new oak. Batonnage is for 8 months. This is a big, generous wine: quite golden with a nose of orchard fruits burnished by the sun, conjuring half misty / half sunny early autumn afternoons. The wine slides around the tongue and fills the mouth with pear william and yellow plum flavours, ginger and angelica (tastes as if there is quite a lot of lees contact) and is rounded off by a lambent vanillin texture. You'd want food - grilled salmon with fennel or some juicy scallops perhaps - because it has whopping weight, but it's an excellent wine.
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