While it is true that France’s Gascony region is better known for the production of foie gras and Armagnac brandy than it is for wine, as always, there is one notable exception. The tiny village of Madiran in the center of the region has a long, rich history of producing tannic, burly reds meant to match up to the region’s notoriously rich cuisine. Here, growers work primarily with the relatively obscure Tannat grape, a variety of Basque origin that made its home a stone’s throw north in Madiran. Noted for its tendency toward producing high tannin, grippy reds, it has fueled local drinking for decades. And, as the end of summer approaches, it is a wonderful entry back into the world of earthy reds.
On the nose, this blend of Tannat and Cabernet Franc offers up notes of smoked meat, black olives, and ripe red plum. Moving to the palate, you’ll find this wine full and rich with notes of black and blue fruits framing its savory, herbal undertones. Yet it has plenty of acidity to make it a refreshing example of full-bodied red. Enjoy this wine with duck as the locals do, or for a lighter, vegetarian option, try it with our recipe for Grilled Eggplant with Raisin and Caper Vinaigrette.
Tannat hails originally from one of Europe’s most interesting international zones–what we now know as Basque Country. Not unlike Malbec, which is native to this corner of France as well, Tannat travels well and currently represents the most widely planted grape in Uruguay. One of France’s most tannic grapes, Madiran AOC wines must by law contain at least 60% Tannat, but may be blended with Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, which are often used to soften Tannat’s wild edge. ‘L’Origine’ represents a blend of 70/30% Tannat and Cabernet Franc sourced from vines planted to gravelly soils. Aging is split between steel tank and neutral oak barrel.