On the Trail

The Modern Makings of Madiran

Keith Mabry

In France's Southwest corner, approaching the Spanish border and the Pyrenees in the distance, sits the winemaking region of Madiran; a region best known for producing wines with jaw-breaking tannic structure. While Madiran is far from a household name, producer Alain Brumont is one of the region's few superstars. In 1979, he inherited his father's estate, Chateau Bouscassé, and—with little experience in the wine industry—he quickly educated himself and began transforming the landscape of Madiran. Now one of the largest and most important producers in the region, he has four working properties each distinctive in its own right. Bouscassé represents the most open and polished wine from Alain's holdings and it's meant to reflect the history of the region, made in the style of the 18th century heyday of Madiran. The wine is a blend of Tannat, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc from vines ranging from twenty to a hundred years old. Full of lush black cherry and blackberry fruit and loads of graphite minerality, you'll feel the awesome power of Madiran and taste the history of the region; one that dates back to the 11th century when Benedictine monks first settled the region and planted the original vineyards.

Alain Brumont revolutionized the region of Madiran by raising the accessibility of the Tannat grape through his strict selection of fruit and winemaking practices. His esteem among wine critics, winemakers, and sommeliers throughout the world comes from his early recognition of Tannat's potential and his tireless work as an ambassador for Madiran around the globe. Where others saw nothing but table wine, he foresaw a vision of greatness. Mandarin, and Tannat in general, had been previously criticized for its rusticity, but Brumont changed all that with his stunning Bouscassé releases. While Brumont has gone on to purchase other estates, including Château Montus, Bouscassé is his original property and it shows the classic nature of the region with its flavors of melted licorice, menthol, black currants, roasted plums and cocoa husks. It also captures the essential velvety structure of the wines which usually requires years of bottle age to obtain. The outstanding 2010 vintage, which we currently have in stock, has a little head start on age if you will, but the plushness is so inviting, almost like a velvet painting. It draws you in for a closer look and you can't help but touch it. It will draw you in for another taste as each layer unfolds with air, giving way to more character and that beautiful textured feeling. Brumont was once quoted as saying: "My philosophy is primarily governed by a series of uncompromising choices, where the smallest detail can become all-important." It's that incredible dedication to detail that helped Brumont put Madiran on the map as region capable of much, much more than tannic table wine. The 2010 Château Bouscassé is simply more evidence of that potential. 

-Keith Mabry