Article and
Tasting Notes by
George Heritier



Chateau Montus Large Format Display
Chateau Montus Large Format Display

Some of our favorite wine distributors in the Detroit area are the small to medium sized operations that handle wines from high quality, small to medium sized producers that you’d never find from the mega-houses. One such company is Wines of Distinction – J & J Importers out of Bloomfield Hills, who last week held a trade tasting featuring wines from Alain Brumont of Madiran and selections from Maison Sichel’s Bordeaux portfolio. Having had some experience with both of these groupings, we were only too happy to accept an invitation from our friend Judie Murdoch to attend.

Madiran is situated about 150 kilometers south of Bordeaux, and it’s hardly a household name in wine circles, which can be a good thing for those of us who know and enjoy the wines, because prices haven’t gotten stupid yet. Tannat is king in Madiran; the grape produces wines that are deep, dense, very dark and quite age worthy.

Alain Brumont is, by all accounts, the premier wine producer in Madiran. He spares no effort in making his wines the best that they can possibly be. Though not actually certified, he follows bio-organic practices in the vineyard and owns much of the finest property in the appellation. He eschews the micro-oxygenation process used by many of his neighbors to soften young Tannat, feeling that long periods in new oak work better, and the proof is in the bottle, as they show little overt oak influence. He also owns property in Côtes de Gascogne, from which he sources grapes for wines such as the rosé noted below.

Here are my snapshot impressions; all wines are 750 ml unless otherwise noted.

Brumont Rosé & Blanc2007 Alain Brumont Bouscasse Blanc "Les Jardins de Bouscasse,” $14.99: Made from the Petit Courbu grape, this pale to medium straw colored wine offers a pretty floral nose that follows through on the palate with apple, melon and mineral. Showing good weight and cut, this is food friendly and also works well as an aperitif. Find this wine

2007 Brumont Tannat-Syrah-Merlot Rosé Vin de Pays des Côtes de Gascogne, $9.49: Salmon pink in color, with dusty mineral, strawberry and watermelon flavors and aromas; decidedly dry, with good weight and cut. Great QPR (quality price ratio) here. Find this wine

This was my second chance to try Brumont’s entry level 2004 Torus, and I liked it every bit as well as the first.  Unless otherwise noted, all exhibit good dark color.

2004 Alain Brumont Madiran Torus, 50% Tannat, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Cabernet Franc, 375 ml, $9.99: Deep, dark, earthy underbrush, black currant and blackberry flavors and aromas. Full bodied, well structured and distinctive. Find this wine

2006 Alain Brumont Madiran Torus, 50% Tannat, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% cabernet Franc, $13.99: A hint of the barnyard vies with a hint of floral on the nose, with a solid core of earth, underbrush, black currant and black plum in both flavor and aroma. Full bodied and well structured; approachable, but better in a few years. Find this wine

Montus & Torus2004 Alain Brumont Chateau Montus Madiran, 80% Tannat, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 375 ml, $15.99: Expressive, almost floral nose; in the mouth, flavors of earth, iron, black currant, black plum and underbrush. Full bodied, well structured, and while it’s drinking well now, it’s still on the way up. Very nice. Find this wine

2005 Alain Brumont Chateau Montus Madiran, 80% Tannat, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, $29.99: Attractive bouquet of black fruit shaded with some chocolate and a hint of floral; flavors echo and expand with a deep, dark core of black currant and plum, rich and appealing. Full bodied, well structured and still on the way up, but already delicious. Find this wine

2005 Alain Brumont Chateau Bouscasse Madiran, 65% Tannat, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% cabernet Franc, $19.99: Deeply, darkly colored and not as floral as the Montus, but just as expressive in its own way, with an earthy underbrush, black currant, blackberry and black plum personality. Big, rich fruit and solid structure; approachable, but its best days are well ahead of it. Find this wine

2002 Alain Brumont Chateau Bouscasse Madiran Vieilles Vignes, $39.49: The inky color is the first indicator of the 100% Tannat makeup here; on the nose, there’s a little bit of the barnyard offset by a little hint of floral, leading in to a big rich mouthful of earthy black currant, black plum and blackberry. Full bodied, smooth in texture and very expressive, this is quite enjoyable right now, and it’s only going to get better with more time in the bottle. Find this wine

When I moved on to the Bordeaux table, I had to try a couple of inexpensive items from the Côtes de Gascogne region of Southwestern France.

Pellehaut Rosé & BlancDomaine du Pellehaut is owned by the Béraut family. Gaston Béraut oversees the operation, while one son, Martin, is the vineyard manager, and the other, Mathieu, is the winemaker. Mathieu has previously spent time at nearby Château de Tariquet, Château Beycheville in Bordeaux and Au Bon Climat in Southern California. Pellehaut’s herd of blonde d’Aquitaine cattle provide the manure that is used to fertilize the vineyard, so no synthetics or chemicals are used.

2007 Domaine du Pellehaut Côtes de Gascogne Harmonie de Gascone Blanc, $11.99: Pale to medium straw color; rich and under-ripe at the same time, with mineral, apple, pear and a hint of herb. Medium to medium full bodied, with good cut and offering good value. A blend of Ugni Blanc, Colombard, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Gros Manseng, made with a cool fermentation and aging sur lie. Find this wine

2007 Domaine du Pellehaut Côtes de Gascogne Harmonie de Gascone Rosé, $9.49: Raspberry pink color, with raspberry, strawberry, watermelon and mineral character. Good weight, cut and length; satisfying and enjoyable.  Bled from Pellehaut's red Les Marcottes cuvée, 70% Tannat and 30% Merlot. Find this wine

The reps from WoD actually recommended starting with the Bordeaux table and then moving on to the Madirans, but I tend to do things backwards, and as it happened, things worked out just fine. I ignored a few lower end clarets and went for the better bottlings, and without exception, they all showed a fine sense of finesse, elegance and refinement.

Fine young claret!

2004 Château l'Enclos Bonis Saint Estèphe, $20.49: Tobacco and black currant nose; in the mouth, rich, earthy black currant – cassis comes to the fore, with tobacco and old wood for support. Medium full bodied and in a nice place right now. Should drink well for another five years or so. Find this wine

2005 Château Haut Gazeau Lussac-Saint-Emilion, $19.99: Cigar box nose that follows through on the palate with a big, rich core of black currant – cassis. Full bodied, smooth and silky, yet well structured for some years in the cellar. Very nice now, better in three to five years and beyond. Find this wine

2005 Château Perron Lalande de Pomerol, $34.49: Tobacco on the nose and floral black currant underneath; the well mannered yet expressive flavors echo and expand on the deceptively well structured, medium full bodied frame. Very good now, better in a few years. Find this wine

2001 La Ferme d'Angludet Margaux, $37.99: Good color, and all cigar box on the nose; slightly vegetal on the palate, but not in a bad way, offering earthy black currant and beetroot. Medium full bodied and moderately structured, this is in a nice place right now. Find this wine

2004 Château d'Angludet Margaux, $54.99: Soft tobacco and black currant – cassis flavors and aromas; smooth, silky, well mannered and not quite restrained. Almost feminine in character and drinking very well right now. Find this wine

2003 Château d'Angludet Margaux, $53.49: Tobacco, cigar box and cassis on the nose; flavors echo emphatically, as this is much more expressive than the ’04. Still on the way up, and while very nice now, it’ll be even better in three to five years and beyond. Find this wine

2005 Château Pedesclaux Pauillac, $60.49: Reticent cigar box nose that leads into nice black currant – cassis, tobacco and earth flavors. Balanced and refined; well structured, but not “big” in the usual sense of the word. Very nice now and in no danger of fading any time soon. Find this wine

2005 Château Desmirail Margaux, $62.99: This is our friend Judie Murdoch’s favorite wine in this part of the lineup and it’s not hard to see why. With slightly cloudy dark color, it offers pretty black currant, dark chocolate and tobacco flavors and aromas; full, rich and silky smooth in the mouth, yet structured for at least five years of development. A lovely wine. Find this wine

2005 Château Moulinet Pomerol, $66.49: Clean dark color, with very pretty aromatics of black currant, soft chocolate and a hint of tobacco, all of which echoes and expands on the palate. Rich and expressive, medium full bodied and well structured for several years of development, yet already delicious. Find this wine

Reporting from Day-twah,

geo t.

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© George Heritier February, 2009