Part four of my South West France trilogy features some more wines showcasing the genius of Alain Brumont and my love of well-made tannat. I thought it would be an interesting exercise to compare two Brumont wines from the same vintage but different terroirs, as I did in my Montus vs. Montus and Perigee vs. Apogee experiments.
2003 Les Menhirs (VdP Cotes de Gascogne)
2003 Argile Rouge (Madiran)
The 2003 Les Menhirs is officially a Vin de Pays and not a Madiran, but it is made with the same grapes (tannat/merlot). A deep, dense purple liquid, it was rather closed just after it was decanted. Crisp and vegetal, the nose developed a subtle complexity over the evening, adding violet, blackberry, mint, musk, leather, butter, and even some nice liquorice and tea notes. Hot and peppery on the palate, very dry, but richer, juicier and more full-bodied than the Madiran below. While the fresh acidity and firm tannins were a little less balanced than the next wine, it was much more approachable and easier drinking at the same time - let's say Madiran meets Napa. A winner, and you won't have to wait as long to enjoy this one - probably another 3 years in the cellar should do fine, or a nice LONG decant today.
Price: $33 (SAQ)
The 2003 Argile Rouge (i.e. Red Clay) is a Madiran, but unlike Brumont's top Bouscasse and Montus offerings which are all tannat, this was a tannat/cab sauv/cab franc blend. Unlike the merlot in the last wine, the presence of other grapes in the blend did not soften up this wine. Deep purple and very aromatic, it was violet, rose, butterscotch, pepper, tea, tobacco, coffee and wet stones, it smelled more like a Napa Merlot than a Madiran. If the "Menhirs" above was very dry, then this medium- to full-bodied offering was an "ultra dry", with powerful, copious, velvety, tongue-puckering tannins supported by nice leather and cocoa flavours. Despite the power it kept its poise. Very lengthy, and I found it just slightly more complex and interesting. Like the Montus Cuvee Prestige, this is a wine that really need some more cellar time, but I think you will be rewarded.
Price: C$28.10 (SAQ)
So, a bit of a connundrum - the Argile Rouge is cheaper, and slightly better in my opinion, but you will have to be patient with this one. The Menhirs is an excellent wine, but more approachable today. You need to decide how long you want to wait! Both sported hefty alcohol levels, but neither was dominated by the alcohol. I have two more bottles for a rematch, let's say 2012. Stay tuned.
My last tannat post for a while...Cheers!