Picture: Winemaker and Owner Dominique Ferret and Christian G.E.Schiller
The Cotes de Gascogne is part of what is called South West France. The brandy-producing region Armagnac is situated within the Cotes de Gascogne.
South West France
Picture: On the Roads of the Gascogne
The South West is a wine region in France covering several wine-producing areas situated respectively inland from, and south of, the wine region of Bordeaux. These areas, which have a total of 16,000 hectares of vineyards, consist of several discontinuous wine islands. The brandy-producing region Armagnac is situated within the Gascony, one of the wine islands.
Even though Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc are grown in certain parts, the South West remains first and foremost a veritable mosaic of ancient grape varieties, unique to the region, including the red grape varieties Négrette, Duras, Tannat (now also the signature grape of Uruguy), Malbec (now also the signature grape of Argentina) and the white grape varities Colombard (at some point very popular in the US), Mauzac, Manseng, Courbu and Baroque.
Picture: The AOC Wine Regions of the South West of France
The South West of France is also known for a its delicious regional cuisine: Foie gras, Jambon de Bayonne and Cassoulet, to name a few.
There are 18 AOCs, 20 Vins de Pays, with the following the best known appellations, from the south-west up to the north-east:
• The Pyrenean Piedmont: Irouléguy, Jurançon
• The Gascogne Basin: Côtes de Gascogne, Madiran, Saint Mont
• The Garonne Basin: Gaillac, Fronton, Côtes du Brulhois
• The Lot Valley: Cahors
• The Aveyron: Marcillac
Côtes de Gascogne
The Association of Producers of the Vins de Pays Côtes de Gascogne determines the production standards and is controlling the respect of these rules. The association counts at this moment approximately 1,400 wine makers. Of them, 1,300 are a member of a wine co-operative. The remainder is independently working winemakers, including Domaine Guillaman.
2009 Cotes de Gascogne, Domaine Guillaman
Picture: 2009 Cotes de Gascogne, Domaine Guillaman
Technical information: Colombard and Ugni Blanc, tank-fermented at very cool temperatures to keep the fruit flavors fresh, 11.5 percent alcohol, natural cork.
Colombard is an early fruiting white variety of wine grape, better known as French Colombard in the US. In France, Colombard was traditionally grown in the Charentes and Gascony for distilling into Cognac and Armagnac, respectively. It is also widely grown in South Africa where it is known as Columbar, and to a lesser extent in Australia.
Much of the success of California’s bulk white wine production in California’s early days can be attributed to this highly-productive varietal. At one time, it represented close to 40% of all white grapes under vine in the state. Colombard helped establish California, Australia and South Africa as producers of clean, crisp, value-priced, white wines. Over time, however it has been crowded out by Chardonnay in the US.
Picture: Room with a View in the South West of France, near Bayonne.
Ugni Blanc (or Trebbiano) is the second most widely planted grape in the world. It gives good yields. It can be fresh and fruity. Ugni Blanc is the most widely planted white grape of France, particularly along the Provençal coast, in the Gironde and Charente. Like Colombard, it is important in the production of Cognac and Armagnac.
My tasting notes: overwhelming attack of white peach and grapefruit on the nose, very fruity on the palate, good acidity, light-bodied wine, attractive finish, great summer party wine.
Domaine Guillaman, Dominique Ferret
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