Madiran is a sanctuary for red wine, and is located in the heart of Gascony, a region better known for producing Armagnac and white wines (St Mont, Pacherenc, Jurançon).
The Laplace family is recognized as the leading quality producers of Madiran today. They are the owners of Château d'Aydie and descendents of Frédéric Laplace, the founding father of Madiran. Frédéric was the first, pioneering winemaker to bottle and sell his Madiran wine under his own name when the appellation was first created in 1948. At the time, there were only 50 hectares of vineyard under production. This area has steadily increased to 1,650 total hectares which now produce Madiran wines.
Tannat is the grape of Madiran, and it is not an easy-going varietal by any stretch. It is has thick skins, is very late-ripening and very tannic. It is hand-harvested because machine harvesters cannot shake these stubborn grapes off the vine, and typically needs a good amount of time to mellow out.
The grape's inherent orneriness inspired another pioneering experiment by the Laplace relations, resulting in a momentous development for the wine world. In 1991, Patrick DuCournau, a cousin of the Laplace brothers, invented micro-oxygenation, the process of introducing a little oxygen at different times during vinification. The Laplace family and their Château d'Aydie were the first to experiment and benefit from this new technique. This process both revolutionized the way Tannat was vinified in Madiran, and also gained broad usage throughout the world of modern winemaking.
In addition to a little micro-oxygenation to calm Tannat's thorny tannins, Laplace also blends it with Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon, adding complexity and a silky balance.
Andrew Jefford writes about Aydie: "This is one of the most immaculately and professionally run domains in the whole of France." The New France
And according to La Revue du Vin de France, "The wines made here offer very beautiful harmony between the sweetness of the fruit and the firmness of the tannins."