The Charming wines of the French Southwest
By Marco Giovanetti
As the wine industry converges into the “international” style invented by north american wine critics and dominated on the globe by their disposable income, it’s a relief to come across a wine region that is original to their roots and the native grapes it’s been growing since before the dawn of Christ. This is the case of Southwest France.
It’s a gorgeous area 300 miles across, bordered by the Atlantic Ocean on the west and the Pyrenees and Spain on the south, with Toulouse at its center. It’s well known to wine lovers in Quebec, and produces around 450 million bottles of wine a year, in part from ancient red grapes like tannat, fer servadou, prunelart, negrette and. malbec that is the opposite from its counterpart in Argentina.
The grapes cover a wide range of flavors — Tannat is Tannic; the powerful, fruity fer servadou; the soft, generous prunelart; the smooth and licorice-flavored negrette; and the surprisingly sturdy, mineral-scented malbec.
From delicate to rustic, to silky and iron-fisted, the wines match with the rich local cuisine of cassoulet, wild game, duck confit, foie gras, the earthy, buttery Tomme de Pyrenees cheese and dark chocolate desserts.
The southwest portion of France has had quite an history and many of its appellations were planted before anything in Bordeaux. Due to the region’s proximity to the strategic Dordogne and Garonne rivers, the climate was favorable and shipping to other regions not complicated. But the introduction of the railway system allowed better appellations that had not been in the limelight, like Bordeaux, to come to the top and overshadow Southwest France.
Though important Southwest France appellations like Bergerac became AOCs in 1936, most of the others were officially recognized muchlater. Southwest France is a region that is still developing in terms of wine quality and world recognition. The combination of the economic downturn and concurrent increasing interest in indigenous grapes might favor the region,in comparison to more established ones.
Southwest France has 850 independent producers and 23 cooperative cellars. They are grouped into more than two dozen grape-growing appellations with names like Cahors, Gaillac and Madiran. And they’re grouping stronger together over the years to reach the zeniths of fame, putting their wines out into the world.
Clos Triguedina 2010. SAQ # 00746412. $28.85
Coffee liqueur, dry black fruits with dark chocolate. Full body. Very smooth and elegant. with polished tannins. Amazing length. Poetry in a glass. Very remarkable. 95/100
Ode d’Aydie 2012. SAQ # 10675298. $19.35
Woody with notes of vanilla bean. Black plums with animal nuances. Full body. Juicy and muscular with round tannins. Long in the mouth. Black tobacco finish. Young with lots of promise. Remarkable wine. 95/100
Montus 2010. SAQ # 00705483. $30.25
Electric nose of grilled and roasted black fruits. Woody with cigar tobacco notes. Coconut and dark chocolate. Very young. Striking mouthfeel. Silky and elegant despite the puckering tannins. Young with lots of promise. 97/100
Les Comtes Cahors. SAQ # 00315697. $15.85
Violets, black cherry. Very meaty nose. Full body. Polished tannins. Earthy and mineral flavors with a savoury animal aftertaste. 93/100
Chateau Peyros 2011. SAQ # 00488742. $21.85
Aromas of cloves, black pepper and ink. Full body. Muscular with pure black fruits aromas. Big tannins. Spice flavors such as cinnamon and cocoa come to mind. Remarkable wine as well. 92/100
Torus Brumont. SAQ # 00466656. $16.95
Austere nose. Toasty oak, cocoa with notes of cassis. Severe and powerful. Good volume and length. Big tannins. Lots of promise ahead. 94/100