Masterclass France Southern & South-Western France
Production • BORDEAUX = 121,500 ha • RHONE VALLEY = 79,900 ha • BURGUNDY = 49,200 ha • LOIRE VALLEY = 48,600 ha • LANGUEDOC = 38,350 ha • ALSACE = 15,300 ha • PROVENCE = 29,000 ha
Wine Styles - South • Provence • Rosé, Red & White • Languedoc-Roussillon • Red, Rosé & White 4
Quality Classifications Provence – Mostly Appellation Contrôlée Languedoc-Roussillon – mostly Vin de Pays 5
Climate & Viticulture Mediterranean climate Provence affected by mistral Languedoc & Roussillon affected by tramontane Possible drought in Languedoc & Roussillon Many organic producers
Southern France Traditional Grape Varieties Carignan Grenache Cinsault Mourvèdre Syrah Clairette Grenache Blanc Ugni Blanc Maccabeu 7
Southern France International Grape Varieties Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot Chardonnay Sauvignon Blanc Viognier 8
Rivers • The wines are related to the rivers: • Dordogne • Garonne • Lot • and their tributaries. • The Garonne is about 575km long and flows in an arc from its origin in the Spanish Pyrenees • Joined by the Ariège and the Gers before being joined by the Tarn flowing from the east, near Toulouse and finally by the Lot. • This means that it drains most of the south-west region and it cuts through one of the largest alluvial plains in France.
Rivers • The Dordogne flows more or less east to west for about 500km • flowing through Limousin and Périgord. • The Lot also flows west to east, though the old region of Quercy, for about 481km. • The river fell into disuse as a transportation means in the 1920s as a result of railway completion.
Climate • Climate becomes more continental as you go eastwards • Hours of sunshine rise as you go south. • No difficulty getting 2200 hours of sunshine per year. • Effect of the varied landscape • Considerable difference between the uplands and the plains. • Significant variation in the soils profiles of the region.
Grapes • Two types • Those in use in Bordeaux • Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon • Local grapes often indigenous to a small region • Abouriou, Clairette, Colombard, Duras, Fer, Folle Blanche, Gros and Petit Manseng, Len de l'El, Malbec, Muscadelle, Négrette, Tannat, Ugni blanc.
Satellites of Bordeaux • The main ACs are • Buzet, • Bergerac, • Côtes de Duras • Monbazillac. • Reds and whites are made from the same grapes as Bordeaux, and in the same style.
Buzet • Buzet has about 1700 ha under vines on the left bank of the Garonne. • Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc are grown, • Merlot is the most important red grape. • Small quantity of white wine is made from the Bordeaux grapes.
Bergerac • Bergerac is a big producing area through which the Dordogne flows. • about 12,600 ha under vines • Produces red and both dry and sweet white wines as well as rosé wine • 13 different ACs. • Reds and dry whites are in the image of Bordeaux. • Red wines blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot • sometimes supplemented by Côt or FerServadou or Mérille. • White wines are mainly a blend of Sémillon with Sauvignon Blanc, Sauvignon Gris and Muscadelle. • some blends with Ugni Blanc, Ondenc and Chenin Blanc. • Bergerac AC • Generic AC for the dry white wines, rosé wines and red wines of the region. Bordeaux blends designed to be drunk within a year or so of the vintage. • Côtes de Bergerac AC is regarded as producing better wine.
Côtes de Duras • An extension of Bordeaux with the same basic climate though the weather is generally hotter and drier. • Whites are Sauvignon Blanc (67% of planting), • Sémillon, Muscadelle • with the addition of Mauzac, Rouchelein, Chenin Blanc and Ondenc. • Red wines come from Merlot (52% of planting), • Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Côt with a limit of 55 hl/ha.
Montravel • Wines are predominantly white. • Main grape is Sémillon and quality has improved in recent years. • Only about 360ha under vines and the sweet versions are hard to come by (<50ha) • AC Côtes de Montravel or Haut-Montravel.
Monbazillac • AC for serious sweet white wine • Only hand harvesting is permitted • Sweet wines must be made with grapes affected by noble rot. • If the rot does not materialise, the wine must be sold as dry Bergerac AC. • Look out for Chateau Tirecul La Graviere.
Pécharmant • About 360 ha under vines • Most of wine is red and a Bordeaux blend, with some Malbec but in which Merlot figures strongly. • The wines will age from four to ten years and are tannic in youth. • Good examples are full bodied, dark ruby in colour but with good fruit.
Saussignac • Developing a reputation for its sweet botrytis white wines based on Sémillon and Muscadelle. • A little drier in style than those of Montbazillac • Clos d’Yvigne (Patricia Atkinson) • Chateau Richard.
Cahors • The AC dates from 1971 and it is based on Malbec, known locally as Côt" • Malbec must make up a minimum of 70% • Merlot and Tannat as supplementary grapes. • White and rosé wine produced in the same area is sold as Vin de Pays du Lot. • Malbec, despite being a relatively thin skinned grape, produces wines of very deep colour. • Very deep purple in youth = “black wines”. • Needs more sun to ripen than Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot but ripens early. • Highly tannic and so is often used in Bordeaux blends to give some body • Suffers badly from frost damage, as mentioned above, and coulure.
Tannat and Fer • Tannat is suggestive of tannins and the association is justified. • Often blended with Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Fer to soften them. Ages well and it is an important element in the wines in the Basque areas near the Pyrénées. • Modern versions tend to use oak to soften the tannins with an emphasis on producing a fruit-forward wine. The problem is that this is not the traditional style expected from the grape. • Fer is favoured for its perfumed current aromas, soft tannins and concentrated fruit.
AC Béarn • A complex area • AC in its own right • Can also be used within the AC regions of Madiran and Irouléguy. • Production is relatively small at 269ha. • Reds are Bordeaux-like • Only a tiny amount of white
Madiran • AC is for red wine only. • Tannat must comprise between 40-60% of the wine and it is supplemented by the two Cabernets and Fer. • Main producers use 100% Tannat grapes • The wine needs time to develop and only top class versions are worth the trouble.
Jurançon • White wine in a dry and sweet version from Gros Manseng, Petit Manseng and Courbu. • Sweet wines from Petit Manseng • Often hand selected into October and should have noble rot.
Irouléguy AC • About 210 ha • New AC, having been created only in 1970 • About 70% is red with the remainder divided into 20% rosé and 10% white. • Red • BordelesaBeltza (Tannat), Axeria (Cabernet Franc and AxeriaHandia (Cabernet Sauvignon) • White come from XuriZerratia (Courbu), IzkiriotaTtipia (Petit Manseng) and Izkiriota (GrosManseng).