When we moved to the Pyrenees 7 years ago I had little knowledge about the wines of Southwest France other than those from Jurançon and Cahors.
SW France wines simply weren't out there to be seen, most probably because they weren’t made in large volumes, a lot of it was consumed locally and their labelling was terrible.
High on my list of things to do when I arrived was to go and check out some of the wine areas and get to know the wines.
I was, after all, living here and going to be drinking them.
I started with Madiran, one of the closest wine regions to my new home Chez Passet.
I had sourced out some places on the internet to check out and 2 of the more renowned were: Domaine Berthoumieu and Chateau Montus.
A 45min drive took us north on a drizzly overcast March morning past the town of Tarbes and into farming country where we found the small village of Madiran.
A somewhat non-descript village surrounded by fields and vinyards with one road passing through the centre of a few non-descript houses and a church (of course!).
We had thought that Madiran was the centre of the "Madiran" Wine region, however it wasn't, it just seemed to be a village of that name which was a shame as we really couldn't find a sense of where the region actually started and stopped.
Used to looking at wine regions and wineries across the U.S. and Canada we were looking for some form of signage and direction but there was nada, nothing.
We guessed they did things a bit different here!
We did see a wine information sign but when we went to where it pointed the door was locked so we decided to carry on and try to find our first vineyard, Domaine Berthoumieu.
With the absence of any signs we went to a nearby restaurant and asked a lady setting up tables for directions. Her response as she turned and walked away, was that she didn't know.
There was no, “try here they might know”, no help at all.
Ah the French way, they definitely did things differently here…..so helpful!
Luckily we had a Sat. Nav. so we programmed in the address and up a narrow lane we went on our way.
15 minutes of very narrow, winding lanes and not a lot of vines later we were instructed to “turn here”.
“Where? There’s no turning.” I said
Indeed there was a very well camouflaged turning with an equally camouflaged sign to Berthoumieu attached to a tree.
Finally, we had arrived.
Where we were I had no idea.