The southwest most famous siblings, Cahors and Jurancon, have added some other great names and gladly many know today, such as Madiran, Cotes de Gascogne, Pacherenc de Vic Bilh, Fronton, Irouleguy...
The region has stepped up as today on the global market one needs large shoulders and strong believes as the competition is fierce and without mercy. Today we have the luxury of choice and accessibility, price and variety. So the Southwest of France what about it..........
Appellation Southwest of France
It is thought that most likely around 125 BC the first vines were planted here by the Romans. The first ones is thought to be around the commune of Gaillac. Relics of earthenware wine vessels were found in Spain and Scotland shown that Gaillac was already exporting North and South from the border as early as the 2nd Century.
In the early middle-ages Catholic monasteries were popping up a bit everywhere, the monk took on the task of cultivating vines and producing wine, which with time found their way to the tables of Kings and courtship and of course to the altars of priests and Bishops. This part of France was not only a trade route it was also the way of St James, a medieval pilgrim route, tracking through the Pyrenees up to Santiago de Compostela.
From as early as the 10th Century pilgrims from across Europe used this route to reach the sacred site, of course with passing and coming they tasted and took with them wines from Gaillac, Cahors, Fronton Madiran and more.....
It didn't take long for Bordeaux to take advantage of its strategic position as the regions main port. Bordeaux winemakers who were producing at the time inferior wines, began blending the higher quality wine from their upstream neighbours with their own to improve their marketability. Bordeaux gave then its own wines priority and started to tax heavily the wines from Cahors and other Southwestern regions, so edging the neighbour out of competition. This lasted up from the 13th Century up to the French revolution ending in 1799.
So geographically it is sitting between Bordeaux on the Atlantic side and the Languedoc-Roussillon on the mediterranean side. It is often described today as a place that is hidden or undiscovered. The Southwest of France is a green jewel of terraced vineyards, rolling hills and scenic mountain villages. Southwest largest city is Toulouse also known the Pink city, home of Airbus and Jazz.
The appellations of the Southwest
Grapes: (white) Chardonnay, Chenin blanc, Semillon, Sauvignon blanc, (red) Cabernet franc, Cabernet-Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah
Grapes: (white) Chardonnay, Chenin blanc, (reds) Cabernet-Sauvignon, Duras, Fer Servadou, Merlot and Syrah.
Grapes: (red) Abouriou, Cabernet-Sauvignon, Cabernet franc, Fer Servadou, Malbec, Merlot, Tannat.
Brulhois red 60% of the production, Brulhois rose 40% of the production.
Grapes: (red) Malbec, Merlot, Tannat.
Cahors Red 100% of the production
Grapes: (white) Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Gros Manseng, Colombard, Loin de l'Oeil, Mauzac, Muscadelle, Petit Manseng, Semillon, Sauvignon blanc, Ugni blanc, (red) Cabernet-Sauvignon, Cabernet franc, Fer Servadou, Duras, Gamay, Malbec, Merlot, Negrette, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Tannat.
As it lays in the middle of the Southwest appellations it is influenced both from the Atlantic and the Mediterranean .
Grapes: (red) Cabernet franc, Gamay, Merlot, Malbec, Tannat.
Coteaux de Quercy red 100% of the production.
Grapes: (red) Tannat, Merlot, Cabernet franc, Cabernet-Sauvignon. (White) Colombard, Ugni blanc, Gros manseng, Sauvignon blanc, Chardonnay.
Grapes: (red) Cabernet franc, Cabernet-Sauvignon, Merlot, Tannat, Malbec, Segalin, Syrah, Gamay. (white) Chenin blanc, Chardonnay, Sauvignon blanc, Viognier, Semillon.
Grapes: (red) Cabernet-Sauvignon, Cabernet franc, Gamay, Servadou, Syrah, Merlot, Duras. (white) Chardonnay, Sauvignn blanc, Muscadelle, Loin de L'Oeil, Mauzac.
But wines here have been for long the wine of kings as they choose it as their wine of preference. Much character and identity.
Grapes: (red) Negrette, Syrah, Cabernet sauvignon, Cabernet franc.
Grapes: (red) Duras, Braucol/ Fer Servadou, Gamay, Prunelard. (white) Loin de L'Oeil, Mauzac, Muscadelle, Ondenc.
Gaillac red 64% of the production, Gaillac white, sweet and sparkling 27% of the production, Gaillac rose 9% of the production.
Today it is a region with wines full of character, vibrancy and aromatic.
Grapes: (red) Cabernet franc, Cabernet-Sauvignon, Tannat. (white) Gros manseng, Petit Courbu, Petit Manseng.
Fronton red 70% of the production, Fronton white 10% of the production, Fronton rose 20% of the production.
Grapes: (white) Gros manseng, Petit manseng, Courbu
Juranson white sweet 60% of the production, white dry 40% of the production.
Grapes: (red) Cabernet Franc, Cabernet-Sauvignon, Tannat.
Madiran red 100% of the production.
Grape: (red) Mansois/ Fer Servadou
Marcillac red 100% of the production
Grape: (white) Arrufiac, Gros Manseng, Petit Courbu, Petit Manseng.
Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh white 100% of the production, it varies if there is more dry or sweet produce depending on the weather conditions.
Grapes: (red) Tannat, Pinenc/ Fer Servadou, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet-Sauvignon
Saint Mont red 50% of the production, Saint Mont white 20% of the production, Saint Mont Rose 30% of the production.
Grapes: (red) Cabernet-Sauvignon, Cabernet franc, Fer Servadou, Tannat.
Cabidos 2008 Vins de Pays Atlantique Sauvignon Vin sec.
Grape: Sauvignon blanc 100%
Price: €13.00 $15.00 £9.80
Visual: Warm straw yellow colour, perfect limpidity, ok brilliance, heavy legs, mature but feminine, beautiful presentation, inviting.
Nose: Cooked juicy white fruits, apples, melons (cantaloupe), oak, citrus, lime, little overripe lemon, bergamot, green tea, cabbage.
Palate: Round, soft, heat, white fruits, good balance, medium long, fairly heavy.
Conclusion: This wine has already 7 to 8 years of age and it was pleasantly fresh and from this region one would not always think it is possible. You do get the age in the wine as its complexity turns to much overripe and cooked fruits also its acidity is lacking so I think the best time to drink this wine was most certainly 3 years ago, but observing the way it ages gracefully I think that this is a good example how far the south west have come to prove that it can make great wines. This is a wine with a solid structure and good back bone, with fish this wine will work greatly, even juicy chicken.
Score: I rate this wine 17.9/20 79/100 (rated as a good wine)
Until next time please do drink responsible.