Alain Brumont single-handedly proved that world-class wines could be made in Madiran. He inherited Château Bouscassé from his father in 1979, but just a year later purchased Château Montus. In 1985 he produced his first vintage of Montus Prestige, a wine of 100% Tannat that astonished the critics.
Madiran’s most consequential producer, Chateau Montus represents the pinnacle of what the appellation has to offer. The deft handling of the Tannat variety here, the world’s thickest-skinned grape, is met with continued press and accolades many years over. The state-of-the-art winery and sprawling cellar attest to an operation deeply cared-for and meticulously maintained, so impressive in scope as to fully earn its nickname, “The Cathedral of Tannat.”
Brumont now farms almost 200 total hectares, with a maniacal attention to detail. Two thirds of the vineyard surface is covered in native herbs and plants, only cut back after they have flowered and re-seeded. The goal is a richly diverse ecosystem. The rows are oriented to give maximum exposure to both sides of the vine, with the sun overhead at 3p.m. to eliminate roasting the berries. Each vine receives 5 to 7 interventions, with de-budding, leaf-thinning and green harvest where needed.
In the cellar there is no pumping-over during fermentation, just punching-down and treading, a process now done by robot. Only the free-run juice is used in order to ensure finesse and elegant tannins. Wines from the best terroirs are aged in oak barrels. The goal is that the oak should never be obvious but merely frame the terroir and act as a means for the wine to breath whilst ageing (Alain bucks the common trend of micro-oxygenation in Madiran – he maintains a proper barrel regiment introduces the precise oxygen requirement).
If great Bordeaux is baritone in expression, the wines of Montus are surely the basso profundo of the wine world. The top bottlings are all entirely tannat, some aged fully in new oak barrels. It is telling of the Tannat grape and the house style at Montus that the flagship Madiran uses Cabernet Sauvignon as a tempering agent, much like Merlot in Bordeaux. These are wines of powerful structure, richness of fruit and wood, deep tannins, and profound age-ability.