01 Chateau Montus, Madiran
It's like the start of a snowball fight. All the flurry and excitement keeping you warm, while the ice seeps slowly into your shoe. That's what's going on here--a gorgeous, powerful showing of 80% tannat and 20% cabernet from southern France that tastes of every speck of dirt these grapes grow in. On first taste and smell, I'd swear there was a pig's leg pickled inside the bottle (in my vernacular, this is a glowing compliment). And the bits of Concord grape, raspberry, and mocha essences, only make that smoky meat taste all the more appealing. But then reality hits--the snow cakes down to the heel--and all is frozen. Tannat becomes tannat again--tannin covered in tannin inside of a tannin shell. An hour later, some fleshy kalamata olive flushes in. This could even be from the Rhone. The cab goes from chocolate and Bordelais mud to a minty nose and a green, balmy aftertaste. If you get hit early, you might be able to numb yourself enough to get through the storm. Me? I'm waiting 'til the summer to come out again.