This is the ninth part in a series about the French wine regions, where we go through some great wine regions with a few tips on where to go and what to do in each region. Next up is Corsica (on Thursday), then we move on to wine regions in Spain, and then we’ll have a look at South America. We will also show you some other of the greatest wine destinations in the world, so stay tuned by subscribing to the RSS feed or Like us on Facebook.
The South-West wine region (French: Sud-Ouest) is often overshadowed by the reputation of neighboring Bordeaux, which geographically could be seen as part of this ‘poor region’. The area between Bordeaux and Languedoc-Rossillion, historically having great amounts of export to England and Holland (later ruined by taxation) and much monastery wine growing, is now often seen as the origin of cheap wines in vast amounts by wine lovers – although wines from the region have been praised since Virgil and Horatius days.
The wines are often based on Merlot, Sémillon, Sauvignon Blanc and both Cabernet varietals in combination with a number of less common local grapes. There’s a similar varietal blend compared to Bordeaux, which also shares the same basic climate near the Atlantic Ocean. If you enjoy Armagnac, you will be happy to know that the area of origin is situated in the South-West region – or perhaps a visit to Cognac, just north of Bordeaux and Bergerac, would be of more interest.
Although the region has a long history of wine growing since the Romans and Visigoth enjoyed the drink, parts of it were all but destroyed by the Saracens, the subsequent Viking raiders, and then the Muslims ordering the uprooting of all vines – which in the end made communities cancel all trade. The Bergerac area has still produced wine continuously since the 13th century, and had similar tax exemptions to Bordeaux for export to England – something the rest of the South-West wine region did not enjoy, and therefore suffered financially from. For an excellent bio-dynamic visit Domaine du Pech in the Bergerac area – although it might be difficult to find, the surrounding countryside and some great Cabernet Sauvignon will help you forget any extra travel time.