French Madiran Wine Best for Longer Life?


Should you dump that glass of Pinot and switch to French Madiran wine?

By now you've probably heard the news that moderate consumption of red wine has been shown across numerous studies to provide a variety of health benefits, with much of the recent focus on one particular component present in red wine, Resveratrol. 

But unfortunately, despite the excitement around the findings about Resveratrol (as we've covered in our past Blog piece, "Red Wine, but Which Kind?") which showed impressive longevity benefits when comparatively large quantities of Resveratrol were given to mice, it would take a ridiculous amount of high-Resveratrol wine for humans to consume the amounts used in the studies. 

Fortunately, there's some exciting new news in the world of wine health benefits: Resveratrol isn't the only game in town when it comes to the longevity and health components in red wine, and you don't need to consume a hundred bottles to get it. 

Welcome to the world of Procyanidins. And welcome to southwestern France, the Tannat grape, and old-world Madiran region winemaking techniques. 

In a fascinating study from the Queen Mary's School of Medicine in London, being published in the journal Nature, scientists studying the markedly higher longevity of men between the various regions in France found a connection between greater health & longevity, and consumption of local red Madiran wines native to this region of southwest France. 

They found that Madiran wines produced in the southwest of France, where men live longer than the average, have higher levels of Procyanidins - which helps repair cells in arteries that feed the heart, have strong antioxidant properties and other health benefits (Procyanidins are also found in such foods as dark chocolate, cranberries and apples, among others, although in lower concentrations than Madiran red wine using the Tannat grape).


Winemakers in the region use their local Tannat grapes and soak them longer with their seeds than most wineries, further boosting the amount of Procyanidins present in the resulting juice. Madiran wines produced in the region are often about 70 percent Tannat, blended with cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc or Merlot. Tannat grapes have also been widely planted in Argentina and Uruguay, with Uruguay producing a large amount of Tannat-based wines.

Okay, so what about those Pinot Noirs, Cabernets and Merlots I've been drinking? Should I switch to Madiran wines made with the Tannat grape? 

Possibly yes, if you're already a wine drinker (in moderation, of course!) and are optimizing your diet for health and longevity. But there's another reason, particularly if you're a red wine lover: these Madiran, Tannat-based wines can be some of the most interesting, complex, earthy wines out there. And they're becoming more and more available outside of France, Uruguay and Argentina...finally.

Here at BrainReady, we're self-admitted red wine fanatics, and our palette has gotten more and more picky, evolved, discerning in recent years (for better or worse). We've been through our Washington wines phase, the California Sonoma period, Australian fat-and-juicy fetish, Spanish and Argentina discovery modes, our Rioja Rampage, and many other phases. But after recently trying several surprisingly inexpensive (usually under $11!) Madiran Tannat-driven wines, Southwest France is where our heart lies at the moment (and hopefully, the wines of this region will in turn help our hearts). 

Most of the Madiran wines we've tried (and a couple Argentina Tannat-driven wines) were absolutely fantastic, particularly for our rather battle-worn palette), with great concentration, complexity, nice mineral notes, and more "life" than most of the French Bordeaux, Burgundy, and Cotes-du-Rhone varietals we've had. And for far less money, an added benefit. No Haut-Brion Bordeaux futures needed here.

Now, a taste warning: for the uninitiated palette, these Tannat-based wines can seem not immediately...well, quaff-able, approachable, or perhaps brutish or too intense, particularly without accompanying foods. 

But when you think about the findings from the London study, the longevity factor, and try to get into the "Southwest France mindset", even the sweet white wine drinkers can quickly come to appreciate the interesting old-world nature of these wines, and after trying different regional ones may quickly realize the wonders of the Tannat grape (and Madiran winemaking techniques) compared to their usual California Merlots and Aussi Shiraz standbys. And for the experienced red wine fan, this region may be your new Walla Walla. At least for a while.


Where to find Madiran, Tannat-based wines: most good wine shops with a decent selection of French varietals should carry at least one or two options (often blends such as the tasty 'Magenta', containing about 60-80% Tannat and the rest Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot for balance). 

Gourmet grocery stores (Whole Foods et al) also usually carry a couple options, and French-focused wine and food specialty shops should carry several. You may also find Argentina or Uruguay wines based on Tannat worth checking out. Also, if you don't find any Madiran Tannat wines at your local wine shop, they can probably order some for you...just ask!

You may also find them at online wine stores, although local shipping restrictions and shipping costs may be more hassle than it's worth, particularly if you have access to decent wine sources locally. 

Lastly, it's important to belabor the point about moderation: remember that just because there are health benefits found in studies of red wine, this is not an excuse to start drinking alcohol, increase your consumption, or drink -- particularly if you have any history of alcoholism (even in your family), have contraindications with alcohol or red wine, or any other reasons why red wine consumption would be inadvisable in your particular case. Everyone is different, so this article applies to those who already safely drink red wine in moderation.

So, set your sights on the delicious wonders of Southwest France - and you may do your health & longevity a favor in the process. 

A Votre Santé!

- The BrainReady Team

Discuss Madiran and Tannat wines below, and share some of your favorites and recommendations - click the 'Comments' button below and discuss!

All Contents (c) 2006-2008 BrainReady Pty Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Medical Disclaimer