Friday, January 22, 2010

Drink Madiran wine and live longer

Red wine is supposed to be good for your cardiovascular health - in a moderate consumption pattern of course. But did you know that the Madiran wines are supposed to be healthier than the others? They presumeably contain twice as much of the healty ingredients as a normal red wine! This is one part of the French paradox, that Frenchmen stay slim and have fewer heart problems even though their diet is high in saturated fats. The other part, in my opinion, has to do with duck fat, but I'll get back to that.
According to Times, 30th of November 2006, the Madiran wines contain 2-4 times more of procyanidines compared to other red wines. That means that two small glasses of wine daily, is enough to lower a high blood pressure. Le Quotidien du medecin, a French medicine magazine, said in December 2006 that these ingredients are good for your heart too. The explanation to all this lies in the grape tannat.
Tannat grapes from Madiran
The wine district Madiran is situated across three departements, Gers, Pyrénées Atlantiques and Landes, north of Pau in Aquitaine. Not in the mountains, but on hills where the vineyards benefit from a mild sea climate and clay mixed with chalk.

In the Madiran wine district, four kinds of grapes are allowed. First the famous tannat, which represent 40-50 percent of the total volume. The grape tannat gives the unique taste and structure to the wine. It is often mixed with cabernet franc and cabernet sauvignon, to obtain more softness and finesse. The fourth grape, fer servadou, is rarely used.

This dominating grape tannat makes the young Madiran pretty rough and tough. They need to be stored for at least 2-3 years before they are ready to be drunk. Madiran is actually the only wine with a compulsory storage of minimum one year. It is easy to get hooked on Madiran wine. The tannat grape has something special and once you get used to it... other wines easily seem.... bland. It is a wine that might seem too much on its own, when you are wine tasting without food, but try combining with some meat and you will understand what I mean by getting hooked!

In the same district you will also find a white wine, Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh, a very nice white wine that is close to the Jurançon wines in taste. That hint of acidity that does it! The grapes allowed are arrufiac, gros manseng, petit manseng, courbu, sauvignon and sémillon. The dry white wines have a hint of acidity and a freshness that I adore. The half dry and sweet ones still have that acidity but coupled with aromas of almond and exotic fruits. The sweet wines are obtained by letting the grapes dry out on the branches, concentrating the aromas... but do not mix them up with the dried Sauternes grapes, rottened by a mushroom... these ones are simply dried.

Tannat photo from Wikipedia

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