Simon's Blog: A Wine from Another Time

January 31st, 2013

Friday evening, the temperature was quite mild for mid-January, and we decided to brave the elements and fire up the barbecue. The sirloins were juicy, cooked rare, like summer in a plate. We just had to pick the right wine in the cellar to make it a perfect evening.

The chosen one was a wine from another time, a wine that is no longer produced, made by the “Madiran’s Pope,” Alain Brumont – a wine I now wish I had bought by the case. And from this already interesting producer, the wine was the Montus “XL” cuvée 1995, a really original and ambitious wine. It’s made from 100 percent Tannat, the famous muscular local grape, and kept during 40 months in 100 percent new oak. Brumont’s gamble? That after a rough beginning where the wine is incredibly tannic, it would finally come around nicely. And he was damn right.

After about an hour in a decanter, we started tasting it. The still opaque purple hue preceded an intense, compelling, charming and profound nose. It was totally Madiran-like, with new leather, black fruits and liquorice, but at the same time, it could have been a really young St-Estèphe, with mineral character evocative of lead pencil shavings, torrefaction, and subtle notes of noble new oak. What an enticing nose. And it seemed so young…

The mouthfeel was full, rich and long, with great tension and fine-grain tannins holding the wine on such a nice length. This was a masculine, full-bodied red with a great acidity, and only 12.5 percent alcohol. So Madiran, but at the same time made with a really Bordeaux-like mastery. Plain delicious, and drinkable over the next…30 years, maybe? I can’t see when this wine will begin to decline.

At under $100, this wine was a steal, and clearly in my top wines of 2012. The kind of wine you want to serve blind, at 25 years of age, against first growths of the same vintage. Sadly, Brumont has stopped producing this out-of-bounds wine, and is now making wines that are a bit more polished and approachable in their youth. I guess this kind of wine must have been pretty hard to sell at the original price point, with such a huge, prominent structure.

Oh, and about the food pairing? Rare sirloins were pretty spot-on, but I could have gone with raw mammoth’s shank, with a tad of black pepper sauce…


Simon Gaudreault is a sommelier in Montreal and the co-author of a book on Canadian wines: "Vins et vignobles du Canada: Coups de coeur pour des vins d'ici."

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