Bottoms Up! Discover the Wines of Southwest France

The little-known wines from our favorite region of France (the Southwest, of course!) are starting to get attention. Will Southwest wines be the next big thing? The affordable prices, interesting and exciting flavors, and long history of producing wine should be reason enough to seek them out. It’s been our little secret – but we are happy to share.

Made with grapes that most have not heard of, like Négrette, Tannat, Mauzac, Fer Servadou, and Petit and Gros Manseng, the wines of Southwest France are waiting to be discovered. And they go well with the foods of the Southwest … charcuterie boards, duck and foie gras, cassoulet, and more. So you know we love them.

Krishna Dayanidhi Photo Wine
Wines of Southwest France at a D’Artagnan James Beard House party. Photo: Krishna Dayanidhi

Wine Folly, a very helpful companion for any wine drinker, breaks down the characteristics of many of these grapes, and discusses the merits of the wines. According to Wine Folly, the Southwest region is “France’s Hidden Corner” and the “5th largest wine region of France at 120,000 acres. Despite its large size, the area is the least populated part of the country with only 10 residents per square mile – rural, peaceful and laid back!” southwest-france-wine-map.jpg

Maxim is even getting in on it, with this review of the best wines of Southwest France, which we hope will inspire more oenophiles to try some of these fine wines.

For centuries, people have been making big, jovial, rustic reds around the Gascon village of Madiran, where the tannat grape is king. Tannat had a small blip of notoriety in the mid-2000s when scientists found that it contained the highest, most potent levels of polyphenols, those antioxidants that prevent an array of health problems. Madiran wines are muscular, dark, and juicy, perfect for when the weather turns cold and leaves begin to fall. Bottles of Madiran wash down the decadent meals of Gascony, where I was fed so much rich foie gras and pressed duck that I feared my hosts might be forcing me toward the same fate as the geese.

-Jason Wilson, Maxim

The Pour Man column in Valley Advocate recently reviewed Columbard wine – a “grape I never knew I loved” – and gives some good history of the grapes and wines of the region. Click through for a white wine recommendation that is perfect for a summer dinners under the stars.

1200px-Colombard_raisin

Colombard is a white wine grape variety that is the offspring of Chenin blanc and Gouais blanc. Traditionally grown in Gascony for distilling into Armagnac, the grape is also used for Vins de Pays Côtes de Gascogne and the white Floc de Gascogne, an aperitif drink that mixes young Armagnac with unfermented grape juice (find it on Wine Searcher). Floc is a wonderful and refreshing choice for summer drinking.

Columbelle Cote de Gascogne
Saint Mont Columbelle, a white wine mix of Ugni Blanc and Columbard, is a Southwest favorite. Photo: Andre Jackamets Photography

The London Economic just named this 2015 Saint Mont bottle the “Wine of the Week.”

So what are you waiting for? Get to a wine shop and find a bottle from Southwestern France! And when you do, tell us how you like it. Share photos with us on social media, by tagging @dartagnanfoods on FacebookInstagram or Twitter.

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