Southwest France is a treasure trove of wine discoveries you won’t find anywhere else.
Madiran is home to the French Paradox bold red Tannat grape. Cahors nurtures the world’s original red Malbec. Monbazillac’s late-harvest botrytis turns the Sémillon, Sauvignon Blanc and Muscadelle blend into a loveable sweet white. And those are only a few of the tastes.
This region has an amazing treasure trove of 130 of France’s native grapes. Ampelographers flock here to study the grapes.
These ancient grapes grow on steep mountains and in rolling foothills near rivers and canals that flow from the Pyrénées Mountains and the Massif Central into the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea.
— Wines of SW France (@WinesofSWFrance) March 13, 2018
Please inspect the map (download here). The best way to understand the Southwest is to look at each map color as an appellation island with its own terroirs, native grapes, and unique tastes. Within the appellations are Medieval bastide towns and traditional restaurants that show off the region’s great gastronomy.
The Southwest men and women have plenty of stories to tell. Winemakers here are mostly children of winemakers who are children of winemakers who are children of winemakers. And, like their ancestors, they are trailblazers.
They are at the forefront of modern winemaking using viticultural techniques that respect the environment and are sustainable. Some are exploring the genetic makeup of old native grape varieties to create new wines that are resistant to diseases and able to face climate change. Most practice minimal intervention in the vineyards and in their cellars.
You can visit, and you should, but, really, just open a bottle. Each sip reveals what you always wanted from a wine: Dynamic taste, amazing variety, and serious value. There is no need to look anywhere else.
Last Updated: May 4, 2023