In deepest Gascony and in the foothills of the Pyrénées lies the idyllic landscape of Madiran, home to the original Malbec wines of the name.
This is rural France – no big towns or major autoroutes – rolling hills and fields, small villages and wine-making in the land of the Three Musketeers. The area is known as the “Old Country” Vic Bilh in Gascon, with an ancient vineyard of red wines of “Madiran” and white wines of “Pacherenc du Vic Bilh” and local country wines – Vin de Pays des Côtes de Gascogne.
Originally the local Madiran wines were robust and tannic – excellent foils for the rich duck and goose which are the area’s principal dishes. Modern styles have become more fruit-driven and can be wondrously smooth. The whites range from dry to lush dessert wines. Good wines are made by the local Plaimont co-operative (at St Mont), but the stars of the area are small craft winemakers, such as the Laplace family at Chateau d’Aydie (at Viella), Alain Brumont at Chateau Bouscassé and Chateau Montus (at Maumusson Laguian) Didier Barré at Domaine Berthoumieu (at Viella) and many others.
For more info on the wines of Madiran see www.madiran-story.fr
Stay at the stylish Hotel Le Prieuré in the heart of the village.
The nearest main rail/air connections are at Pau (64 Pyrénées-Atlantiques, Aquitaine) about 50km south-west or Lourdes (65 Hautes-Pyrénées, Midi-Pyrénées) about 60km south or Toulouse ( 31 Haut-Garonne, Midi-Pyrénées) – about 150km east
Other accommodation around Madiran includes B&Bs, self-catering apartments/villas – but beware this is a seriously rural area with few large towns or public transport.