There are not many people who will come to France without sampling the local wine. While this area is not one that immediately springs to mind as a wine producing area, even in the foot hills of the Pyrenees you can find a local vintage to while away some time on the terrace or accompany a meal with friends and family.
For white wine, Jurançon must be the favourite, while Madiran produces nothing but a robust red which even you doctor may agree is well worth trying! (see right).
The vineyard is located in the middle of 3 departements: the Gers, Pyrenées-Atlantiques and the Hautes Pyrénées, north of Tarbes. The area had been producing wine for many centuries before the Benedictine monks in the 11th Century, from their base in the ‘Abbey of Madiran’ lent their skills towards improving the quality of the wine.
At the end of the 19th Century phylloxéra obliterated the wine, but then in the middle of the 20th Century a spectacular revival began that saw the vines grow from about 40 hectares to 1500 hectares. Madiran gained its ‘Appellation d’origine controllée’ in 1948.
Madiran is a robust, intensely coloured red wine, whilst Pacherenc du Vic Bilh is a sweet white dessert wine or an aromatic dry white. Madiran in particular, can be of variable quality but we work with Chateau de Fitère in the north of the area, which produces consistently good wine.
Jurançon, south of Pau, is produced in an area of 750 ha around 25 villages including Monein, Gan and Jurançon itself. The area produces over 4.5 million bottles a year, 75% of which is dry white. Grapes used are Gros Manseng, Petit Manseng, Courbu, Camaralet de Lasseube, and Lauzet grapes.
Jurançon acquired its celebrity while being used for the baptism of King Henri IV. The vines grow on steep slopes such as in Hermitage, undergoing both oceanic and mountainous climates. The vine growers use traditional grapes such as Lauzet, Petit and Grand Mansengs and Courbu.
Sweet Jurançon is a golden wine with exotic fruits and honey aromas. It can age for a very long time.
Dry Jurançon has a color drawing towards clear green. The blanc de blanc (white from white) is a fresh and aromatic dry wine. Dry Jurançon accounts for 75 % of the total wine production in Jurançon.