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Learn about wine
Sud Ouest: An impressive line-up of talent
South-West: An impressive line-up of talent
South-West is the name given to a raft of wine areas located in South-Western
France, between Bordeaux to the west and Languedoc-Roussillon in the east.
Interestingly, although Bordeaux is also located in South-Western France, it is
never referred to as such. The South-West is too attached to its own specific
qualities to share its name. It thereby protects its internationally-renowned
It is difficult to sum up the myriad wine styles and diversity of the South-West in
just a few lines. In this land of Cockaigne, the choice of gourmet delights is
endless: dry or sweet wines, supple or robust reds, rosés for quaffing, sparkling
wines, brandies, liqueur wines… This diversity stems from a vast array of
‘terroirs’ though also from highly individual varietal ranges. Although the
Bordeaux varietals (Cabernet-Sauvignon, Merlot, Sauvi-gnon…) are ubiquitous in
some areas, elsewhere originality prevails (see the various appellations).
To simplify, the thirty or so appellations can be roughly divided into five different
-The Bergerac region: this important wine region is the eastward extension of
Bordeaux, travelling upstream and stretching over the Dordogne department.
Although the varietal range and climate differ only slightly from its prestigious
neighbour, the soil types change quite significantly: north of the Dordogne river,
the soils are Perigordian sand whilst to the south, they are a combination of
molasse, marl and limestone. This region is home to red wines (Bergerac, Côtes
de Bergerac, Pécharmant), dry whites (Bergerac sec, Montravel) and sweet
whites (Monbazillac, Rosette, Côtes de Montravel…).
- The wine regions of the Garonne and its tributaries: these highly diverse regions
stretch over the departments of Lot-et-Garonne, Tarn et Garonne, Tarn, Lot and
Haute-Garonne. This is red wine territory, and the wines are predominantly dense
and robust: Buzet, Côtes de Duras, Marmandais, Gaillac, Fronton, Cahors… some
of which are drawn from a highly unusual range of varietals.
- The wine regions of Aveyron: set in the heart of the Massif Central, these
regions cover only a small area and the wines (mostly reds) are drunk locally.
Marcillac is the best known.
- The Pyrenean wine region: this covers Béarn, Gascony and the Basque country,
three regions with a strong personality. In the appellation areas of Irouleguy, Tursan, Madiran, Côtes de Saint-Mont and Béarn, growers are proud to produce
robust, concentrated wines which can take the first-time drinker aback but are
ideal partners for local specialities which abound in preserved meats or meats
served with a sauce. At the other end of the spectrum, Jurançon and Pacherenc
du Vic Bilh produce the most wonderful sweet wines. Armagnac rounds off the
selection with its famous brandies.
- The Cognac region: although technically it is north of Bordeaux, Cognac belongs
to the South-West and is famous the world over for its brandies. An increasing
amount of wines labelled as Vin de Pays Charentais are grown there too. Refer to
the chapter on ‘brandies’.
Review of recent vintages:
2010: defying the effects of climate change, harvesting in the region was
generally several days later than usual, sometimes more. The wines are off to a
promising start, both in terms of fruit and acidity and should produce some great
efforts, particularly reds. Watch this space…
2011: after several small crops, the region returned to more normal levels with
good quality due to favourable weather patterns. Like other parts of France,
weather in the spring was outstanding but July was wet and punctuated by
stormy episodes. August and September were absolutely wonderful, providing
ideal conditions for harvesting from late August onwards, eight days earlier than
usual. Excellent potential, both for the whites (freshness, fruit) and the reds
(colour, structure, fruit).
2012: Following a tricky spring, the region experienced a hot, dry summer that
impeded the ripening of the berries. The whites suffered, but the reds reached a
good level of maturity. Generally a decent vintage, more than likely one that will
be ready to drink soon.
THE SOUTH-WEST APPELLATIONS
Overview: the Bergerac appellation area is located in the Dordogne department,
on both banks of the river of the same name. 90 towns and villages are entitled
to use the appellation. With almost 10,000 hectares under vine, the area has an
extremely varied soil make-up, ranging from calcareous clay soils, to Perigordian
sand and gravel, molasse… The climate is defined predominantly by the ocean, moderated by the coolness of the Dordogne. Red varietals here are
Cabernet-Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec, Fer Servadou and Merille.
White varietals: Semillon, Sauvignon, Muscadelle, augmented with a secondary
range of Ondenc, Chenin blanc and Ugni blanc.
Wine styles: AC Bergerac produces red, rosés and dry white wines. The red wines
are delicate and fruity, supple and elegant. They develop aromas of red fruit
(strawberry, blackcurrant) and vanilla notes. They should be drunk within two or
three years of being harvested and make a pleasant partner for preserved meats,
cooked cold pork meats, poultry and small game birds (quail, thrush…). The
rosés, made from Cabernet-Sauvignon, display an attractive salmon-pink hue.
They are delicate, supple and extremely fruit-forward with great freshness. They
display a fruity (raspberry, banana, blackcurrant) and floral bouquet (violet).
Excellent with cooked cold pork meats, grilled meat or fish. The white wines are
dry, fresh, with a pleasant bouquet. They boast a distinctively lively attack and
good length on the palate. Their aromas range from toasted, spicy and dried
flowers to citrus fruit and vanilla. Try as an appetiser, with fish or shellfish.
Overview: the Buzet appellation area embraces 27 towns and villages in the
Lot-et-Garonne department, along the left bank of the Garonne between Agen
and Marmande. Soil types are reasonably varied, ranging from gravel and
calcareous clay on hillside sites, to ‘boulbènes’ (slaked loamy soils) along the
plateau and the ridge. Red varietals are: Merlot, Cabernet-Sauvignon, Cabernet
Franc and Malbec. For whites: Semillon, Sauvignon and Muscadelle.
Wine styles: the appellation produces red, rosé and white wines. With their
attractive cherry colour, the reds are powerful, deep, fleshy, tannic wines,
reminiscent of wines from Graves. Both wines in fact share virtually identical
varietal ranges. Predominant aromas for the reds are ripe red fruit, animal notes
and spices. The rosés are fresh and fruity, they are pleasantly nervous without
becoming acidic. They exhibit fragrances of small red fruit and pear drops. The
white wines are delicate, with a pleasant bouquet, nervous yet well-balanced,
they retain freshness. They display floral notes, toasted almonds, ripe fruit
(peach). The red wines pair with duck breast, preserved meats, rabbit with
prunes. The rosés match with cooked cold pork meats, grilled white or red meats
and the whites with foie gras, fish, freshwater whitebait or goats’ cheese.
Overview: the Cahors region is located in the Lot department. The soils lay on a
bed of ancient alluvium shaped into terraces or gently rolling hills. They are
meagre, laden with quartz pebbles and siliceous gravel, interspersed with red
clay and iron-rich sand. Along the plateau, the soil is more limestone. The valley
enjoys an extremely unusual microclimate. The area is prone to some treacherous frost in the winter, though it is not particularly wet and autumn is
usually sunny which promotes ripening.
Wine styles: Cahors only produces red wines from the Auxerrois grape variety
(also known as Cot or Malbec). Occasionally, Merlot is added to the blend to
soften the wines. Often dubbed ‘black wine’ because of its extremely dark hue
and highly-present tannins, it is fruity and fleshy when young. Over the first two
to three years, it remains closed before subsequently acquiring fullness and
roundness. Predominant aromas are mushroom, spices, strawberry, prune,
mineral notes and slightly toasted fragrances. In the early years, Cahors pairs
extremely well with foie gras, duck confit or a leg of mutton. A few years down
the line and it can be enjoyed with truffle croustade, ribsteak with ceps or game.
AC Coteaux du Quercy
Overview: this 1999-established AOVDQS embraces 15 villages in the Lot
department and 18 in Lot-et-Garonne, primarily located between Cahors and
Montauban. Cabernet Franc (40% minimum, 60% maximum), though also Cot,
Gamay, Merlot and Tannat (which individually must not exceed 20% of the
varietal range) are grown here.
Wine styles: the red wines, which are relatively robust though less tannic than
neighbouring Cahors, sit well alongside local specialities such as preserved meats
and cassoulet. The rosés pair with cooked cold pork meats, fish or white meat.
A.C. Côtes de Bergerac
Overview: the Côtes de Bergerac appellation, which can be applied to different
colour wines, shares the same boundaries as AC Bergerac, in the Dordogne
department, east of Bordeaux. Soil types are calcareous clay, sand, Perigordian
gravel and molasse from several periods, with the climate strongly defined by the
Wine styles: AC Côtes de Bergerac produces red and white wines. The whites
range from medium-dry to sweet depending on residual sugar content.
The red wines, with their intense, deep colour, exhibit aromas of crystallised fruit
(prune), blackcurrant, spices and vanilla. They are rich, well-structured and fruity
with an excellent propensity for ageing. Enjoy with duck or goose confit, duck
breasts or cassoulet. The sweet white wines display an attractive golden hue.
They combine aromatic freshness (crystallised fruit, honey, citrus fruit, exotic
fruit) with roundness on the palate. As they mature they develop a remarkably
full mouthfeel. They pair well with foie gras, poultry, white meat, fish served with
mousseline sauce, or desserts
A.C. Côtes de Duras
Overview: the Côtes de Duras appellation area is situated in Aquitaine. Every
style of wine is grown here: reds, rosés, dry and sweet whites, on soils of molasse
and compact clay mixed with various types of limestone.
Wine styles: the red wines, drawn from Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc,
Merlot and Malbec boast an attractive colour. They are powerful, fleshy, round
wines displaying aromas of red fruit in brandy and spices. They can be served
with garbure soup, black pudding, boiled chicken…
The rosés are made using the ‘bleeding’ process, and display a floral nose with
red fruit (blackcurrant). They are lively, ethereal wines, well-balanced, combining
freshness, roundness and fruitiness with a long aromatic finish. They are perfect
partners for cooked cold pork meats. The dry white wines (Semillon, Sauvignon,
Muscadelle, Chenin blanc, Ugni blanc) are racy and lively (tangerine, lemon, floral
notes, hazelnut). Enjoy them with shad in a sorrel sauce or eel in a parsley and
The sweet white wines, made from overripe grapes, exhibit a brilliant
straw-yellow hue. They are unctuous, fat and well-balanced with great aromatic
length. Aromas of crystallised fruit, acacia, honey, caramel, prune, crystallised
orange… are all present. Perfect with foie gras or desserts.
AC Côtes de Millau
Overview: Côtes de Millau is the last region in Aveyron to be granted appellation
status (AOVDQS since 1994). The vineyards wend their way along the Tarn river,
embracing 17 towns and villages in Aveyron. The soil is calcareous clay on a bed
of scree in the east and sandstone to the west. Mediterranean and mountain
influences define the climate. Red varietals are: Gamay, Syrah,
Cabernet-Sauvignon, Fer Servadou, Duras. White grapes are Chenin and Mauzac.
Wine styles: Côtes de Millau can be made as reds, rosés or whites. The red wines
are round, well-balanced and harmonious with aromas of wild fruit (blackberry,
wild raspberry). In their early years they can be served with cooked cold pork
meats or poultry. A little patience allows the tannins to mellow. The rosé wines
are fresh and fruity, and the whites well-balanced and supple on the palate.
A.C. Côtes de Montravel and Haut Montravel
Overview: the Côtes de Montravel and Haut Montravel appellation areas share
the same location as Montravel. It is widely held that there is little difference
between the two; the only reason there are two names is apparently because of a
local feud. The vines are planted on a plateau and calcareous clay hillside sites.
The climate is defined predominantly by the ocean, with the moderating influence of the Dordogne. Only white grape varieties are grown here: Semillon,
Sauvignon and Muscadelle.
Wine styles: both appellations produce sweet or noble-rotted wines which display
an unctuous attack, are harmonious, rich, complex and have good cellaring
capacity. Some of the them can also be labelled as Bergerac moelleux.
Predominant aromas are crystallised fruit, orange peel and lemon. They are
suitable as appetisers, with fish served in a sauce and parsley-flavoured cheeses.
Overview: the Saint-Mont region is situated exactly half way between the Atlantic
Ocean and the Pyrenees, in the Adour valley. It covers the departments of Gers
and Landes, centring on the towns of Saint-Mont, Plaisance, Aignan and Riscle.
The soils are gravely (primeur wines), clayey (more distinctive wines) and
calcareous clay (the realm of the white wines). The vineyards enjoy the dual
climatic influence of the Pyrenees and the ocean. Long sunny days in the summer
and autumn promote good ripening. Red varietals are Tannat, Cabernet
Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Fer Servadou. White varieties are Arrufiac,
Clairette, Courbu, Gros Manseng and Petit Manseng.
Wine styles: the appellation produces red, rosé and white wines. The red wines
are rich, fleshy, fruity and heady, though at the same time elegant (aromas of
black fruit, prune, cherry, blackberry, mild spices). The rosés are fresh, fruity and
well-constituted with a full mouthfeel. The white wines are full, round and
aromatic. The reds can be paired with red meat, poultry, game served with a
sauce and cheeses. The rosés are well suited to barbecues (particularly lamb),
paella, starters and mixed salads. The whites complement white meat (stuffed
veal rolls, chicken Basquaise), shellfish and fish.
AC Côtes du Brulhois
Overview: Côtes du Brulhois wines are grown south of the Garonne valley, in an
area straddling the departments of Lot-et-Garonne, Tarn-et-Garonne and Gers
over 42 towns and villages. The soil is shaped into terraces or spread over stony,
gravely and calcareous clay hillsides. The climate is defined both by ocean and
Mediterranean influences. The area is home to Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet
Franc, Merlot, Malbec, Fer Servadou and Tannat.
Wine styles: Côtes du Brulhois can be either red or rosé. The red wines, which are
described locally as ‘black wines’, are powerful, full and velvety. They are rustic
wines displaying aromas of blackcurrant, cherry, redcurrant, leather, toast and
spices. Try with preserved meats, ceps, cassoulet or red meat. The rosé wines are
made on a boutique scale and are also powerful and fruity. They should be served
at a sit-down meal, with cooked cold pork meats or barbecued meats.
Overview: the Fronton wine region (Côtes du Frontonnais prior to 2007) is near
Toulouse in the Tarn-et-Garonne and Haute-Garonne departments. The vines are
grown on alluvium gravel terraces on a bedrock of molasse. Ocean and
Mediterranean-type climates meet here and although the varietal range is varied
– Gamay, Merille, Cinsault, Mauzac – the dominant grape is Negrette.
Wine styles: Fronton can be either red or rosé. The red wines are powerful with a
ruby-red hue. They are well-structured and elegant with aromas of blackcurrant,
raspberry, prune, floral notes (peony, violet) and spices (pepper). The rosés are
both distinguished and easy-drinking wines. On the palate, they are aromatic with
slightly acidulous notes (raspberry, blackcurrant, peach, pear, acacia blossom).
The reds pair well with cassoulet, grilled red meats or game. The rosés can be
served with fatty fish, barbecues or mixed salads.
A.C. Côtes du Marmandais
Overview: set on the border with Gironde, in Lot-et-Garonne, Côtes du
Marmandais is the natural extension of Graves and Entre-deux-Mers. It covers 27
towns and villages, 18 of which are located along the right bank of the Garonne
and 9 on the left bank. The soils are gravely and calcareous clay on a bedrock of
limestone molasse. The climate is defined primarily by the ocean although it is
also influenced by the Pyrenees. The vines enjoy a favourable aspect, with
plentiful sunshine, which promotes optimum ripeness. The varietal range
embraces Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Abouriou, Cot, Fer,
Gamay and Syrah. For the whites: Sauvignon, Semillon, Ugni blanc and
Wine styles: the appellation produces red wines, rosés made predominantly using
the ‘bleeding’ method, and white wines. The red wines are supple and aromatic:
stewed fruit (prune, blackcurrant, raspberry) and spices (pepper, vanilla). Try with
poultry, leg of lamb, grilled meat, game or cheese. The rosés are fresh, pleasant
wines (red fruit, exotic fruit). They combine power with finesse, which makes
them the ideal partner for barbecued meats, delicately-flavoured cooked cold
pork meats, white meat, or fruit salad. The white wines are dry, aromatic and
extremely fruity. They sit nicely alongside shellfish or fish.
A.C. Floc de Gascogne
Overview: AC Floc de Gascogne is a liqueur wine blended from grape juice and
Armagnac, grown in the Gers, Landes and Lot-et-Garonne departments. The
appellation covers an area under vine of 750 hectares and the wines can only be
made within the confines of the Armagnac appellation area. Every year, 10% of Armagnac is actually used to make Floc de Gascogne, which is blended from
two-thirds fresh grape juice drawn from Gascony grape varieties, and one third
young Armagnac. Once the two are blended, the resultant wine then spends the
next ten months in the cellar.
Wine styles: Floc de Gascogne can be either white or rosé and should be drunk
within its first year. The whites are made from the white varietals Colombard,
Ugni blanc and Gros Manseng. They are rich, generous and full, with a freshness
that provides balance. The rosés are drawn from Cabernet Franc, Cabernet
Sauvignon and Merlot. They are soft and extremely aromatic with predominant
flavours of kirsch. The whites make perfect appetisers or can be paired with foie
gras, melon and desserts (fresh fruit salad for instance). The rosés pair with apple
tart, foie gras or melon.
Overview: the Gaillac wine region is situated 50 kilometres from Toulouse in the
Tarn department. It stretches northwards along both banks of the river Tarn to the
mediaeval walled town of Cordes. Gaillac can be divided into four clear-cut
‘terroirs’: the terraces along the left banks of the Tarn with their poor gravel soils,
the valley floor and its sand and deep gravel, the clay and calcareous clay along
the hillocks and the predominantly limestone plateau.
Wet springs and long, dry late autumns are the defining climatic characteristics.
The sparkling wines are made either by the handcrafted method using natural
grape sugars or by the traditional method. Either way, secondary fermentation
takes place in the bottle. Harnessing the gas produced during alcoholic or
malolactic fermentation gives dry whites a slight sparkle.
Wine styles: Gaillac wines cover a broad range of styles, from reds to dry whites,
sweet whites or sparkling. Red wines are the region’s mainstay, with an 80%
share, and they are well-balanced, fragrant quaffing wines when they hail from
the plateau. The hillside sites produce more robust wines with mellowed tannins
and a harmonious finish. Wines grown along the gravel soils of the left bank are
powerful with dense body and well-integrated tannins. Aromas of blackcurrant,
green pepper and spices (pepper) are present. Try with beef and vegetable stew,
duck casserole or rabbit stew.
The dry whites are slightly sparkling, fruity, floral wines with abundant freshness
and suppleness. They are perfect with freshwater fish. The Mauzac varietal sweet
white wines are rich and mild (musk, apple pips). They pair well with foie gras,
roquefort cheese or gateaux. The sparkling wines display characteristic notes of
apple, citrus fruit, ripe fruit and honey. Drink as an appetiser.
Overview: the Irouleguy wine region is located in the Pyrenees-Atlantiques
department, in Basque country. The vines grow on siliceous clay and calcareous
clay hillside sites with high iron oxide content where they enjoy a favourable
aspect and are sheltered from the wind. This allows them to soak up maximum
sunshine, particularly in the autumn. The co-operative winery is the region’s
foremost producer though there are also some independent wineries.
Wine styles: the red wines (Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Tannat) display
a bright, deep hue and boast a solid framework. They are often compared to
Madiran though possibly have less body, are more rustic and exhibit great
fragrance. They display an intense bouquet of wild red and black fruit (bilberries,
blackberries) and pepper (Espelette). Try with cooked cold pork meats, roast
meats (lamb) or ewe milk cheeses. The rosés, which are lively and quite light,
pair well with tomato and pepper omelette, fish or seafood. The white wines
(Courbu, Manseng) are fat and well-balanced. Their floral, exotic fruit (mango)
and grapefruit tones give their freshness a boost. Perfect with fish and shellfish.
Overview: the Jurançon wine region covers 700 hectares located south and west
of Pau, in the foothills of the Pyrenees. Soil types are calcareous clay and
siliceous clay and the ground is scattered with pebbles which retain heat during
the day and release it by night. The vines grow here in a unique environment.
The climate combines ocean influences (well-distributed rainfall) with
mountain-type characteristics (risk of spring frosts). The south south-east facing
plots enjoy plentiful sunshine and are sheltered from northerly winds. The vines
grow at heights of 1.7 m. The Camaralet (15% maximum), Courbu, Gros
Manseng, Lauzet (15% maximum) and Petit Manseng thrive in these conditions. A
combination of hot daytime temperatures followed by cool nights is highly
conducive to the production of sweet wines as it boosts the natural sugar content
in the grapes. Fruit for the noble-rotted wines is harvested late in the season
(November, or occasionally December).
Wine styles: the appellation only produces dry and sweet white wines. The dry
white wines are fruity and aromatic (aromas of broom, acacia and passion fruit
leading into toasted almond, dried fruit and truffle tones as they age). They can
be served with shellfish and fish. The noble-rotted wines are fleshy, silky and
harmonious. By and large they boast excellent cellaring capacity. The fruit on the
nose is repeated on the palate: honey, white flowers (acacia, wild rose,
hawthorn), candied fruit (apricot, orange, quince), fresh, warm bread and spices.
Serve with foie gras or Pyrenean cheeses.
Overview: the Lavilledieu wine region is situated west of Montauban in the
Tarn-et-Garonne department. It covers 13 villages. Soil types are fine loam and silica on a bedrock of large stones or iron-rich hardpan. The climate is defined by
both ocean and Mediterranean influences. The wines are aged either in tanks or
Wine styles: Lavilledieu wines can be either red or rosé and are blended from
Negrette, Mauzac, Bordelais, Morterille, Chalosse, Gamay, Syrah and Fer
Servadou. The red wines are well-constituted with well-integrated tannins. They
are delicate and harmonious with aromas of red and black fruit (raspberry,
blackcurrant, bilberry, strawberry) and liquorice and vanilla notes. A good match
for duck or goose confit. The rosés are light, soft, highly-fragrant quaffing wines
(floral and fruity notes, fragrances reminiscent of grenadine and pear drops).
They pair well with barbecued meats, cooked cold pork meats and starters.
Overview: Madiran stretches across three departments: Gers, Hautes-Pyrenees
and Pyrenees-Atlantiques, embracing 36 towns and villages (27 in
Pyrenees-Atlantiques, 6 in Hautes-Pyrenees and 3 in Gers). It shares the same
area as the Pacherenc du Vic Bilh appellation where the soils are siliceous clay
and calcareous clay. The nearby Atlantic has a moderating influence on the
climate, making it slightly milder and wetter.
Wine styles: AC Madiran is a red wine only appellation where the primary varietal
is Tannat. With their dense, extremely deep garnet-red colour, Madiran wines are
rich in tannins, powerful, robust and well-constituted. They have an outstanding
capacity to age though as young wines they can be harsh, particularly when
Tannat is the mainstay of the blend. Principal aromas are black fruit, roasted
coffee and spices. Food pairings include duck confit or breast, meat served with a
sauce, lamb and ewe milk cheeses.
Overview: the Aveyron department is home to this appellation, which stretches
over a dozen villages west of Rodez. The soils are made up of clay with high iron
oxide content as well as limestone and marl, along the rim of the limestone
plateau. The area is blessed with a microclimate conducive to growing vines
which enjoy a favourable aspect due to their situation, on extremely steep
hillside sites or terraces supported by dry stone walls. The wines are vinted
traditionally at controlled temperatures and are aged either in tanks or barrels.
Wine styles: Marcillac produces both red wines from the Fer Servadou grape
variety and rosés. The red wines are tannic, clean and warm with aromas of red
fruit, spices, fern and green pepper. They pair well with sophisticated meat
dishes, aligot (a local speciality made from mashed potatoes, fresh cheese and
garlic), tripe or Bleu des Causses cheese. The rosés, which in some respects are a
reflection of the ‘terroir’, are a great match for cooked cold pork meats.
Overview: the Monbazillac wine region is located south of Bergerac, along the left
bank of the Dordogne. It is France’s largest producer of noble-rotted sweet wines
(with an average annual production of 50,000 hl). The vines (Semillon, Sauvignon
and Muscadelle) are planted on hillside sites and calcareous clay plateaux. A
mantle of fog frequently covers the vines on Autumn mornings, lifting during the
day to make way for radiant sunshine. This provides ideal conditions for the
formation of botrytis cinerea, a prerequisite for producing great sweet wines. As
with Sauternes, the grapes are harvested by painstakingly combing through the
vineyards time after time as each berry ‘roasts’. Once they have been pressed,
the resultant juice may have a natural content of up to 20% by volume. The
wines are made in the ordinary way and then undergo ageing, usually in barrels,
for at least a year.
Wine styles: Monbazillac can only produce noble-rotted white wines. They display
a golden hue and boast unrivalled fat and unctuousness, bolstered by a touch of
nervousness on the finish. They have an excellent propensity for ageing. Principal
aromas are honey, acacia, peach, candied fruit. Suitable food pairings include
foie gras, fatted chicken in a cream sauce, blue cheese from Auvergne or
Overview: the Montravel appellation area sits between Bordeaux and Bergerac. It
forms an enclave, surrounded by Côtes-de-Castillon, from which it extends
outwards, Entre-deux-Mers and the Sainte-Foy-Bordeaux area. Fifteen villages
stretching along the right bank of the Dordogne are entitled to the appellation.
The vines grow either on a calcareous clay plateau or on gravely terraces over an
Asteries limestone bedrock.
The climate is strongly defined by the ocean and is hot though with the
moderating coolness of the Dordogne. Some wines are vinted and aged on the
lees which imparts greater structure and roundness.
Wine styles: Montravel is a dry white wine drawn from Semillon, Sauvignon and
Muscadelle. Boasting a pale yellow hue, they are lively on the palate though not
acidic. Growers who choose to do so can label their wines as Bergerac sec.
However, red and rosé wines grown within this area are only entitled to the
Bergerac or Côtes de Bergerac appellations. The aromas are floral, mineral
(gunflint) and blackurrant bud. They can be served with poached trout or pike
with melted butter.
A.C. Pacherenc du Vic Bilh
Overview: the Pacherenc du Vic Bilh appellation shares the same area as Madiran,
embracing 36 towns and villages split between three departments: Gers,
Hautes-Pyrenees and Pyrenees-Atlantiques. The soils are siliceous clay and
calcareous clay. The climate is defined by the ocean and is thus mild and damp.
Wine styles: the appellation produces white wine which can range from dry to
sweet depending on the weather. It is made from Arrufiac, Courbu, Petit Manseng,
Gros Manseng, Sauvignon and Semillon. The dry white wines usually display a
lively attack leading into a round mouthfeel. They develop aromas of white
flowers and exotic fruits with an extremely pleasant acidulous finish. Try with
shellfish or fish in a sauce. The sweet wines are powerful, warm and extremely
fragrant (pineapple, orange peel, honey). On the palate, their freshness is
unexpected. They are enjoyable as appetisers or with foie gras or ewe milk
Overview: Pecharmant is grown on the outskirts of Bergerac, in the Dordogne
department, along the right bank of the river of the same name. The soils are
predominantly siliceous clay on a subsoil of clay and Perigordian sand. The vines
are planted on terraced sites, thereby enjoying a suitable aspect though
occasionally they are affected by spring frosts. Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet
Franc, Merlot and Malbec are blended into this red wine only appellation.
Wine styles: AC Pecharmant produces only red wines. They boast a deep
garnet-red hue and are generous, robust wines with remarkable structure and
cellaring capacity. Principal aromas are plum, nectarine and jammy fruits. They
are a marvellous match for goose or duck confit, rump steak with oyster
mushrooms, royal hare stew and game.
A.C. Pineau des Charentes
Overview: Pineau des Charentes is produced in both Charente departments, in
the same area as Cognac. It is actually a blend of fresh grape juice and Cognac
(mistelle). Once the fruit is pressed, the juice is left for 24 hours in tanks before
oak-aged Cognac is added to arrest fermentation. Pineau then matures in oak
barrels for at least 1 year before being bottled. These liqueur wines are made
from Ugni blanc, Colombard, Folle blanche, Cabernet, Malbec and Merlot. To
warrant the appellation, Pineau must comply with stringent regulations. The
Cognac must come from the same farm as the fresh grapes and must have an
ABV of at least 60%. The resultant Pineau has an ABV of between 16 and 22%.
Wine styles: Pineau des Charentes can be either white or rosé. The whites display
an amber-yellow colour with golden tints. They are fat, round and aromatic with
great length on the palate: dried fruit (walnuts, almonds), honey, quince paste
and often slightly oxidised notes, of varying intensity. The rosés display a crimsonhue with brick-red tints. They are delicate and extremely fruity, both on the nose
and on the palate: red and black fruit (blackberry, blackcurrant, morello cherry).
The whites and the rosés can be savoured as appetisers, or partnered with foie
gras, fruit-based desserts (melon, tarts, fruit salad) or chocolate.
Overview: Rosette is set in rolling hills near Bergerac in the Dordogne
department. Urban sprawl has reduced its area under vine to less than 100
hectares. The vines are planted on gravely clay soils and the climate is defined
by the ocean though with a southerly influence. The noble-rotted grapes are
picked in stages then pressed, vinted and subsequently aged, primarily in oak.
Wine styles: the appellation only produces sweet white wines on a boutique
scale, blended from Semillon, Sauvignon and Muscadelle. They are straw-yellow
in colour, supple, fat and elegant; their freshness imparts balance. As for aromas,
their bouquet is floral and fruity. Rosette can be served as an appetiser, with
seafood, mushroom or truffle-based starters or foie gras.
Overview: Saussignac is grown west of Bergerac, along the left bank of the
Dordogne. The area embraces four villages. The soils are calcareous clay or fine
grain sandy clay (‘boulbènes’) which can easily become impermeable. The
noble-rotted grapes are picked in stages then pressed in the normal way, vinted
and subsequently aged, primarily in oak.
Wine styles: the Saussignac appellation produces only sweet white or
noble-rotted wines. The sweet whites are supple and well-balanced. The
noble-rotted wines are full, rich and fat and will only fully reveal their opulence
after a few years’ ageing. Predominant aromas for the sweet whites are honey,
flower (linden) and citrus fruit (grapefruit), whilst the noble-rotted wines display
primarily floral (acacia) and fruit aromas (peach, nectarine). Serve with foie gras,
cream soups and desserts.
Overview: the Tursan wine region is situated south-east of Mont-de-Marsan, in the
Landes and Gers departments where it embraces 41 towns and villages. The
vines occupy rolling hills where the soil make-up is clayey silica, limestone and
stones. The region enjoys a mild, temperate ocean climate. A broad range of
grape varietals is grown here: Tannat, Bouchy, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet
Franc, Fer Servadou and Pinenc for the reds. Baroque, Sauvignon, Petit Manseng,
Gros Manseng, Claverie, Cruchinet, Raffiat, Gers Claret and Clairette for the
whites.Wine styles: the red wines are powerful, well-constituted and full of finessse (wild
fruit and fern notes). They enhance duck or goose breast, wood pigeon casserole,
jugged hare, roast beef or foie gras with grapes. The rosés are fresh, fruity
quaffing wines which reward early drinking and pair with cooked cold pork meats
and mixed salads. The white wines are dry, lively, fruity and pleasing to the
palate. They are a particularly good match for oysters, fish (salmon, trout), hors
d’ouvre or foie gras.
AC Vins d'Entraygues et du Fel
Overview: Entraygues et du Fel wines are grown in the departments of Aveyron
and Cantal. The area covers around 20 hectares under vine on shale hillsides in
Fel and ‘barene’ type and granite soils in Entraygues. A broad range of grape
varietals is grown here: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Fer Servadou,
Abouriou, Gamay, Jurançon noir, Merlot, Mouyssages, Negrette, Pinot noir, Duras
and Castel for the reds. Chenin blanc, Roussellou and Mauzac for the whites.
Wine styles: the wines of Entraygues et du Fel can be either red, rosé or white.
The red wines are sturdy and bear the hallmark characteristics of their ‘terroir’.
Occasionally they are described as rough though they can also be approachable
quaffing wines intended for early drinking. Try with tripe, Auvergne-style stew or
lamb. The rosés are aromatic (red fruit and almond notes), racy and velvety. They
pair well with cooked cold pork meats and barbecued meat. The white wines are
dry, vigorous and extremely fragrant (broom, acacia, linden, gunflint, citrus fruit).
On the palate, they reveal aromas of apple and almond. Try with shellfish.
AC VINS D'Estaing
Overview: AOVDQS Estaing wines are grown in the departments of Cantal and
Aveyron. The shale or calcareous clay soils provide a foothold for the vines along
the abrupt hillsides overlooking the Lot valley.
Wine styles: Estaing wines can be either red or white. The red wines are delicate
and fruity (red fruit, green pepper) and reward early drinking with roast meat and
game (jugged hare, leg of venison…). The white wines are dry and fruity with an
after-taste of gunflint. They are good partners for fish and seafood.