The Bacchus Report: Trip to the Southwest

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.


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Available at: Naoko, Revoluční 24, Prague1

Upcoming tastings

· 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 Controlée
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






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