Domaine Berthoumieu is a small domaine in the village of Viella, in the north of the Madiran appellation. Claire and Marion Bortolussi now manage its 26 hectares in the heart of the glorious Gascony countryside on stony clay soil, watered by the rain from the Pyrennees. The wines offer tremendous character and style, genuine 'vins de terroir', and some of the best in the appellation.
The domaine has two different plots: one on a pebbly clay plateau to the west of the village facing south towards the Pyrenees, and the other a gravelly slope facing south east to the east of the village. Tannat thrives here; its dark, chewy, liquorice character perfectly matching the rich, gutsy cuisine of confit d’oie and magret de canard. It is the land of the Musketeers and Charles de Batz, who was born in nearby Lupiac, was the original Comte d’Artagnan and has lent his name to Berthoumieu’s premium cuvées of Madiran and sweet Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh.
Aside from practicing more traditional forms of reasoned viticulture and being certified HVE Level 3, Domaine Berthoumieu adheres to the Tonyx method of viticulture – a biodynamic style of farming that utilises natural vegetal and mineral-derived preparations to replace trace elements, to boost micro-diversity and to energise the soils, thereby strengthening the vines’ protective defences and making them more resistant to disease.
Various practices of qualitative management are undertaken in the vineyard, such as thinning out the leaves to get the best maturation possible and green harvesting to limit yields. By offering its wines through local négociant Lionel Osmin & Cie, a member of the Planete Urgence programme, a tree is planted for every case of AOP wine sold – by the end of 2018 some 43,000 trees had been planted. From 2019, the estate will be introducing its first cuvée to be bottled without added sulphites.