2011 Ode d'Aydie Madiran

Until I studied and sat for the WSET Level 3 exam, I'd never heard of, or come across 'Madiran', a village in the South West region of France famous for its rich, concentrated Madiran wines made from Tannat grapes. If I thought I knew my wines, Level 3 has taught me otherwise. There is so much more out there in the complex world of wine that I'd never come across, and certainly plenty more to learn, absorb and discover.

I've enjoyed undertaking my wine studies at the New Zealand School of Food and Wine, although I have to admit there were moments when attending eight-hour classes on weekends, absorbing all these new information and attempting to commit them to memory, and the process of studying again (and consequently the fear of failing at something that I care so much about), all while managing a full-time job and being mum to two little boys, had me flailing about like a headless chicken for more times than I care to remember.

That said, it helps to have dedicated and passionate tutors, and I am thankful to have had the opportunity to learn from both Celia Hay and Joelle Thompson, who are both esteemed wine professionals in New Zealand, educators and authors of numerous wine books. More than that, they are passionate, extremely knowledgeable, and excited to share their knowledge and experience, which made all the difference, to me at least.

Incidentally, it was also Celia who brought out this bottle of Madiran during our little celebratory drink session after the group of seven of us had sat for our Level 3 exam. Throughout the course, both Joelle and Celia have tried to provide us with tastings of the wines we learn about from all over the world, and it's been tremendously invaluable in helping me to better understand the different styles and characteristics of each grape, and how factors like climate, soil, altitude and winemaking techniques can influence the wine.  

Consequently, this 2011 Ode d'Aydie Madiran will always be in my memory bank. Inky purple, powerful, firm and with excellent structure, it also has plenty of black fruit characters, dark berries and juicy plums, and a wonderful concentration and finish that makes for excellent aging. 

This is a memorable wine on its own, made even more special because every time I see a bottle of Madiran from now on, it will remind me of my wine studies at the NZSFW over the past three months, the friends I've made who share the same obsessive passion, my wonderful teachers, and most of all,  the beginning of what is hopefully a life-long journey into the professional world of wine writing.


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