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Madiran is an AOC for red wines produced around the village of Madiran in Gascony, to the south of Bordeaux in southwest France. There are 3,200 acres under vine and the main grape variety in Madiran is Tannat, which must make up at least 40 to 60% of the blend. Tannat can be supplemented by Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and the obscure variety, "Fer." Many of the best wines in the appellation are produced from 100% Tannat.

The wines, as befits the character of Tannat, are very concentrated and tannic and require bottle age to show their mettle. In many ways Madiran with Tannat is the counterpoint to Cahors with Malbec. Tannat cuttings were taken from Madiran to Uruguay in the early 1800s by settlers from the region and Tannat now forms the base of a not-insubstantial Uruguayan wine industry in much the same way that Malbec was taken from Cahors to Argentina.

Similarly, Uruguayan Tannat has in many ways outperformed the original, and younger vintners in Madiran have been experimenting with Uruguayaan techniques such as micro-oxygenation to soften the wines and make them more accessible in youth. This is a region on the move and exported examples should be sought out as firmly structured food wines that can offer tremendous value. (Wine/Appellations)