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2017 Domaine Labranche Laffont Madiran Tradition: Madiran, France


Tasting Notes

This wine is rich, ripe and round. Chewy deep dark intensity, yet surprisingly elegant. Think rock-solid Bordeaux without the price-tag and the aggressive oak. This wine has some hardy tannins, give this wine some time to breathe and you will be rewarded!

Winery Details

France’s Southwest region of Madiran has made wine since Gallo-Roman times, and its bounty was noted by the court of Edward the Black Prince of Aquitaine in the 14th century. Tannat’s power and Madiran’s microclimate combine to make one of France’s truly big wines in terms of tannin content (it’s worth noting that Irouléguy, the other Tannat appellation, is higher in the Pyrenean chain where the cooler, wetter weather makes for a more acid and angular rendition of wine). Madiran’s viticulture fell into steep decline with phylloxera and continued to fall during the long, dreary aftermath. In 1953, plantings of Tannat here were down to 15 acres of vines, or so the appellation records claim. Fortunately Madiran (unlike Cahors), managed to escape the frost of 1956. Its revival began in the 1970s. Today, Madiran has some 3,212 acres of vines of various stripes, with the majority in Tannat.

Christine Dupuy took over her family’s six-hectare (15-acre) wine estate, Domaine Labranche Laffont, in 1992 when her father died unexpectedly. She was 23 at the time and the estate had been in her family since before the French Revolution. By chance she had just finished her degree in enology, but she had little practical experience. So she went to neighboring Château d’Aydie, Domaine Capmartin, and Domaine La Chapelle Lenclos, all of whom were among the most prestigious domains in the appellation at the time. During that first year they helped this precocious young vigneronne get off on the right foot.

Christine has come a long way since those early days, and today she farms 50.65 acres of vines, all hand-harvested and tended organically. Of those, 43 acres are devoted to red varieties and the rest to dry and sweet whites. Insofar as she works to refine Tannat’s inherently tannic grip, her red wines are modern in style, but she loses none of the textural density that made the grape famous. Her reds are rich, ripe, and round—and surprisingly elegant for wines of such scale. If you want soft sweet red fruit, look elsewhere; but if it’s chewy deep dark density that you seek, go no further! I’ll add one more thing: if you are lucky enough to remember or know really good, old school Bordeaux, and are tired of the overworked and over-oaked concoctions coming out of so much of Bordeaux today, try Christine’s wine. It will renew your faith.

Christine received certification for organic farming in 2014. She is a member of a group of organic growers in the Southwest known as A Bistro de Nas, and she is increasingly interested in biodynamic methods and in being as non-interventionist as possible.

Wine Summary

Winery/Producer: Domaine Labranche Laffont – Christine Dupuy

Grape(s): 60% Tannat, 20% Cabernet Franc, and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon

Style: Red, dry

Origin: Madiran, Southwest, France

Vinification: Grapes are hand-harvested, macerated and fermented in concrete vats with native yeast. A third of the wine is aged in old French oak barrels. Unfiltered and light fining.

Aging: Aged for 18 months in concrete vats and old French oak barrels.

% ABV: 14%