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Intro: Gascogne, Jurançon & Madiran

Jurançon is one of the most beautiful viticultural areas of France, set in the lush, green, rolling foothills of the Pyrénées, just to the west of Pau. The landscape has evolved from large rivers that carried clays, sands and gravels northwards from the Pyrénées over the last 25 million years. These Miocene alluvial deposits are made up of ‘poudingues’ (iron-cemented conglomerates), and pebbly silt, containing quartz, sandstone and metamorphic rock.

Jurançon has two main centres of viticulture, La Chapelle de Rousse, where there are many dramatic amphitheatre shaped vineyards, and Monein, 20km to the north-west. As cool winds from the south hit the hills of La Chapelle de Rousse first, their vines tend to ripen two weeks later than the more sheltered vineyards of Monein. This may be one of the reasons why the sweet, very late-harvested wines of La Chapelle de Rousse (Clos Thou’s base) are so good.

Christine Dupuy has become one of the most acclaimed winemakers in Madiran, (she is one of only four Madiran domaines starred by the 2017 Guide des Meilleurs Vins de France), and it really helps that she is the only woman making wine in this up and coming appellation. Many of her fellow vignerons, whilst being a gregarious bunch who enjoy life to the full and are mad keen on rugby, sometimes bring the subtleties of a rugby scrum to wine-making. Madiran can often be a bit too big and powerful, with lashings of new oak. In Christine’s hands it is a much more precise, balanced wine, whose phenolic ripeness is relieved by a welcome freshness and really fine tannins. I’d recommend trying her superb value for money Madiran 2014.

Organic & Bio-dynamic

See our list of organic and bio-dynamic growers.