If you’re looking for big Bordeaux Cabernet Sauvignon at half the cost and want a unique addition to your cellar look no further. Welcome to the Basque region of France. More importantly Madiran AOC where the red thick skinned grape varietal Tannat reigns supreme. Never heard of it or tried a 100% Tannat wine (literally meaning “Tannin”)? Well here is a little info to persuade you collectors out there to try it out. Madiran in the South West of France is the largest producer of this highly tannic, rustic, very concentrated red wine due to its location and its unique “terroir”, meaning dirt. Principal factors of the terroir are stony, clay, limestone, and gravelly. Also known as the national grape varietal of Uruguay. Big, bold, and require several, if not decades, of aging; are great wines to pull out of the cellar and experience with meals that are rich in fat, i.e. beef, lamb, game and brawny cheese. Open these wines and decant them so they can breathe for a bit and enjoy. If you’re impatient and can’t wait there are some producers who practice micro-oxygenation, (open vat fermentation/letting oxygen access the wine) with this peculiar grape which in turn softens the wine and makes it more approachable at a younger age. On a side note, this grape varietal is arguably the healthiest to drink of all red wines due to their high levels flavonoids (procyanidins) it contains which lower cholesterol and blood pressure. The residents of Madiran have been documented as living the longest of France’s lovely people. So, wine is all about balance correct? Eat all the fatty meat and cheese you want and drink a ton of Tannat and you should be fine. I’m not an MD! So if you happen to be in the area or in Spain such as Pamplona running with the Bulls and need some protein and great wine, hop over the Pyrenees to the small village of Madiran, about a 3 hour drive, and refuel!