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Domaine Berthoumieu

Domaine Berthoumieu is a small domaine in the village of Viella, in the north of the Madiran appellation. There are several fine growers in Madiran at the moment and Didier Barré of Domaine Berthoumieu is certainly one of the best.
Domaine Berthoumieu was founded in the 1850’s in the commune of Viella (the heart of the area of the famous Three Musketeers of Louis XIV). After being passed down through the generations it was taken over by Marie-Line and Didier Barré, who took over for his father Louis in the 1990’s. Didier was one of many young winemakers at that time greatly inspired by Alain Brumont of Domaine Bouscasse/Chateau Montus fame, who could be called the founder of modern Madiran. Didier attended enology school in Bordeaux and, immediately upon taking over the domaine, lowered the yields in the vineyard and began aging his wines with a judicious amount of oak. He can be credited with turning the domaine into one of the references of the appellation.

Didier Barre’s ( 6th generation winemaker) top cuvee is a superb example of modern Madiran. Didier has continued the family tradition by taking the 26 hectare estate. Current owners Claire and Marion Bortolussi are putting their heart and soul into maintaining this reputation as well as continuing Didier’s passionate work. The domaine’s vines include Tannat (the majority grape and one that thrives here), Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Fer Servadou grapes. There are two types of soil: one a stony clay on a south-facing plateau with a great view of the Pyrenees, and the other a gravelly soil on a southeast-facing slope. They farm the vineyards using lutte raisonée—no chemical treatments are used and the soil is treated gently and naturally. A green harvest is done during the summer to limit the yields to around 3 tons/acre. Harvest takes place late at Berthoumieu—normally around the beginning of October—exclusively by hand.

For the dry white wines (which fall into the unusually named appellation Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh Sec), the grapes are Petit Manseng, Gros Manseng, and Courbu. These undergo a pre-maceration cold soak and are then fermented in both stainless steel and barrique. The wines are then aged in barrique on their lees (with stirring) for 6 months. There is also a sweet Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh with raisinated Petit Manseng and Courbu grapes, which is fermented and aged in barrel. For the red wines, after being completely destemmed, the Cabernet and Tannat are fermented separately in cement tanks. During this time, a bit of micro-oxygenation or microboullage takes place. The wine then goes into oak (50% new) in an underground cellar where it also undergoes malolactic fermentation. After 12 months in wood, it is blended and bottled after a very light filtration.


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