Have you discovered a few (more) gray hairs? Have you convinced yourself laugh lines are endearing or add character to your face? For a girl who decided years ago her freckles are really lucky spots (I do have the luck of the Irish, afterall), it makes sense I'm all about an optimistic outlook when it comes to (signs of) aging. Of course, I do my part to stay ahead of the curve: I eat healthfully, exercise regularly, take my vitamins, brush my teeth and drink Madiran wines. Wait... what was the last one? YES! I drink from the fountain of youth, aka Tannat-based wines from the Madiran, France. I had no idea the additional health benefits when I first started enjoying red wines from the Madiran. I mean, we've all read various studies about the benefits associated with an occasional glass of red wine. But Madiran wines are additionally beneficial. Tannat, the primary red grape in these wines, has a ridiculously high level of procyanidins. These bad boys have serious heart-healthy cache: they keep the cells in your arteries in the pink, supply your body with boucoups antioxidants and can even lower your blood pressure and keep cholesterol in check.
And no, drinking these wines is not like being forced to eat spinach when you were a kid (my nemesis). As its name connotes, Tannat grapes are high in tannin, producing structured wines capable of aging. But this grape also can bring intense fruit and lovely spices to the table, not to mention a welcome helping of earthiness. In the Madiran in particular, vintners work their magic to bring the latter component forward and soften the wine's edges by blending in a touch of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc or even Fer.
There are two Madiran red wines in particular that strike my fancy: 2004 Domaine Moureou Madiran; and 2003 Chateau Peyros Ville Vignes Madiran. Both are teeth-stainers, rustic, and filled with dark berry fruits (blackberries, blackcurrants, black cherries, etc.), plums and offer a touch of vanilla given up by the oak barrels they age in. The herbs and spices will tickle you pink as each sip reveals a new flavor. Because it is the offspring of wine innovator Patrick Ducourneau (father of micro-oxygenation), the Moureau has a lovely roudness to it. To my palate, the Peyros is destinct in its own right, offering up a unique, delicious and intriguing earthy/stoney minerality. Both are their own beast, ripe for hearty meats, stews or even a Buffalo burger hot off the grill. Try one, try both or seek out others. Just be sure to tell us what you think!
Fun Fact: The Madiran boasts one of the highest percentages of Centarians in the world!