I left Carcassonne at 5:30 pm and was hoping to reach Madiran before it got dark. Fortunately, it was a beautiful evening with a clear setting sun as I drove west towards the ocean, with Spain two hours to my south.    This drive is the epitome of the French countryside, with beautifully manicured farms, mostly of corn.

dan-restaurantWhen night finally came, I knew that I wasn’t too far from my hotel for the night, the Domain de Bassibe, but it didn’t take long before the little villages, winding roads, and darkness got me lost.  I stopped in a small village hotel and interrupted a family’s dinner to ask for directions.  Proud of my excellent hand signals, and stuttering French, within a few moments I was back on my way, and after 1km, and  “duex droits” I arrived, excited to be in my room in the countryside of Gascony, which was made famous originally by Alexandre Dumas’ novel, The Three Musketeers, as it was d’Artagnan’s home.

dan-vineyardThe next morning I drove to Chateau Bouscasse, owned by the iconic winemaker and visionary, Alain Brumont, where I met their export manager Vincent Thebaud.   After a brief tour and introductions to several members of the Brumont team, we took a 10 minute drive over to Chateau Montus, another Brumont property, to meet with winemaker Fabrice Dubosc for a tour of the winery, and where I would spend the night.  While most of the harvest was already in, there was plenty of work being done in the winery, including the process of punching down the cap to enhance the maceration process, which can last 25-30 days, in order to maximize the extraction of the color and tannins into the wine.

 

dan-cellarLeaving Fabrice to his work, we drove out to the vineyards of La Tyre, one of the flagship wines in Alain Brumont’s growing portfolio, and a wine recognized as one of the finest in France.  A sensational fall day, the golden hews of the vineyard were beautiful.  Vincent explained why this southerly exposed hillside location was the best terroir in all of Madiran, and how Alain Brumont used his knowledge of the area and skillfully researched and purchased all of the best land for producing grapes long before anyone ever knew it was possible to produce great wine here.

Getting hungry, we went back to Chateau Bouscasse, where each day a lunch is prepared for all of the workers, staff and guests, and we sat family style with Alain and Laurence Brumont and enjoyed a meal consisting of many locally grown and raised animals and vegetables.  Alain, as I have come to know, is a man always in motion, always thinking ahead, and full of energy.  While he speaks little English, he looks you in the eye and communicates with an enthusiasm that is contagious, and he has every right to be proud of the tremendous success and contributions he has made to the region and to the wine industry as a whole.

 

dan_forestAll of the staff at Brumont were friendly and great.  They work hard and genuinely seem to appreciate the opportunity to work with and for Alain and Laurence, and they want to see even greater success in the future.  Alain it seems can be a demanding leader, but he leads from the front, and he is greatly loved and respected by his staff.

 

I knew I liked him immediately too.  Within moments of sitting down for lunch he got me to eat some of his fried chicken blood, a local dish, and I couldn’t help but enjoy it and the entire experience.

 

Alain Brumont is a wine icon in France, and in many places in the world, but he is a man who clearly sees that his best days are in front of him.  He drives hard, and I was thrilled when I was able to join him to inspect the vineyards, and watched him literally run, to and from the truck, while checking the vines of the Petit Manseng and Petit Courbu, which will be used in the production of his great dessert wines.  We also went out to a hunting camp on the property, where his longtime vineyard manager was getting it ready for the upcoming Palombe hunting season.  It was a complete outdoor “man cave” camp, similar to the most elaborate Michigan deer camps, and you could feel the excitement when they talked about the upcoming season.

 

In total, Alain Brumont has strategically accumulated over 250 hectares of vineyards, buildings, and facilities, and it doesn’t seem to be over by a long shot.  He is meticulous in everything that he does, and the wines of Chateau Montus and Bouscasse reflect his attention to detail.  I felt blessed to spend time with the gracious family and staff, and I look forward to aggressively carrying on the tradition of Woodberry Wine and Kindred Vines Import Co representing the Brumont family of wines in the United States.

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