Bordered by the Pyrenees Mountains and the Atlantic Ocean, Southwest France looks like something from the storybooks. Quaint medieval bastide villages, oak forests, sandy beaches, and rolling green hills paint the landscapes. While the pastoral area is known for its agriculture, culinary offerings, and historic churches, it’s also home to a vibrant wine scene. There are more than 120,000 acres of vineyards, one of the largest winemaking areas in the country, and 42 designated regions.
Once overshadowed by its neighbor, Bordeaux, Southwest France is seeing a surge in popularity, thanks to its standout wines made from the 300 grape varieties grown in the region. Unlike Bordeaux and Burgundy, which specialize in a select few grapes, Southwest France offers drinkers the exciting opportunity to explore a vast range of styles. Comté Tolosan, a regional PGI that covers the entire region of Southwest France, is the largest covering denomination of the region encompassing a great diversity of terroirs and grape varieties. Nearly half of the grape varieties in the region are indigenous grapes, such as Tannat, Negrette, Petit Manseng, and Gros Manseng. Southwest France is also the birthplace of famous grape varieties such as Malbec and Cabernet Franc. In the region, Malbec lovers will find a pocket to fall in love with: Cahors produces 100-percent Malbec wines that have been beloved long before Argentina versions flooded wine lists.
The wide variety means there are plenty of food pairings with wines from the region. The robust reds complement game and red meats, like duck, lamb, and beef, while the mineral-driven whites accent the area’s shellfish and fresh seafood. Since Roquefort cheese is produced nearby, that’s a great pairing with the Petit Manseng grape variety with sweet Côtes de Gascogne or Pacherenc-du-vic-bilh. Rosé lovers will also enjoy wines made from the indigenous grapes Fronton and Negrette. Add to all that their top selling point: Wines from Southwest France offer killer value per dollar. Time to get exploring.
This article is sponsored by Wines of Southwest France.