Around the Regions: South West France

By Ben Stephany, Manager, Majestic Wine Wilmslow

Internationally, this pocket of France is best-known for gastronomic exports like Roquefort cheese, foie gras and cassoulet. Fortunately, in France great wines to accompany such delights are never far away…

Wines of the Sud-Ouest have the advantage of being extremely regionally distinctive, with their indigenous grape varieties seldom used anywhere else in the world. Loin de l’Oeil and Manseng for the whites, Braucol, Negrette and Tannat for the reds, hardly roll off the tongue (even for Majestic staff!). Combine this with a wide range of soils and sites, and the result is an extraordinary diversity of wine styles and flavours.

Most wines are a blend of these grapes with more familiar components such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah, with producers moving towards higher levels of indigenous grapes in the final blend to help preserve regional identity. However, I’d suggest leaving the finer details of the blend to your trusted local Majestic team and instead focus on enjoying these examples which are perfect for any occasion.

A votre santé!

Les Hauts de Bergelle Blanc 2009, PDO Saint Mont

£7.99 or £5.99 when you buy 2 bottles

Made from local heroes Petit Courbu, Arrufiac and Gros Manseng, with partial oak ageing and time on the lees adding complexity and a slight nuttiness. Lively citrus acidity freshens up the palate, making this a zingy partner for oysters served with nothing more than a squeeze of lemon.

Les Hauts de Bergelle Rouge 2008/09, PDO Saint Mont
£7.99 or £5.99 when you buy 2 bottles

From the foothills of the Pyrenees, where Tannat plays an important role, this tough, deep black grape requires wood ageing to soften, and forms at least 60% of a final blend including Cabernet Sauvignon amongst others. The final result is deep plum and bramble in abundance, with spice and a slight herbal character, with a hint of liquorice. Great with cassoulet.

Château Jouaninel 2009, PDO Fronton New!
£7.99 or £5.99 when you buy 2 bottles

Noted for its supple, perfumed nature, Negrette is the main grape on show here. It’s relatively powerful in the glass, with juicy blackcurrant flavours complemented by herbal spice and liquorice notes. Firm but fine-grained tannins add complexity.

Saint-Michel Rouge 2009, PDO Gaillac Rouge New!
£7.99 or £5.99 when you buy 2 bottles

The grapes for this wine grow in deep gravel soil on the banks of the river Tarn. Here, another unfamiliar variety, Braucol, is blended with Syrah and Merlot for a deeply-coloured, concentrated wine dominated by vibrant red berries with rustic spice hints.

Saint-Michel Blanc Perlé 2010, PDO Gaillac Blanc New!

£7.99 or £5.99 when you buy 2 bottles

Perlé wines have a slight spritz, similar to Muscadet or Vinho Verde, simply obtained by arresting fermentation early, then bottling quickly to capture the small amounts of carbon dioxide produced. Made from the local Loin de l’Oeil with some Muscadelle and Mauzac, this mineral, flinty wine is packed with citrus character and great as an apéritif.

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