Oh France, we do love you. And your wine, of course.
As a key leader in the Old World wine production, France has dozens of regions and hundreds of appellations. We all know about places like Bordeaux but do we know about the neighboring regions in Southwest France? Within the entire geographical location of Southwest France, there are sub-regions: Bergerac, Garonne & Tarn, Lot River Valley, and the Pyrenees. Appellations such as Bergerac, Cahors, and Madirian are producing some of the best and most interesting wines in France. Languedoc-Roussillon is actually one of the largest regions, however, much of their wine production isn’t actually exported so it flies a bit under the radar.
Bergerac is home to the classics like Cab Franc, Sauvignon Blanc, and Merlot. The appellation is similar to Bordeaux in the varietals and styles they produce but because it’s more inland, the climate is a bit more intense and has less rainfall which contributes to drier growing seasons.
Cahors, within the Lot River sub-region, is actually one of the largest producers of Malbec. The red wines produced here must be at least 70% Malbec and the remaining 30% is usually Merlot or Tannat. The Malbecs of Cahors are very dark and very tannic due to the high levels of limestone in the soil.
Tannat is a bold red that is part of the Madirian AOC within the Pyrenees sub-region, and is very similar to Malbec in flavor and in growing locations around the world. It’s pretty high in tannins so it’s regularly used as a blending wine, particularly with Cabernet Franc or Cabernet Sauvignon.
Gaillac is in Toulouse, another area within the Southwest France region of wine production. This particular region is known for rich, spicy red wines. Back in the day, Gaillac would even be used as a blending wine with Bordeaux. Because of its proximity to the Tarn River, the climate and soil are prime for the whole range of wines from dry to sweet, to red and rosé.
If you’re into Bordeaux blends and Australian Malbecs, the wines of Southwest France will appeal to your palate. Be sure to look specifically for the appellations listed above to know that you are truly getting a wine from this region!
What’s better than great wine and artisanal pizza?
The New York Times described Ridge Monte Bello as “America’s greatest Cabernet Sauvignon.”
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