Geoffroy van Lede of le-vin-du-mois.be follows in the footsteps of the pilgrims, heading to discover French wine in the south-west.
You are on the road, a stone’s throw from the Pyrenees. Dreaming of tapas and corridas across the border, you bump into Santiago de Compostela’s pilgrims on the way. The Atlantic wind is blowing in your back, the mountain range stands still and… the vineyards are everywhere! Welcome to the so- called ‘Sud-Ouest‘ (South-west), a French wine region sparkling with diversity.
Influences are plural
Generally, the wines from Sud-Ouest take advantage of an oceanic climate, like the famous red beverages from its Bordeaux neighbour. Actually, this part of France is far wider than expected. Framed by Bordeaux and Toulouse from west to east and by Bayonne and Aurillac from south to north, the landscapes and the soils bring diversity.
That’s why in the North-West part winter is coming… softly and rainy. Summer is breathing water. The celebrated Bergerac was born here and raised on terrace-like plantations. Escaping to the west (and its Côte de Millau), you will face dryer weather and autumn will be as hot as hell. Eventually, approaching the mountain sides, the sun is shining, clouds are hiding and the rain went on holiday some time ago.
A mess of a choice
Knowing the situation, no need to say how different sub-regions or grape varieties are. 30 “labels of origin” and plenty vin de pays make up the lion’s share, uniting red, white, rosé, sparkling or sweet wines. In the red corner, leaders are those attached to Cahors, Madiran or Bergerac : a powerful taste, full of spices that define them. In the white corner, light wines dominate with floral or fruity tastes, especially on the Jurançon and Gaillac labels.
The extent of French wine varieties is so large that above the classical ones (Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot), you can find several names which would surprise you. In red, négrette or fer-séradou are quite common and likewise in white with names like gros manseng, courbu or baroque.
An a little-known and unexpected wine region indeed!
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