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Didier Barre, Madiran winemaker at Viella

berthoumieu-madiran.jpgA personal favourite, Domaine Berthomieu is a small domaine (26 hectares) in the village of Viella (32 Gers, Midi-Pyrenees), in the north of the Madiran appellation. The domaine has been in the family since 1850 and Didier Barré is the 6th generation to own and run the domaine. Didier is a real enthusiast, passionate about his wines and respectful of the traditional character of the wine. The wines offer tremendous character and style, some of the best in the appellation. We were proud to submit his Madiran AC Cuvée Charles de Batz to the Wine Magazine International Wine Challenge, where it won a Gold Medal!

The domaine has two different plots – one on a pebbly, clay plateau to the west of the village facing south towards the Pyrenees, and the other a gravelly slope facing south east to the east of the village.Didier Barre at Domaine Berthoumieu

Many of the vines on the estate are between 40 and 100 years old. These older vines yield fewer grapes, but their long roots will extract more mineral character and trace elements.

See map location of Domaine Berthoumieu at Viella

He has a very good website at www.domaine-berthoumieu.com. Really well-presented with good photos, a lexicon of wine terms, details of the wines etc – but sadly only in French.
Amongst the things which caught my eye was a highly unusual red dessert wine , a”Vin de Liqueur” called TANATIS – made from late harvested (end of October) grapes. These are 100% Tannat (the Madiran grape) from vines which are more than 50 years old. After 10 days of maceration to extract colour and tannins from the flesh, skin and pips, the fermentation is prematurely stopped by the addition of spirit alcohol – in the same manner as the making of Port. This stops the conversion of sugar into alcohol and hence retains a natural sweetness in the wine. After ageing for 8 months in oak barrels it is bottled quite young, but it is claimed it will last up to 15 years in bottle. The tasting notes suggest highly concentrated flavours of wild berries, black berries and a touch of prunes. The French of course suggest it as an aperitif, but I prefer the idea of it accompanying a Chocolate Tart.
Tanatis – Vin de Liqueur du Sud Ouest from Domaine Berthoumieu.

For something rather less unusual, but an excellent white dessert wine – his Pacherenc du Vic Bilh “Symphonie d’Automne” is a stunner.

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