The theme for this month's WBW tasting is "Wine Rummage". I don't think I'd call it a rummage but more like a great opportunity for exploring the exotic world of red grapes. What a fun idea!
The challenge was to come up with something that would intrigue me. I have recently tasted several of the obscure varieties suggested by Andrew. Our winers group recently tasted Barolo and we are planning a tasting of Duero. I really didn't want to do another tasting of Malbec or Carmenère from Chile. I regularly drink Mourvèdre and Grenache blends from Southern France. I mulled over some of the southern Italy varieties but what caught my fancy was Madiran from France. Perfect!
I had tasted this variety twice. "Heart of Darkness" from Bonny Doon Vineyards is a good introduction. We also had a bottle when we ate at Le Pichet here in Seattle. But I knew nothing about it or the tannet grape.
I found this wine at my local Whole Foods for $12. It is imported by Kermit Lynch. I've learned a lot about southern French wines by drinking his selections and almost always love his choices.
There were no notes on on the label and few on the web. One site said:
Full bodied with concentrated, extracted fruit flavors. There are focused berry flavors and earthy notes of herbs. This bottle shows how well the sun ripens in the southern reaches of France. The acid and tannins offer up a mouthwatering experience.
The label in the store said it had flavors of licorice and spice. I'm not certain if it is 100% Tannat grapes. Notes from the 2003 vintage said:
This deep red wine is made from 65% Tannat, 20% Cabernet Franc and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon. It is from the village of Madiran in southwest France. The cellars at Chateau de Perron date back to 1734 and have not seen any modifications since that time.
The Tannat grape is grown in the Madiran area, a wine region from the Southwestern area of France. It is produces a very dark, thick and tannic wine. It is often blended with Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. The soil area is hard, chalky clay soil and the wine definite takes on the flavor of the terroir. It also surprised me to find out that it is grown in Uruguay. Now that is an obscure source for wine!
I opened the bottle and there was a whiff of 'brett'; a light odor of sweat and leather. So I decanted a bit off and let it breath while I started dinner. I was pretty certain the earthiness would 'blow off'. It was very dark in color reminding me of black cherries.
After about an hour, I poured a glass. The sweaty odor had disappeared. There were hints of berry, cherry and licorice. I bought a piece of Le Vieux Berger Roquefort cheese. The smooth salty flavor was a perfect foil for the thick chalky flavor of the wine. Heart of Darkness is a perfect description for this style of wine.
I served it with a rib-eye steak, sauteed mushrooms, blue cheese, and green beans with almonds. I served my non-meat eating partner a piece of wild sturgeon that had been marinated in a little balsamic vinegar. It was a little light for this heavy red.
I really enjoyed this wine. I love tannin thick reds that are influenced by their environment and Madiran is definitely a winner for my tastes.