SouthWest France

South West France is located South of Bordeaux and North of Spain. 

 

This region is further inland then its northern neighbour. 

 

5th Largest growing region in all of France

 

This region covers several wine producing areas. 

 

 

 

History

1st Century 

Romans introduced the vine

Viticulture was brought to SouthWest before Bordeaux

 

Middle Ages 

Gascony  (large region covering southwestern portion)

under English rule for 300 years 

 

Wines from SW France would be transported through the port city Bordeaux.  

Travelling along the Dordogne and Garone for markets along the Atlantic coast.

 

13 and 14th Century 

Bordeaux took notice of all the wines being sent up from SouthWest France. 

 

The wine from SouthWest France was not allowed to be sold until all the Bordeaux wine had been purchased and sent to market.

 

SouthWest France lost their national and international market and haulted their wine industry. Only producing wine to be sold locally.

 

21st Century 

SouthWest France is still today in the shadow of its "prestige" cousin Bordeaux. 

The region are re-entered the market providing wine in similiar taste, quality and wine-making methods with out the high price tag.

 

 

Location

This region is made up of serval sub-regions located within Gascogne. 

 

North - Bordeaux 

 

West - Atlantic Ocean 

 

East - Massif Central 

 

South - Pyrenees/Spanish border 

Climate

3  climate areas 

 

Bergerac and Dordogne River 

Oceanic influences, slightly warmer tempertures than Bordeaux 

 

Garonne, Tarn and Lot Rivers 

Mediterranean climate. higher tempertures and drier

 

Pyrenees foothills

Maritime climate, alpine influences 

Region lies in the rain-shadow of Pyrenees 

Cool nights due to the proximity of the Pyrennes 

 

AOC - Grape Varieties  

Dordogne/Bergerac 

region closest to Bordeaux

Red grapes 

 

  • Cabernet Sauvignon

  • Cabernet Franc (Bouchy)

  • Merlot

  • Malbec (Cot)

  • Merille (Perigod)

White grapes 

 

  • Sauvignon Blanc 

  • Semillon

  • Muscadelle 

  • Ugni Blanc 

  • Ondenc

  • Chenin Blanc

Garonne, Tarn & Lot 

 

Red grapes 

 

  • Cabernet Sauvignon

  • Cabernet Franc (Bouchy)

  • Merlot

  • Malbec (Cot)

  • Merille (Perigod)

  • Tannat

  • Negrette

  • Duras

  • Fer Servadou

  • Syrah

  • Gamay

  • Arbouriou

  • Cinsault

  • Prunelard

  • Jurancon Noir

  • Mouyssagues

  • Pinot Noir

White grapes 

 

  • Sauvignon Blanc 

  • Semillon

  • Muscadelle 

  • Ugni Blanc 

  • Ondenc

  • Chenin Blanc

  • Len d l'el

  • Mauzac

  • Mauzac Rose

  • Saint Come (Rousselou)

Pyrenees

Red grapes 

 

  • Manseng Noir 

  • Courbu Noir 

  • Tannat

  • Fer Servadou 

  • Cabernet Franc

  • Cabernet Sauvignon

  • Merlot

White grapes 

 

  • Camaralet

  • Lauzet

  • Arrufiac

  • Courbu

  • Baroque

  • Gros Manseng

  • Petit Manseng

  • Raffiat

  • Clairette Blanche

  • Sauvignon Blanc

 

Appellations

There are 4 different sub regions, confusing because there are 3 climatic areas growing different grape varieties

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2 different styles of Dessert wine will be mentioned in the wines styles below

Moelleux- Slighter sweet

Liquoreux - Rich and luscious dessert wine

 

Dordogne and  Bergerac 

sub-region appellations

 

This region is very close to Bordeaux producing the same grapes and same style of wine. Most communes we locate near the Dordogne rivers

Maritime climate with slightly warmer temperatures than Bordeaux due to it being a little further inland

 

Bergerac AOC 

 

Style - Red and Rose

Grapes, min 2 of the following 

Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Cot (Malbec) Fer Servadou, Merille (Perigod) 

Alcohol - min 10%

 

Bergerac Sec AOC 

Style - Dry White 

Grapes - min 2 of the following 

Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc, Muscadelle, Ondenc, Chenin Blanc 

Max 25% Ugni Blanc (if used must be equal parts as Sauvignon Blanc) Alcohol - min 10%

 

Cotes de Bergerac AOC 

Style - Red and Moelleux style wines

 

Moelleux 

Grapes - min 2 of the following 

Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc, Muscadelle, Ondenc, Chenin Blanc 

Max 25% Ugni Blanc (if used must be equal parts are Sauvignon Blanc) Alcohol - min 11% 

 

Red 

Grapes - min 2 of the following 

Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Cot (Malbec) Fer Servadou, Merille (Perigod) 

Alcohol - min 11%

Yields are lower than Bergerac AOC 

 

Cotes de Montravel and Haut-Montravel AOC

 

Style - Moelleux and Liquoreux

Can contain the following grapes

Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc, Muscadelle

Residual sugar level - 0.8-5.4% 

Alcohol - min 11%

 

Montravel AOC

 

Style - Dry White and Red 

 

White

MUST be a blend of the following

min 25% Semillon 

min 25% Sauvignon Blanc

Blending partner Musadelle

Alcohol - min 10%

 

Red

MUST be a blend if the following min

50% Merlot

Blending partners - Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Cot (Malbec)

Alcohol min 11%

 

Pecharment AOC 

 

Style - highly tannic dry Red

MUST be a blend following (at least 3 grapes) Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Cot(Malbec) Merlot

Alcohol - 11% min 

 

Following 3 AOCs are for Liquoreux style wines

 

Saussignac AOC 

 

Style- Liquoreux

MUST be a blend of ALL the following

Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc and Muscadelle

Residual sugar levels - min 4.5%

Alcohol - min 12% 

Grapes can be either late harvest or botrytised (Noble Rot) 

 

Rosette AOC 

 

Style - Liquoreux and Moelleux

Can contain of any the following

Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc and Muscadelle

Residual sugar levels - min 0.8 -5.4%

Alcohol - min 11%

 

Monbazillac AOC 

 

Style - Liquoreux 

Can contain of any the following

Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc and Muscadelle

Residual sugar levels - min 4.5%

Alcohol - min 12.5%

Grapes can either be late harvest or botrytised wine

MUST be hand harvested

 

Garonne and Tarn

sub region appellations

2 rivers run through this sub-region 

The Garonne and The Tarn

 

Brulhois AOC 

 

Style - Red 70% and Rose 30% 

 

Can contain the any of the following

Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Fer Servadou, Cot (Malbec), Merlot, Tannat

Located - Most vineyards flank e left bank of the Garonne River

 

 

Buzet AOC 

 

Style - Red, White, Rose using Bordeaux varieties only) 

 

Red and Rose

can be a blend of the following

Merlot, Caberner Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Cot (Malbec)

Alcohol - min 10%

 

White  

can be a blend of the following

Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc, Muscadelle

Alcohol - min 9.5%

 

 

Cotes de Duras AOC  

 

Style - Red, White, Rose, Moelleux style

 

Dry White 

can be a blend of the following

Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Muscadelle, Mauzac, Chenin Blanc known locally as Rouchelein, Ondenc

Max 25% Ugni Blanc (if used must be equal parts as Sauvignon Blanc)

Alcohol - 10% min 

 

Moelleux style wine

can be a blend of the following

Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Muscadelle, Mauzac, Chenin Blanc known locally as Rouchelein, Ondenc

Max 25% Ugni Blanc

(if used must be equal parts as Sauvignon Blanc)

Alcohol - 10.5% min 

Residual sugar levels - min 0.4%

 

Red and Rose 

can be made from the following

Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Cot (Malbec)

Alcohol - min 10%

 

 

Cotes du Marmandais AOC 

 

Style - Red, White, Rose

 

White

Sauvignon Blanc dominant 

max 30% Muscadelle, Semillon, Ugni Blanc

Alcohol - min 10% 

 

Red and Rose

Max 75% Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot

Max 50% Abouriou, Cot (Malbec) Fer Servadou, Gamay, Syrah

Alcohol - min 10%

 

 

Cotes de Millau AOC 

 

StyleRed, Rose, White

 

Located - Banks of the Tarn river Vineyards are terraced

Western side soil is Sandstone 

Eastern side soil is clay-limestone scree

Weather here is influenced by the air currents

Spring/Autumn - Southwesterly winds create a maritime/oceanic influence 

Summer - SouthEast winds create a Mediterranean climate 

Winter - Cold North winds create a continental climate 

 

Red 

Can contain he following

Syrah, Fer Servadou, Gamay, Caberent Sauvignon 

 

Rose

Syrah and Gamay only 

 

White

Mauzac and Chenin Blanc 

 

 

Fronton AOC

 

formally known as "Cotes du Frontannais" up until 2005

The region has a unique microclimate in which continental and Mediterranean conditions meet. The area experiences wet springs, dry summers, and strong local winds.

 

Style - Red and Rose

 

Location - Vine are planted around the town Fronton which is North of city Toulouse. 

 

Negrette - Is a red grape planted throughout the region and dominates most blends. It prouduces wines with aromas of violet perfume and animal notes. This grape is planted almost exclusivley to this AOC

 

Soil - iron-rich clay sub soil, onto are rougets

Rougets -are a clay sand congolmerates

 

Red and Rose

min 3 grape varieties 

min 50% Negrette 

blending partners 

max 10% Gamay, Merille and Cinsault combined 

max 25% Cot (Malbec) Fer Servadou and Syrah combined 

max 25% Cabernet Sauvignon and Caberent Franc either together or seperately 

Alcohol - min 10.5%

 

in 2019 the % of Gamay, Merille and Cinsault will drop to 5%

 

 

Galliac AOC 

 

Wine style - Red, Rose, White, Sparkling and Sweet wine 

Location - Northeast of Toulouse

Flanks both sides of the Tarn river

Appellations produces unique wines from non-mainstream varieties

 

  • Len de L'el (LIon de L'Oeil 

  • Duras 

  • Prunelard

  • Fer Servadou

 

Although this AOC produces many style 64% is Red and 9% Rose 

 

Dry White 

min 1 of the following 

min 50%  Mauzac, Mauzac Rose, Muscadelle, Len de L'el 

blending partners Ondenc, Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon

Semillon will not be allowed after 2028 

Alcohol - min 10%

 

Sweet Whites 

Labelled - Gaillac Doux 

min 1 of the following 

min 50%  Mauzac, Mauzac Rose, Muscadelle, Len de L'el 

blending partners Ondenc, Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon

Semillon will not be allowed after 2028 

 

Sparkling Whites 

Method of production

  • Traditional, label will read "Gaillac"

  • Methode Ancestrale. label will read "methode gaillacoise"

 

Tradtional method "Gaillac"

min 1 of the following 

min 50%  Mauzac, Mauzac Rose, Muscadelle, Len de L'el 

blending partners Ondenc, Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon

Semillon will not be allowed after 2028 

Alcohol - min 9%

 

Methode Ancestrale "Methode Gaillacoise"

100% Mauzac and/or Mauzac Rose 

Alcohol - min 8%

commonly Residual sugar levels are more then 1.7%


Methode Gaillacoise Doux 

Alcohol - min 8%

min 5% Residual Sugar 

 

Red and Rose 

min 60% Syrah, Duras, Fer Servadou (combined or seperately)

min 10% Duras  

min 10% Fer Servadou

min 10% Prunelard Noir - indigenous grape

blending partners - Gamay, Caberent Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc 

Alcohol - min 10.5%

 

Gaillac Primeur 

 

Regulations 

  • 100% Gamay 

  • Hand harvested 

  • Carbonic Maceration 

  • Malo - lactic fermentation 

 

 

Gaillac Premieres Cotes AOC

 

Style - 100% White

 

New appellation 

Location - Right bank of the Tarn river, vineyards have an average altitude of 140meters, some vines reach 300meters

 

Soil - Limestone and Clay. Underneath the soil is an underground water supply, vine-saver in drought years 

 

Climate - Mediterranean and Oceanic influences and is impacted by local winds.  Dry North winds  South-easterly winds "d'Autun" can blow up to 80km/h 

 

min 50% Lion de Loeil, Mauzac, Mauzac Rose and Muscadelle

(50% be blend or singular variety) 

Blending partners Sauvignon Blanc, Ondenc 

 

Production - 3 co-ops responsible for 55% of production 

 

 

Saint Sardos AOC 

 

Style - Red and Rose

 

Can contain the following grapes Tannat, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot

 

Soil - Limestone, marls, sands, galets and gravels

 

Climate - Mediterranean and Atlantic influences

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lot 

sub region appellations

The river Lot runs through this region

 

 

Cahors AOC

 

Style - Red

 

Most famous AOC in Southwest France 

This AOC is known for inky red wine with flavours/aromas of tobacco, plum, prune  Enjoyed for centuries this wine was the favourite wine of King Henrey II of England, Pope John XXII and Emperor Peter I

 

min 70% Malbec

Blending partners Merlot and Tannat

Alcohol - min 10.5%

Malbec is a native grape variety 

Synonyms - Cot and Auxerrois 

 

 

Côte du Quercy AOC

 

Style - Red and Rose

Location - South of Cahors, to the North East is Figeac and West Rodez

Climate - Continental, Mediterranean and Atlantic influences

Soil - Limestone

wine can contain the following grapes

40-60% Cabernet Franc

Blending partners Malbec, Merlot, Tannat, Gamay (uncommon to be used) 

 

 

Entraygues-Le Fel AOC 

 

Style - Red, White, Rose

 

Location - North of Marcillac, vines are planted in a valley on steeply sloped terraces, altitude is 200-400meters 

Aspect - South, maximum sunlight is received all year 

To the East is Massif Central, mountains protect the vines from wind and cold

 

Red wines are dominated by Cabernet Franc and Fer Servadou 

Can contain any of the following grapes

Cabernet Sauvignon, Gamay, Jurancon Noir, Merlot Noir, Mouyssagues, Negrette, Pinot Noir (same grapes for Rose)

 

White  

100% Chenin Blanc

 

 

Estaing AOC

 

Style - Red, Rose and White

Location - East of the AOC above, Entraygues-Le-Fel 

Climate - Mediterranean influences 

Soil - Schist, Granite, Limestone 

 

Red and Rose

Can contain the following grapes

Gamay, Cabernet Franc, Fer Servadou 

 

White 

Can contain the following grapes

Chenin Blanc, Muzac, Saint-Come (Rousselou) 

Rousselou is a high alcohol and high acid variety, susceptible to noble rot and can be made into botrytised sweet wine although not under this AOC 

 

 

Marcillac AOC 

 

Style - Red and Rose 

,

can contain 

90% min Fer Servadou

10% max Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot

Alcohol - min 10% 

 

 

Pyrenees

sub region appellations

The Red grape Tannat dominates here crafting rustic wine

 

Bearn AOC 

 

Style - White, Red, Rose 

 

White 

Can contain the following grapes

Petit Manseng, Gros Manseng, Courbu, Lauzet, Camarlet, Sauvignon Blanc 

Alcohol - min 10.5%

 

Red and Rose

max 60% Tannat

Blending partners - Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Fer Servadou, Manseng Noir, Corbu Noir

Alcohol - min 10.5%

 

 

Jurancon AOC 

 

Style - White only, different style - Dry, Molellux, Liquoreux, Ventage Tardive 

 

Jurancon Sec - Dry white wine

Can contain the following grapes

Petit Manseng, Gros Manseng, Courbu max 15% Camaralet and Lauzet

Grapes are harvested with 18.7% sugar 

Max Residual Sugar level - 0.4%  

 

 

Jurancon - Moelleux and Liquoreux 

Can contain the following grapes

Petit Manseng, Gros Manseng, Courbu

max 15% Camaralet and Lauzet

Grapes are HAND harvested late into the season with 21.2% sugar level

Law - pass 2 times in the vineyard collecting grapes

Min residual sugar level - 3.5%

 

 

Jurancon Vendange Tardive"Late Harvest"

 100% Petit Manseng and/or Gros Manseng 

Law - harvest begins 5 weeks after the first day of AOC Jurancon harvest

Grapes HAND harvested with 27.2% sugar

Law - pass 2 times in the vineyard collecting grapes

Min residual sugar level 3.5% 

Aged - 18 months 

Tasting panel apprval is needed d after 18months to confirm AOC status worthy 

 

 

Irouleguy AOC 

 

Style - Red, White, Rose

 

Most Southern AOC in Southwest France 

Only AOC in the Basque Country 

 

White 

Can contain the following

Petit Manseng, Gros Manseng and/or Courbu

Alcohol - min 10.5 %

 

Red and Rose

min 50% Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc (together)

Blending partners Tannat

Law - Destemming is mandatory 

Alcohol - min 10.5%

 

 

 

 

The 2 following AOCs cover the same geographical area 

 

Pacherenc du Vic Bilh AOC is for WHITE wine only and

Madiran AOC is for RED wine only

Both Vic Bilh and Madiran are villages not just vineyards

 

 

 

Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh Sec AOC 

 

Style - Dry White only 

 

min 60% Courbu and/or Petit Manseng - varieties can not be more than 80% individually 

Blending partners Arrufiac, Gros Manseng

Max 10% Sauvignon Blanc

Alcohol min 11%

Max Residual sugar level 0.3%

 

 

Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh AOC 

 

Style - White only Moelleux or Liqoureux style 

 

Same blending formula as Sec

min 60% Courbu and/or Petit Manseng - varieties can not be more than 80% individually 

Blending partners Arrufiac, Gros Manseng

Max 10% Sauvignon Blanc

Alcohol min 12%

Min Residual sugar level 3.5%

 

 

Madiran AOC 

 

Style - Red only

 

min 60% Tannat 

Blending partners Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Fer Servadou 

Local name in Madiran for Fer Servadou is "Pinenc" and

Cabernet Franc "Bouchy"

 

Law - Destemming is mandatory 

Many producers bottle their wines are 100% Tannat 

 

Tannat is a wine that is very well-structured and requires time is bottle to settle and open up. 

 

If the wine-maker wants a wine there consumers are drink now and doesn't want to barrel age for years, below is the technique used.

 

Micro oxygenation

  • tiny bubbles of oxygen are slowly bubbled through the vat of wine.

  • This process causes tannin molecules to bond with other tannin molecules and lose their aggressive edge on the palate.

  • Tannin settles and aren't as astringent.

  • Effectively speeds up the aging process

 

 

 

 

Saint-Mont AOC 

 

Style - Red, Rose, White

 

Red production dominates with 50%  Rose 30% White 20%

Small AOC

Located -  on the Madiran Northwest border in the foothills of the Pyrenees

Old vines - oldest are over 150 years though the average is 30-50 years old

Formally known as Cotes de Saint-Mont up until 2007

 

Red and Rose 

Can contain the following 

Tannat, Fer Servadou, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot

 

White 

Can contain the following

Arrufiac, Gros Manseng, Petit Manseng, Corbu, Clairette Blanche

 

 

Tursan AOC 

 

Style - Red, Rose, White

 

Soil - Clay-limestone, Marls, Galets, Silts, small gravel and "Sables Fauves" translating into wild sands, wild sands found here are made up of marine deposits from 23-50 million years ago

 

Red production dominates 47% - --  37% Rose 16% White

 

White

Can contain the following grapes

Sauvignon Blanc, Gros Manseng, Baroque

 

Red 

Can contain the following grapes

Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Fer Servadou, Tannat 

IGP

Indication Geographique Protégée

IGP Cotes de Gascogne - most common IGP 

IGP Comte - common 

IGP Ariege - foothills of the Pyrennes along Spanish/Andorra border

IGP Cotes du Lot - growing area of Cahors

IGP Cotes du Tarn - growing area of Gaillac

 

 

IGP Cotes de Gascogne 

 

80% of production is White vinified as dry or Moelleux 

10% Rose 10% Red

75% of all wine is exported

 

Cotes de Gascogne shares the same zone of production as Armagnac

Armagnac is a region producing only Armagnac (Brandy) 

The region is 15,000 acres and 4,600 acres is devoted for Armagnac production 

The remaining 10,400 acres is for IGP Cotes de Gascogne 

Producers either craft still wine or brandy and not both

 

There 3  growing areas within the Armagnac region  

 

  • Bas Armagnac

  • Tenareze 

  • Haut-Armagnac 

 

Bas Armagnac 

Flat plains 

Soil - sand, iron rich sands, rock hard sand/clay conglomerate known as "Boulbenes" 

The sands are called "Sables Fauves" translate int wild sands.

The wild sands are made up of marine deposits from over 23-50 million years ago

 

Tenareze 

Rolling hills

Soil - Clay-limestone 

Located in the centre of the region.

 

Haut-Armagnac 

Most of IGP Cotes de Gascogne is produced here

Climate is slightly warmer here 

Soil - Limestone-based

The grapes varieties producing IGP Cotes des Gascogne 

 

White

Colombard

Ugni Blanc

Gros Manseng

Petit Manseng

Chardonnay

Sauvignon Blanc

 

Red wine

Tannat

Merlot

Cabernet Franc

Cabernet Sauvignon

 

IGP Comte Tolosan 

Covers a total of 12 departments 

Covers 8 departments in the Midi-Pyrenees

Covers 4 departments through out southwest France. Pyrenees Atlantiques, Landes, Lot et Garonne and Cantal. 

 

White wine

Colombard

Ugni Blanc

Chardonnay

Sauvignon Blanc

Mauzac 

 

Red and Rose wine

Merlot

Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet Franc

Gamay

Syrah

Tannat

Duras

Fer Seradou

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