The wines of Madiran and Pacherenc

These tasting notes accompany our in-depth feature on Madiran and Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh. Please also see Regional report: Madiran and Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh.


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white wines

Château Montus, Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh Sec 1999
80% Petit Courbu, 20% Gros Manseng, aged in 600-litre barrels for around one year. Quite a deep, golden colour. Lots of honey and nutty aromas, a Brazil nut fat and lovely sense of opulence. On the palate it has huge concentration, with lots of volume in the mouth, but retaining beautiful apple acidity. A wine that is still for sale. 90/100

Château Montus, Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh Sec 2003
Still a deep, golden hue, but not so dark. More lifted, floral and pineapple tones, and a real exotic ripeness. The fruit has real opulence and sweetness on the mid-palate, and delicious ripe pear acidity that is still pithy and grapefruity. 89/100

Château Montus, Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh Sec 2005
Deep golden colour again, with a nutty, straw-like aroma. Plenty of slightly raw wood too, with vanilla and a touch of resinous quality. On the palate that thrilling orange and lemon zest freshness, with rich mouth-feel. 90/100, but once it settles down a little.

Château Montus, Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh Sec 2006
I felt this was a touched corked but there was no opportunity to request a second bottle. Something just added a little off note, the palate just very slightly stripped, but still with that nice combination of fat and lemon freshens. Quite difficult to judge, but a good wine in there.

Château Montus, Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh Decembre 1995
Lovely nose, lots of mellow honey and nut notes, the barley sugar richness and dryness offset by a lovely glacé fruit quality, an almost pineapply sense of richness and concentration then terrific acidity. Long and beautifully mysterious and wreathed in smoky ripeness. 93/100.

red wines

Château Montus, Madiran XL 2000
This special selection of 100% Tannat is made only in the best years and is aged 48 months in oak, with no added sulphur. Huge, ripe and rich blackcurranty nose, flooded with deep spices, earthiness, a fantastically animal depth. The fruit is submerged behind the very fresh, mineral notes, that decisive acidity and plenty of tannic grip. Fabulously concentrated but has a glacial precision too. 94/100.

Château Montus, Madiran XL 2004
Seems even tighter, with really firm blue-black fruit, that huge meaty concentration and delicious, lip-smacking acidity. Fabulous stuff. 94/100.

Château Montus, Madiran 1989
Quite gamey but the big, ripe richness comes through. Deliciously long and focused. Beautiful palate with a dense concentration and grippy structure, quite sinewy and chewy in the finish. 90/100.

Château Montus, Madiran Cuvée Prestige 1990
A little gamey and funky, more animal and for me, possibly slightly too much so, though the blackcurrant and little floral character is there. Certainly full of sweet fruit and that massive concentration on the palate. 91/100.

Château Montus, Late Harvest Madiran 2008
Late harvested Tannat aged in barrels for one year. No added spirit. Beautifully smooth, with little violet and floral notes, with coffee and chocolate notes and a delicious silky balance on the palate with just hints of sweetness amongst the strong, muscular fruit and tannin and that delicious acidity. 100gl RS. 91/100.

red wines – focus on 2002

“A great vintage in Madiran with a very fresh summer and good rain, then a very dry and hot September and October,” according to Alain Brumont.

Château Bouscassé, Madiran Argile Rouge 2002
One third each of Tannat, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. Aged in Bordeaux barrique with 20-30% of new oak. A very ripe, forward, cassis and blackcurrant pastille ripeness, with some meaty and gamey notes beneath, as well as some charry oak. Very dry, very chewy, but the lovely quality of savoury fruit pulls it through. 90/100.

Château Bouscassé, Madiran Les Menhirs 2002
50/50 Tannat and Merlot. Masses of ripeness but also a lifted, Italian plum tomato note of leafiness, with a rich, sweet, very full mouth-feel, the tannins very silky but giving real bite. Deliciously sweet and long, with good acidity and that little bloody edge. 91/100.

Château Bouscassé, Madiran Vieilles Vignes 2002
A lot more new oak in this 100% Tannat, aged for around 14 – 18 months. The vines come from three parcels, aged between 35 and 80 years old. From limestone and clay soils, there’s a bloody, almost ferrous concentration here, a real impression of thick, meaty black fruit. The palate has delicious richness and a big, meaty, blood-streaked density of fruit. This is a massive wine, the fleshy texture and the ripeness all-embracing over those huge tannins and gripping acidity. 91/100.

Château Montus, Madiran Cuvée Prestige 2002
100% Tannat. Aged for around 14-18 months with a good proportion of new oak. Big, coffee and blood-streaked nose, lots of gamy character here in a rustic but very attractive style. Little notes of mint and the cassis ripeness is there. This has lovely balance, the fruit staying quite crisp, the tannins and the plummy depth of fruit filling the mouth, but there’s a cherry freshness about the finish here and a sense of life despite a hefty 15% alcohol. 92/100.

Château Montus, Madiran La Tyre 2002
From a vineyard strewn with large boulders, which Alain has found down to 15 metres of depth. Again 100% Tannat, from a parcel planted in 1990 in this windy, special soil. Meaty nose, the aromas are all about that umami depth, then teasingly a little more ripe black fruit comes through, and in the background the charry oak too. It unfolds aromatically this wine. The palate has fabulous sweetness and freshness too, with that weight and profound depth balanced by good acidity and a certain crispness to the tannins. 94/100.

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white wines

Château de La Motte, Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh Sec 2010
Deliciously tangy, sweet fruit with masses of pear and orange fruitiness and a deep nectarine quality. Oak fills in softly with vanilla, but delightful natural concentration and tangy grapefruit and orange acidity. This vineyard is in its second year of conversion to organic farming and this cuvée comes from the second pass through the vineyard. 90/100.

Domaine Berthoumieu, Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh Vieilles Vignes Sec 2010
50% Gros Manseng 50% with Petit Manseng and Petit Courbu 25%, this comes from 50-year-old vines on gravelly clay, harvested at the start of October. Half is vinified in tank, half in new oak barriques. Lots of nutty, lightly oxidised style here, with tight, elderflower and greengage fruitiness and the palate that delivers a lemony, dry punch. Lots of extract and that nuttiness comes through. Dry, uncompromising food-friendly stuff. 90/100. £12.99 Caves de Pyrène

Jean-Luc Argel, Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh Sec 2010
Youthful, juicy, the grapefruit and tangerine tang fills the nose and mouth, with perhaps a slightly more open-textured character, but the tight, searing acidity comes through. 91/100.

Jean-Luc Argel, Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh 2009
Big dried fruit nose, almost ripe sultana notes, plenty of that apricot character. Gentle vanilla smokiness too. Delightful palate with some barley sugar sweetness and that apricot depth, but again, lovely acidity, with a big tangerine tang that braces the palate. 92/100.

Cave de Crouseilles, Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh Prélude à l’Hivernal 2010
Harvested between 20th and 24th December, this is super sweet, glycerine-rich stuff with a real dried apricot flavour and fabulous intensity again. That decisive orange acidity and the nectarine and apricot richness is fabulous. 92/100.

Cave de Crouseilles, Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh Prélude à l’Hivernal 2004
Slightly rotty feeling here that detracts from the purity of the fruit that is a hallmark here. Still has that orange tang and decisive acid profile, but just a little less clean. 88/100.

Emmanuel et Vincent Lagrave Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh Tardive 2009
Finer, sweet pear fruit here and some sense of minerality too. It has lovely sweetness, but it is the sweetness of very ripe fresh pear and orange, rather than the dried fruits. Only hints of toast and a very fresh finish with real tang. 91/100.

Emmanuel et Vincent Lagrave Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh Tardive 2010
Has that similar nimble character, with the oak a little more obvious at this stage, but a similar, racy finesse. Huge tang and refinement of the palate, with massive grapefruity concentration of acidity, but that lovely glace fruit freshness is there. 92/100.

Producteurs de Plaimont, Pacherenc-du-Vic-Bilh Saint Sylvestre 2009
Harvested 31st December. Lovely nose, with a honeyed note, lots of refined, juicy fruit and ripe melon, a certain creaminess to the texture but deliciously racy lime zest finish. 90/100.

Producteurs de Plaimont, Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh Saint Albert 2008
Gros Manseng 50%, Petit Manseng 30%, Arrufiac 10%, Petit Courbu 10%. Obvious ripeness and sweetness, figgy and quince like, with a nicely vegetal streak some asparagus. Lovely sweetness from the late harvest, hand-picked grapes. The peach and ripe pear sweetness tempered by lots of lemony, quite mineral acidity. Fairly light, but long and persistent. 90/100. £17.99, Nicolas

Château d’Arricau Bordes, Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh 2007
Very straightforward it seems, with lots of toasty and sweet apricot fruit, good acidity but a real tangy finish, with pithy grapefruit that lifts this, giving it great verve and punch in the finish and that natural concentration. 89-90/100.

red wines

Producteurs de Plaimont, Maestria Madiran 2009
Tannat. Lots of brightly-focused fruit, with a chocolate density and just an echo of Tannat’s more rustic side. The palate has a bright, primary fruitiness too – a slightly floral-edged blue-black svelteness and that tight tannat acidity pushing through. 88/100.

Cave de Crouseilles, Prenium de Crouseilles Madiran 2008
Very silky, smooth and refined this tannat, with a creaminess and plushness to the fruit, the mouth-feel is beautifully sweet and plush, the acidity is lovely and fresh. Very nice wine. 90/100.

Cave de Crouseilles, Prenium de Crouseilles Madiran 2004
Delicious, similar, showing similar silkiness and smooth, modern refinement. 89/100.

Domaine Berthoumieu, Madiran Cuvée Charles de Batz 2006
Tannat with 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, this comes from 50-year-old vines and spends 12 months in new barriques. Rich, dark, black plum and olive, very sinewy and tight, with a blue/black richness and edge of woodsmoke, lovely concentration. The palate is dry and savoury, with a tight, meaty intensity and lovely tannin and acid balance that keeps it fresh. 91/100.

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