Domaine Berthoumieu is owned by Didier Barre, who took over for his father Louis in the mid-eighties. Inspired by Alain Brumont of Domaine Bouscasse/Chateau Montus fame (regarded as the founder of modern Madiran), Didier produced a style of Madiran that is meant to be more approachable when young, with riper fruit and less brutal tannins. His top red wine is the cuvée Charles de Batz, which was the original name of d’Artignan. It is composed of 90% Tannat with 10% Cabernet Sauvignon from vines that are at least 50 years old. The soil in these vineyards is clay and limestone with some round stones at the surface. To make this wine more accessible, Cabernet and Tannat are fermented separately, in cement tanks, with some microboullage to soften the tannins and intensify the fruit. Partial (60%) oak ageing for one year lends body and texture, and the final wine is blended and lightly filtered for additional softening prior to bottling. These techniques make possible this incredibly delicious, fine-grained Madiran that you can drink now or hold for years. It bears the classic inky purple hue of Tannat, with notes of black fruit (blackcurrant and blackberry) along with just a hint of red fruit. There is a cedar-like creaminess to the oak which is extremely well-integrated, and the tannins, though firm, are ripe and polished. Decant if to enjoy young, or lay away to allow this distinctive wine’s unique secondary aromas and flavors of vanilla, coffee, and nutty spices to develop.