There have been vineyards in Madiran or Vic-Bilh (to give its original dialect name) since the 3rd century and, in the Middle Ages, pilgrims en route for Santiago de Compostela appreciated the wines.
Many producers believe that true Madiran has to be near to 100% Tannat but the appellation allows other grapes like Fer Servadou (called pinenc locally) and Cabernet Sauvignon in there. There are several fine growers in Madiran at the moment and Didier Barré ranks in the first echelon. These wines are perfect expressions of the notion of terroir – they are true to themselves, uncompromising and will develop in their own time. He even has a few rows of gnarled and knobbly 100 year old + Tannat vines. The local dialect uses the word Pacherenc – derived from paishet for ‘posts in a row.’ This refers to the modern method of planting vineyards in regular rows, using a post to support each vine. Vic Bilh is the name for the local hills that are part the Pyrenees foothills, along the Adour River south of Armagnac.