A Gentle Giant

Ten years on, it would appear that the intense heat of the 2003 vintage in Europe has not delivered all that it promised. In more marginal regions the prolonged high temperatures all too often resulted in atypical ripeness and an unusual lack of acidity, handled best by only the most skilful winemakers. Even in traditionally hotter regions, it took a lot of talent to coax great wines from such baked fruit; many ended up being soupy and lacking in definition. Usually similar in style to the wines of the Bordeaux region it satellites, the 2003 Château Montus Madiran topped the scales at a whopping 15.5% ABV. It is a testament to Alain Brumont's ability to handle the often ferocious Tannat that this wine was so well balanced and harmonious.

 Château Montus Madiran 2003

Château Montus Madiran 2003

Deep, dark, glass-staining ruby, still with a hint of purple and long, sturdy legs. Roast meat, dark bramble fruit, cherry brandy, violets and dried leaves with minerally, earthy notes and sweet, toasty coffee oak aromas. A savoury scent of burnt meat fat, like that rendered from a sirloin steak as it drips onto the hot coals of the barbecue cooking it, made my stomach growl in eager anticipation of the piece of rare bavette on my plate.

Dry and refined, despite its size. The grip of firm acidity and plenty of talc-fine, powdery tannins balanced rich, savoury black fruits, coffee liqueur, earthy minerality and floral notes. It said something about the structure and concentration, as well as about the skill of the winemaker, that the alcohol was not at all intrusive. A supple, long and very drying, coffee flavoured finish was bolstered by firm acidity and vanilla tinged black fruit. Still a lovely drink, this certainly has a few years of life left although it probably won't improve any further.