THIS WEEK’S LIVESTREAM.

Join in for a 30-minute tasting of Burgundian wines from Domaine du Cellier aux Moines and a talk with owner Philippe Pascal this Thursday. Note that the scheduled time is a half hour later than usual.

OVERVIEW.

The Pyrenees Mountains separating France from Spain are rugged and gorgeous. Historically, some valleys were so remote and isolated during winter that not even the Romans bothered trying to occupy that terrain. Here, shepherds ruled the land. Today, those who live in this region love to hike, bike, ski, paraglide and eat well.

A view from Bagnères-de-Bigorre

1. CHEF.

Mary Graham and her husband Brendan and son Daniel moved from Johannesburg in South Africa—where they ran separate businesses—to live in the highland town of Barèges. They now run a chambre d’hôtes (bed & breakfast) named Les Sorbiers. Mary cooks a dinner for guests, which is excellent.

Mary, Brendan, Daniel

2. DISHES.

Dinner begins with a mozzarella stack—cheese, tomatoes and bread—which is crunchy, savory, and will keep your energy levels high if you are going to hike in the hills the next day or, during winter, hit the slopes during ski season.

This is followed by a salmon risotto with mushrooms. It’s a challenge for non-Italians (who have been making rice dishes since youth) to turn out excellent risotto. However, this dish is a flavored, layered beauty.

I havre no photograph of the Malva and custard dessert, but it was a knockout.

Mozzarella stack – photo by Mary Graham
Salmon risotto with mushrooms

3. WINES.

In the hills before the Pyrenees mountains is the town of Madiran. This is also a wine appellation, where 60% of red wines must include juice from the Tannat grape. This grape is tannic (and today is the signature grape of the country of Uruguay). Additionally, wines include Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Before dinner we drank an excellent bottle of Domaine Dou Bernès Madiran, which includes 95% Tannat and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. Aromas include those of violets and cloves, while the taste is a juicy shot with reminders of such flavors as molasses and cumin.

With risotto and salmon, we enjoyed a Domain Laffont Madiran, made 100% from the Tannat grape. The wine included a bucketful of blueberry and violet aromas, and the tastes include those of orange rind, dark chocolate and sultanas.

Vanessa Girard (right) and assistant at the wine syndicat in Madiran
95% Tannat, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon
Made 100% from Tannat grapes

SCENE & INSIDER ANGLES.

There are three small appellations associated with the French Pyrenees mountains. They are Madiran, Irouléguy and Jurançon. The first two produce tannic red wines, while Jurançon produces whites and reds, as well beautiful, well-priced sweet white wines.

A view of Pyrenees Peaks

Thanks for tuning in. My latest Forbes pieces are here.

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Your photos here and on IG are gorgeous! Hoping to get to this area and Sorbiers before years end.

  2. Friend Jarad Hadi wrote:

    “How I do miss Madiran. It’s always so intense and can be wonderful for the right moment…Sending you positivity and good wishes from Giulia and I. Thank you for the nice articles.”

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