For those looking for great value wines, or a gastronomic holiday, try Gascony. This corner of France is known for its amazing pork (Toulouse sausages), poultry, foie gras, prunes and Armagnac. From Bordeaux down to the Spanish border, the appellations contained within Gascony and the southwest include some familiar names. Bergerac, Cahors, Jurançon and Montravel to name a few. But even outside of appellation laws winemakers are churning out super everyday wines that don’t cost a bomb.
Winemakers here are proud of their traditions. There has been minimal outside influence from flying winemakers and foreign technology, and no one is too keen to jump onto the varietal bandwagon that the world market has created. If Sauvignon Blanc is going to do well on a certain plot of land, they’ll grow it. If Petit Manseng is going to produce something more curious and interesting, they’ll grow that instead. It’s a great attitude to have.
Bergerac is the most Bordeaux-like appellation. It lies to the east of the famous region, also on the river Dordogne. Many growers here use traditional Bordeaux varieties. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc for reds and rosés, and Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon for whites. Some of the dry Sémillon’s from Montravel are exceptional, and for those with a sweet tooth, Jurançon makes sought after sweet white wines made from Gros Manseng, Petit Manseng and Courbu. Cahors is a red wine region for fans of Malbec, or Côt as it is known among the locals. At least 70% of the blend must be Malbec, with the remainder being made up by Merlot and/or Tannat.
Gascony and the southwest is a hive for garage winemaking. Whereas most of the appellations of the Languedoc region to the east make use of the same basic collections of red and white grapes, an even more diverse picture prevails in the southwest. For a good entry point into Gascony white, try our house wine, Cuvee Jean Paul Blanc, which is a blend of Ugni Blanc and Colombard. For something even more curious, the Ampelomeryx is sensational, and unashamedly noncommercial. More from the southwest here.