In southwestern France, just to the south of Bordeaux and nestled among the gentle countryside around Vic-Bilh, you will find the town of Pau. For several hundred years, the local winegrowers have wrestled with an uncooperative variety known as Tannat in order to produce Madiran wine, a medium- to full-bodied AOC red with a unique spiciness. I would have never heard of this wine had not my sister in law recently returned from France with several bottles in her keeping. I don't believe it is available in America, or much of the rest of the world; but if you happen to see it, consider giving it a whirl. The Tannat grapes comprise about 46-60% of this type, but the hard-edged flavors of this are often softened with Cabernet Franc and another local variety called Pinenc or Fer Servadon.

A note: "Terreforts de Madiran" seems to be the name of the winery, so I in my Rook's Wine Reviews style I should have written it, "1997 Terreforts de Madiran Madiran," but this is clearly ridiculous.

The wine is a dark red, but with few traces of purple despite this. The aroma was interesting, offering a spicy, black pepper smell that reminded me strongly of some Cotes du Rhone wines. The fruit taste was a little understated, as it was perhaps outshined by the wine's slightly high acidity. The tannins helped extend the fruitiness in a moderately long finish. All in all, a pleasant experience, and a surprisingly good one considering the wine cost approximately $6 U.S. over there in France. I'm sure the markup on import would be 100-150%, of course...

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