Wine from the southwest of France may be that country’s least known and most underappreciated. These wines are rarely exported to North America and wine knowledge about these regions rarely extends beyond a cursory understanding of Cahors and Madiran. Lucky for me, my very generous boss brought back this bottle from a trip to the region. It is an unusual, impressive wine.
Madiran’s Traditional White
Traditionally consumed as an aperitif in the region, Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh (from the local dialect, derived from the langue d’Oc) is a semi-sweet wine not unlike a Moelleux Vouvray in its balance of sugar and acidity. Pacherenc (which is 100% Petit-Manseng) is grown in the same AOC region as Madiran, situated on clay loam and limestone soils alongside the river Adour.
While essentially unheard of outside France, this white dessert wine has seen massive quality improvements in the last decade, and Chateau Laffitte-Teston is one of its top purveyors.
This wine is late harvested in December manually with between 2 and 3 passes depending on the vintage. Cold-macerated for 20 days and then raised in new oak, with frequent lees stirring. Nonetheless, this wine combines the beauty of a traditional grape with modern techniques that let it express itself fully.
A floral wine, with vanilla pod (but not that heavy oak vanilla note), and apricots. As already noted, this is not unlike a great Moelleux from Vouvray. An impressive, balanced, and highly interesting wine that is extremely drinkable. Given the acidity, it can likely also age for many years.