We stepped out of the rental minivan at Capmartin and were first greeted by the smell of wet leaves, gravel, and bay berry. Simon Capmartin introduced himself and led us quickly out of the rain and into the tidy, cold tasting room.
His father, and the estate’s founder, popped his head in just to say bonjour before we began to taste. We started with the most recently bottled dry Pacherenc du Vic Bilh, the appellation reserved for the region’s white wines, which are comprised of a blend of gros manseng and petit manseng. We would end the first round of tasting with a couple of the more traditional, semi-sweet versions of this wine. A simple, Provençal-style rosé of appellation Béarn was next, before the lineup of reds.
The first red was a small production of syrah, bottled as Côtes de Gascogne, which was simple, fruity, and maybe a bit varietal atypical. The next three were appellation Madiran, which feature the often unwieldy tannat variety. Over lunch, Simon acknowledged the difficulty marketing Madiran, both in France and abroad, for the region’s reputation of producing backward, sometimes undrinkably tannic wines. It required a certain effort and knowledge of the craft of winemaking to remedy this, which he feels is becoming more common among his few peers. The Capmartin reds demonstrate this, as while each was more powerful than the previous, the tannins remained in check, and each maintained balanced.
We already work with the old vine bottling, which is a must-try for fans of cabernet and other big, we’ll-structured reds. Look for a junior version to hit our shelves soon, which possesses an unexpected freshness about it.
On to the next!