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Home arrow Wine regions arrow France arrow France South West

France South West

It is through the wine region of South West that winemaking has spread across France from the 1st century AD. However, almost throughout their history, wine regions of the South West remained in the shadow of Bordeaux, whose traders bought and exported South Western wines and were selling them as Bordeaux wines. This historical dimension confers a common character to the wines of the South West, whose style has long been influenced by the wines of Bordeaux. However, there are traditions and local grape varieties that give today a specific character to each South West wine.

History wines South-West

The Romans locate viticulture Gaillac to the 1st century AD in response to the demand for wine by the Gauls.

Several amphorae found evidence of the road from Narbonne to Bordeaux and then to the British islands, passing through Toulouse and along the river Garonne.
From the 14th century, Bordeaux begins to serve markets English. However, the Bordeaux vineyards is not enough to demand. Traders therefore turn toward the South-West therefore provide 60% of exported wines from Bordeaux.
Between the 14th and 19th century trade in wine in the South West is dominated by traders Bordeaux. The vineyards of South-West focus and along the rivers and rivers that make it easy to transport wine to Bordeaux: the Dordogne, Lot, Tarn and Garonne.
At the end of the 19th century, the South West is reached by phylloxera, while the establishment of Appellations of Origin now delineates the Bordeaux region the only department of the Gironde. Traders Bordeaux can no longer market the wines of South-West under the name "Bordeaux". These two events significantly inhibit the activity of the wine regions of South-West.

Since the 1970's, wine cooperatives and individual producers South-West are engaged in the production of quality wines. Today, all these regions offer excellent wines offering a much better value for money that several generic Bordeaux.

Regions, grape varieties and characteristics of wines

Farther eas,t near Bordeaux, South-West wines are similar to the wines of Bordeaux. The more you move away from Bordeaux, the more the wines have different styles. This is because the climate becomes warmer and drier as we enter the land and that comes close to the Mediterranean, and because the vine is changing gradually.


Products just outside of the department of Gironde, Bergerac wines are similar to the Bordeaux wines and grape varieties is almost the same: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot for red wine, and Semillon, Sauvignon, Muscadelle and Chenin for white wines. Bergerac includes some appellations of origin: Monbazillac produces a sweet wine like Sauternes and Pécharmant produces red wines recalling the wines of Saint-Emilion. The red wines of Pécharmant are the most famous of Bergerac.

Cotes-de-Duras, Cotes-du-Marmandais and Cotes-de-Buzet

To the south of Bergerac, found appellations Cotes de Duras, Cotes-du-Marmandais and Cotes-de-Buzet. The climate is similar to that of Bordeaux, but slightly warmer and drier. The vine is essentially the same as at Bordeaux. But there are also other varietals, including Malbec.


The Cahors has an old reputation. Around 640, Saint Didier, bishop of Cahors, send to the bishop of Verdun ten barrels a wine of great value (Dion, 1959 190). The vine here is different from that of Bordeaux. Same as Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc are prohibited in the appellation. The grape of Cahors is the Malbec, locally known as Auxerrois, which comes to 70% in the composition of wine from Cahors. Cahors wines have long been described as wines "black" and gives effect Malbec wines dense and dark that were once used to color and back Bordeaux wines lighter. Previously, the fine wines of Cahors were aged bus. Today, there are structural differences between the wines. Some are more flexible and intended to be drunk young, while the best are rich in tannins and always capable of ageing.

Fronton and Gaillac

To the south of Cahors, there is one of the oldest vineyards of France, that Gaillac, where viticulture dating back to the 1st century AD. It is a designation that includes varied nearly 80 villages. There are a multitude of grapes grown, which explains the variety of wines produced. In white, we find the Bordeaux varietals Semillon and Sauvignon as well as local grape varieties. It produced Gaillac of dry white wines, sweet wines, sparkling wines and pearls. The wine Pearl is a traditional dry white wine in which we leave a little carbon dioxide. In red, the main grape is the Duras. It is followed by Fer Servadou, Syrah, the Négrette and Gamay. These varieties fall to 60% in the composition of wine AOC Gaillac, which is added Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. For Cotes-du-Frontonais, Négrette grape must enter 50-70% of the composition of wine, giving it more fruity, supplemented by Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Fer Servadou.

Madiran and Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh

At the heart of Gascony, we find the names and Madiran Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh. These designations binoculars with the Madiran in red and Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh white. These designations are at the foot of the first foothills of the Pyrenees. The grape of Madiran characteristic is the Tannat which gives one side and fruity wine plus 40-60% Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc for flexibility and make it more suitable for aging. For Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh, the varietals used are the Gros Manseng, Petit Manseng, Corbou and other local varieties.

Béarn, Jurançon and Irouléguy

Located at 300 m altitude in the Pyrenees, the appellation Béarn produces red similar to those of Madiran with the same varietals. The name Jurançon is known for its sweet white wines, wine from grapes Gros Manseng, Petit Manseng and Corbou. Irouléguy The name derives its name from a village in the Basque country. It is located on the Spanish border near the Atlantic. It produces mainly red wine from the same grapes that Madiran.


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