Exploring Madiran with Vignobles Brumont #Winophiles

Sud-Ouest wine region map courtesty of http://www.winesofsouthwestfrance.com

Southwest France, Unknown in the US
The wines of Southwest France are little known in the US. Deep in the shadows of Bordeaux (which geographically should be considered part of the region), the wines are difficult to find  and even knowledgeable wine shop employees may not discern a difference between Sud-Ouest (Southwest) and Languedoc-Roussillon. The appellations of Madiran (red) and Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh (white) surround the village of Madiran itself. Many appellations in Southwest have remained steadfast champions of their local, indigenous grapes and Madiran is no exception. (click on a photo to see slideshow, escape to return)

Introduction to Vignobles Brumont, a Madiran Pioneer
In April, I had an opportunity to attend a trade tasting in Minneapolis. Annette Peters’ Bourget Imports hosted Alain Brumont, a leader in elevating the wines of the Madiran region of Southwest France.  Alain is the leader of Chateau Montus and Chateau Bouscassé, and is well known as a long time proponent of the wines of the region. The Brumont family has owned vineyards in the region since before the French revolution, with their historic home at Chateau Bouscassé. Alain took over the family estate in 1980 and began his quest to re-establish the region as one capable of producing wines of world-class quality, based on the land and the native grapes.

There are no major cities nearby, and the Brumont vineyards aren’t packed into areas with other vineyards, they are separated from other vineyards by forests. They are big believers in a natural approach, with no chemical use in the vineyards. They use old methods, measuring yield by bunches per branch and judging picking time by taste, not by chemical analysis.

In the cellar, they used traditional approaches, using only punchdowns, no pumpovers. No additions, no fining, no filtering, no micro-oxygenation: old school!

Chateau Bouscassé Madiran AOC red wine

Chateau Bouscassé is the traditional Madiran red wine from Vignobles Brumont.

Château Bouscassé Madiran AOC 2009 ($29 at Zipps Liquor Store)
The Madiran appellation is for red wines only, and the Brumont wines are based primarily on the Tannat grape, with Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc used as blending grapes. Fermentation takes 3 to 6 weeks maceration and the wines are aged in barrels, 30% to 50% new.
Tasting Notes from the Winery
“Harmony and power, a delicate fruitiness with aromas of blackberries and well-integrated tannins, full-bodied on the palate. This is a wine that stays young for a long time, evolving very slowly, and thus has a good potential to age. Pair with red meat and spicy dishes. Gascon, Béarnaise and BASQUE cuisine.”
My notes
Eye: Clear, deepest darkest ruby. Opaque right out to a brick color edge, dark stained legs.
Nose: Clean, medium intensity. Dark black fruit, brooding, ripe but not overripe. A hint of tar in the background.
Mouth: Bone dry, medium acidity, medium+ tannins, ripe and refined . Deep dark, and intense dominated by the darkest fruit, ripe but not raisined backed up by a bit of tar. Nice long lingering finish.  While this is a big wine (14.5% alcohol), it isn’t ponderous or luscious, it retains tight structure.

Chateau Montus Blanc

Chateau Montus Blanc Pacheranc du Vic-Bilh Sec 2011 ($36 from France 44)
Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh Sec appellation requires grape varieties including Petit Courbu and Petit Manseng. The grapes are pressed slowly over 5 hours at low temperature. Vinification and aging on fine lees occur in 600 litre barrels for 14 to 15 months.
Tasting Notes from the Winery
“The Petit Courbu brings silkiness, body and a mellow texture, accompanied by floral notes,
fruitiness and an iodized freshness. The Petit Manseng brings minerality, a richness of the constituents, and rigour and order to the aromas. The woodiness is subtle and well integrated, to “leave room” for the wine. Length, freshness and volume on the palate. When young, during the first 3-4 years, with fish (sea bass, turbot), white meat, or Aquitaine caviar. From 6 to 15 years old, with goose foie gras. The smoothness and body of the wine complement this dish perfectly”

My Notes
Eye: Clear, deep, deep lemon yellow
Nose: Clean, medium+ intensity. Fascinating nose, with stone fruit (ripe peach), appropriate vanilla oak notes, but with a sharp element. Reminds me a bit of a nice oaked chardonnay, but clearly a different grape as the fruit notes are different.
Mouth: Dry, medium+ acidity. Nice full body, with the rich fruit notes lingering into a long finish.

Chateau Montus Blanc with entrée salad

Chateau Montus Blanc with entrée salad of fresh peas, prosciutto, and shaved parmigiano reggiano.

Chateau Montus with Entrée Salad
We thought the Chateau Montus Blanc was a spendid pairing with the fresh spring pea salad. The rich accents of the crispy Prosciutto and shaved Parmigiano Reggiano matched the richness of the white wine and the fresh flavors of the vegetables were well matched with the bright fruit in the wine. A great start to our meal!
Vignobles Brumont wines with steak with Madeira fruit sauce and a vegetable gratin

Vignobles Brumont wines with steak with Madeira fruit sauce and a vegetable gratin

Chateau Bouscassé Madiran with Steak and Madeira Fruit Sauce
In searching the internet for a nice Madiran food pairing, I found a recipe for red meat with a fruit sauce which specifically mentioned pairing with Chateau Bouscassé. I would usually think of a fruit sauce with pork, but I decided to give it a try. I was skeptical about pairing a deep, dry red wine with a sauce based on Madeira and fresh fruits, but I needn’t have worried. Somehow, the combination was quite good! The sweetness in the sauce combined with the savory rare meat brought out an almost smoky impression from the wine; it all worked!  We also tried the Chateau Montus Blanc with the main dish, and it was a good choice for a white wine.  It had plenty of body and cleansing acidity; a good choice for a white wine drinker!
French Winophiles Explore Southwest France
Take a look at all the discoveries made by our Winophiles group!

Join our chat on Saturday at 10-11am CDT (11am EDT, 8am PDT, and 1700 hours in France)! See what we think of Southwest France, and tell us about your experiences with the wine, food, or travel in the region! Simply log into Twitter and search for the #winophiles tag, and you’re in!

Recipe Links
Julie picked up an excellent cookbook recently: Cook Like a Rock Star by Anne Burrell
Explore the wines of southwest France at www.foodwineclick.com
Comments
12 Responses to “Exploring Madiran with Vignobles Brumont #Winophiles”
  1. Lynn says:

    Like your style of feasting with these wines Jeff! I tend to steer clear of Madiran rouge due to their extreme muscular structure, however once Mark and I get a grill here (soon!), will certainly grab a Brumont Bouscassé and give your dish a try.

    Petit Manseng seems to be commonly blended with Gros Mansend and Corbu (blanc). Haven’t run across the blend you tried with Petit Corbu, but I will run across the ingredients at the market this morning to recreate your salad!

  2. I love the wines of south-west France . Much under-rated.

  3. Wendy Klik says:

    I am amazed Jeff, on how much info and how many classes you find to attend in your area. Perhaps if I lived in the west side of Michigan where all our wineries are found I would be able to learn more about wines from all over the world. No plans on moving anytime soon so I will just have to learn through other’s experiences in this group.

  4. Your posts are always a interesting, fun and informative reads Jeff. I don’t think I also have to tell you they’re a visual delight as well. Both wines sounds great. Glad that fruit sauce for the steak turned out well! Cheers!

  5. Nibbling Gypsy says:

    This all looks so delicious. And loved reading about the seminar and tasting with the winemaker.

  6. Beautiful pairings, Jeff! I love that you tried the white wine with the main course as well; it’s surprising how well some of them stand up to heartier dishes. This month’s topic was such an inspiration to break away from our usual wine habits and ferret out some new bottles. The two you tried are now on my shopping list! (BTW, thanks for hosting – it was one of the more dynamic chats I’ve participated in, with so much information flowing. Would be fun to revisit it again.)

  7. Everything sounds delicious. I am impressed at how easily you located the wines in Minnesota. I love your pairings and I think the beef with fruit sounds like a good pairing. Thanks for stretching us this month Jeff. It was a bit stressful but ultimately delicious!

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