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Madiran and Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh

by Tom Cannavan 2011

These notes accompany our in-depth feature on Madiran and Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh.


These wines are imported into the UK by Thorman Hunt. See all UK stockists on wine-searcher.

white wines

Château Montus, Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh Sec 1999
80% Petit Courbu, 20% Gros Manseng, aged in 600-litre barrels for around one year. Quite a deep, golden colour. Lots of honey and nutty aromas, a Brazil nut fat and lovely sense of opulence. On the palate it has huge concentration, with lots of volume in the mouth, but retaining beautiful apple acidity. A wine that is still for sale. 90/100

Château Montus, Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh Sec 2003
Still a deep, golden hue, but not so dark. More lifted, floral and pineapple tones, and a real exotic ripeness. The fruit has real opulence and sweetness on the mid-palate, and delicious ripe pear acidity that is still pithy and grapefruity. 89/100

Château Montus, Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh Sec 2005
Deep golden colour again, with a nutty, straw-like aroma. Plenty of slightly raw wood too, with vanilla and a touch of resinous quality. On the palate that thrilling orange and lemon zest freshness, with rich mouth-feel. 90/100, but once it settles down a little.

Château Montus, Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh Sec 2006
I felt this was a touched corked but there was no opportunity to request a second bottle. Something just added a little off note, the palate just very slightly stripped, but still with that nice combination of fat and lemon freshens. Quite difficult to judge, but a good wine in there.

Château Montus, Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh Decembre 1995
Lovely nose, lots of mellow honey and nut notes, the barley sugar richness and dryness offset by a lovely glacé fruit quality, an almost pineapply sense of richness and concentration then terrific acidity. Long and beautifully mysterious and wreathed in smoky ripeness. 93/100.

red wines

Château Montus, Madiran XL 2000
This special selection of 100% Tannat is made only in the best years and is aged 48 months in oak, with no added sulphur. Huge, ripe and rich blackcurranty nose, flooded with deep spices, earthiness, a fantastically animal depth. The fruit is submerged behind the very fresh, mineral notes, that decisive acidity and plenty of tannic grip. Fabulously concentrated but has a glacial precision too. 94/100.

Château Montus, Madiran XL 2004
Seems even tighter, with really firm blue-black fruit, that huge meaty concentration and delicious, lip-smacking acidity. Fabulous stuff. 94/100.

Château Montus, Madiran 1989
Quite gamey but the big, ripe richness comes through. Deliciously long and focused. Beautiful palate with a dense concentration and grippy structure, quite sinewy and chewy in the finish. 90/100.

Château Montus, Madiran Cuvée Prestige 1990
A little gamey and funky, more animal and for me, possibly slightly too much so, though the blackcurrant and little floral character is there. Certainly full of sweet fruit and that massive concentration on the palate. 91/100.

Château Montus, Late Harvest Madiran 2008
Late harvested Tannat aged in barrels for one year. No added spirit. Beautifully smooth, with little violet and floral notes, with coffee and chocolate notes and a delicious silky balance on the palate with just hints of sweetness amongst the strong, muscular fruit and tannin and that delicious acidity. 100gl RS. 91/100.

red wines - focus on 2002

"A great vintage in Madiran with a very fresh summer and good rain, then a very dry and hot September and October," according to Alain Brumont.

Château Bouscassé, Madiran Argile Rouge 2002
One third each of Tannat, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. Aged in Bordeaux barrique with 20-30% of new oak. A very ripe, forward, cassis and blackcurrant pastille ripeness, with some meaty and gamey notes beneath, as well as some charry oak. Very dry, very chewy, but the lovely quality of savoury fruit pulls it through. 90/100.

Château Bouscassé, Madiran Les Menhirs 2002
50/50 Tannat and Merlot. Masses of ripeness but also a lifted, Italian plum tomato note of leafiness, with a rich, sweet, very full mouth-feel, the tannins very silky but giving real bite. Deliciously sweet and long, with good acidity and that little bloody edge. 91/100.

Château Bouscassé, Madiran Vieilles Vignes 2002
A lot more new oak in this 100% Tannat, aged for around 14 - 18 months. The vines come from three parcels, aged between 35 and 80 years old. From limestone and clay soils, there's a bloody, almost ferrous concentration here, a real impression of thick, meaty black fruit. The palate has delicious richness and a big, meaty, blood-streaked density of fruit. This is a massive wine, the fleshy texture and the ripeness all-embracing over those huge tannins and gripping acidity. 91/100.

Château Montus, Madiran Cuvée Prestige 2002
100% Tannat. Aged for around 14-18 months with a good proportion of new oak. Big, coffee and blood-streaked nose, lots of gamy character here in a rustic but very attractive style. Little notes of mint and the cassis ripeness is there. This has lovely balance, the fruit staying quite crisp, the tannins and the plummy depth of fruit filling the mouth, but there's a cherry freshness about the finish here and a sense of life despite a hefty 15% alcohol. 92/100.

Château Montus, Madiran La Tyre 2002
From a vineyard strewn with large boulders, which Alain has found down to 15 metres of depth. Again 100% Tannat, from a parcel planted in 1990 in this windy, special soil. Meaty nose, the aromas are all about that umami depth, then teasingly a little more ripe black fruit comes through, and in the background the charry oak too. It unfolds aromatically this wine. The palate has fabulous sweetness and freshness too, with that weight and profound depth balanced by good acidity and a certain crispness to the tannins. 94/100.

for our in-depth Madiran and Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh feature