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France's South West

The climate, soil and grape varieties here are almost the same as in Bordeaux – and yet the growing areas in the South West have not yet managed to step out of the shadow of their large neighbour. The dark, aromatic and sometimes truffle-scented Cahors wines, excellent for laying down, are unique.

History

This region has an old wine tradition, but phylloxera hit it very hard: little remained of its former good reputation. The region has been experiencing a revival for some time.

Geography

Located in France's south-western corner, the region borders Bordeaux, Languedoc-Roussillon, the Atlantic and the Pyrenees. The slopes of the hilly landscape face east and south, the steep terraces protecting it from Atlantic influences.

Climate

The Atlantic climate brings humid spring and winter weather, warm summers and often a sunny autumn. Cahors, Fronton and Gaillac are characterized by a different climate. Here the warmth comes from the Mediterranean, and the weather tends to be unstable.

Wines

Jurançon is famous for its white wines of different sweetness, fresh acidity and exotic fruits. From Gaillac, the white wines with a light, dry taste, sometimes sparkling, are the most famous. In Bergerac, the white wines have a very dry to sweet character. The red wines are either strong, full-bodied or with a light finesse. White, elegant, sweet dessert wines are also produced here. The most famous is Monbazillac, which has the character of noble rot grapes, similar to a Sauternes. The red wines from Buzet are Bordeaux-like, with a lot of finesse and charm. Côtes de Duras is an area that produces red wines in the light Bordeaux style. Madiran competes with Cahors wines in terms of storability and color intensity.

Grape Varieties

Whites: Sauvignon blanc, Sémillon and Muscadelle. Reds: cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc and merlot. Local varieties: Mauzac, Négrette, Arrufiac, Baroque and Valdiguié. Also Chenin blanc, Petit and Gros Manseng, Courbu Noir, Folle Blanche, Ondenc, Piquepoul, Ugni blanc, Fer, Duras, Pinot noir and Gamay.

Vineyard area and production volume

Approx. 61,000 ha, over 3.2 million hl/year.

Popular wines from France's South West