2004 Madiran Domaine Berthoumieu "Charles de Batz"
Domaine Berthoumieu is owned by Didier Barré, who took over for his father Louis in the mid-eighties. Didier was one of many young winemakers at this time greatly inspired by Alain Brumont of Domaine Bouscasse/Chateau Montus fame, who could be called the founder of modern Madiran. Barré has 24 hectares of vineyard, upon which is planted Tannat, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Fer Servadou (one of the the three regions in the Southwest that plant this grape.) While Barré also made very good sweet and dry white wines under the appellation Pacherenc du Vic Bilh, his main focus is his red wines. His top red wine is the cuvée Charles de Batz, which was the original name of d'Artignan. The wine is composed of 90% Tannat with 10% Cabernet Sauvignon from vines that are at least 50 years old. The soil in these vineyards is clay and limestone with some round stones at the surface. Very ripe, rich Madiran that takes no prisoners, this wine succeeds in obtaining more fruit than tannin! The color is nearly opaque - - it doesn't get much darker than this. It displays notes of black fruit (blackcurrant and blackberry) along with just a hint of red fruit. There is a cedar-like creaminess to the oak which is extremely well-integrated. Tannins pick up on the finish but, let's face it, this is Madiran and that is to be expected. These tannins disolve when the wine is matched with richly flavored meats like leg of lamb, duck, goose or game.