The Bacchus Report: Trip to the Southwest
Written by: Libor Ševčík
True, you won't encounter sprightly
Gascony cadets led by D'Artagnan here, but visitors to this southwestern
corner of France will find an astounding variety of wines.
foto: allphoto images
Atrip for acquainting yourself with wines from the wine-producing
region in southwestern France is rather complicated and involved.
This is a region where the individual viniferous districts are
quite far apart, and even though they are located in a single area,
the wines they produce are of very different characters, due to
the varying soils and climatic conditions. Most of the land is
affected by the ever-restless Atlantic Ocean, but in Limoux, for
example, you can feel the influence of the Mediterranean. And as
if that weren't enough, in the Armagnac district the world-famous
brandy of the same name is made from most of the wines. But even
here we can find a very drinkable, inexpensive white wine, Vin
de Pays de Co^tes de Gascogne. There is no single varietal that
is typical of the viniferous region of southwestern France, because
the winemakers there use an unbelievable 48 varietals, both white
and blue. There are even many small appellations that are connected
only with local varietals. Thanks to their original aromas and
flavors, they are sought out mainly by lovers of wines who have
had enough of the ubiquitous Cabernets, Sauvignons, and Chardonnays.
Here you can taste Perlé, a finely sparkling white, made with grapes
grown in the limestone near the town of Cordes, as well as sweetish
white wines from Gaillac, which is comparable to the celebrated "sweets" from
Sauternes. There is also a Gaillac version of a dry sherry. Rosés
and reds vary, from pellucid wines with the bright gleam of garnet
and a lovely, fruity palate, to the so-called black wines from
Cahors. We can also fine original wines in Basque territory in
the province of Béarn. Although most of the red wines from southwestern
France are best consumed in under five years, the dark red Basque
Madiran reaches perfection when aged eight years, and Malbec, from
Clos de Gamont, ten years or longer. The advent of modern technologies,
which allows better use of the potential of grapes, has helped
make wines from this area more than simple country bumpkins as
compared with the great wines from neighboring Bordeaux.
In this area there are many regions with AOC (Appellation d'Origine
Contro^lée) designations, such as Béarn, Bergerac, Buzet, Cahors,
Co^tes de Duras, Co^tes du Marmandais, Gaillac, Irouléguy, Jurancon,
Limoux, Madiran et Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh, and Pecharmant. There
are also many producers who make wines from vineyards designated
VDQS (Vin Délimité de Qualité Supérieure), such as Co^tes du Brulhois,
Co^tes de St-Mont, Coteaux du Quercy, Vins de Lavilledieu, Vins
d'Estaingi, Tursan, Co^tes de Millau, and so on. Each of these
names will offer you an unusual, unique experience.
The author is the editor of Hospodářské
noviny's IN magazine.
The Pegasus bottle opener and Safe Profi vacuum stopper (both
by Ad Hoc) are an unbeatable combination for any wine-lover.
Available at: Naoko, Revoluční 24,
· Štukové sály Louckého kláštera, Znojmo
3 April, Znojmo tasting, starting at 9:00 am. Info: 515 266 611
· Klub Cellarius, Budečská 29, Praha 2
13 April. Chilean wines from Viňa Morandé, starting at 7:00 pm.
Tel.: 222 515 243
· Second Annual Litoměřice Wine Exhibition
16 and 17 April. Info: 475 534 077
· Dům vína U Závoje, Havelská 25, Praha 1
20 April. Small tasting school: Flavors and Aromas of Wines from
Bordeaux. Tel.: 226 006 107
Most importers offer wines from southwestern France, so it's easy
to discover their diversity without leaving Prague.
Buzet Tradition 2000, Appellation Buzet
Producer: Les Vignerons de Buzet, Buzet-sur-Baise
Characteristics: A bright, garnet-red wine with the pleasant
Cabernet aroma of well-ripened grapes. The palate is redolent
of well-ripened black cherries, reminiscent of cherry brandy.
The needed tannins aren't aggressive, and they underline
with balance the flavor of the wines typical of this region.
Importer: Terra-vina Zlín, tel.: 603 461 346
Price: 336 Kč
Producer: Guy de Mercurio - Chateau St-Cyrgues, Vigneron, St-Gilles
Characteristics: A pleasant, light red wine with the full aroma
of red fruits. A well-balanced blend of blue varietals - Grenache
(50%), Syrah (30%), and Carignan (20%).
Importer: Bacchus, Almaviva Vinothe`que Hergetova Cihelna,
Cihelná 2b, Praha 1.
Price: 249 Kč
Bagueri Sivi Pinot (Rulandské šedé) 2000
Wine district: Goriška Brda
A varietal from the Bagueri line, this is one of the finest
products of the Goriška Brda cellars. In Slovenia the 2000
vintage was extraordinary, and this gray Burgundy is a
great example. Complex and harmonious, richly fruity in
aroma and flavor.
Price: 460 Kč
||Baron'arques 1999, Vin de
Pays de la Haute Vallée de l'Aude
Producer: Baron Philipe de Rothschild, Vignerons du Sieur d'Argues
Characteristics: Made from selected grapes from four villages
of the Limoux region that are first aged for one year in new
casks made of French oak and then blended to achieve maximal
harmony, fullness, and originality. Because of its signature
aroma and flavor, this first-rate wine is offered in the wine
shops of prestigious hotels on four continents.
Importer: Bacchus, Almaviva Vinotheque Hergetova Cihelna, Cihelná
2b, Praha 1.
Price: 1590 Kč