Being partial to the odd glass of red wine, I was keen to spend some time touring the Madiran wine region while I was in Béarn. The area is known for its full-bodied, robust red wines, and produces a less well known white, the Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh, too. Following a map of the Madiran wine region in my guide book, we set out for a road trip around the vineyards.
Our trip started in the small bastide town of Lembeye and followed the D13 through the villages of Castillon, Arricau-Bordes, Cadillon and Conchez-de-Béarn. The countryside was pleasant enough during this part of the route, but I was surprised by how few vineyards we saw. There was field after field of corn, but only the occasional grape vine, and if it wasn’t for my trusty map, I wouldn’t have known we were in wine country.
After the first leg of our journey, we crossed the hills to the village of Aydie and we finally started to see lots of vineyards (above). We briefly stopped in the tiny village to look around, only to find there wasn’t much more to it than a few houses, a church and a château, but it was very quaint and delightful. Plus the outskirts were full of vineyards!
We continued along the route and decided to stop again in the region’s namesake town, Madiran, which turned out to be a very charming little place. Sadly, pretty much everything in the town was closed when we arrived, including the lovely looking church that dated from the 11th century (above). So after a brief tour of the deserted town, we hopped back in the car and continued our journey.
Our next and final stop was Crouseilles where the Crouseilles-Madiran wine co-op is based, and where we planned to sample and buy some wine – the only problem was finding it. We got horribly lost following the D648 as instructed by the map, when the road seemingly turned into a dirt track with lots of crossroads and no signposts. After a few wrong turns, we eventually made our way to Crouseilles and found the local wine merchant in the château (above).
The wine shop was full of bottles of Madiran and Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh at prices to suit all budgets – some were cheap, others were wildly expensive. The wine merchant was really friendly and let us try various wines while we decided which ones to buy. Armed with a good few bottles of Madiran (above) and Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh, our road trip was over, and it was time to head back towards the main road and our gîte.