France: South West France

Gascony and the Basque Country

Wines from north of the Pyrenees
By Paul Strang

This Guide was last updated on 28 July 2011
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Main appellations

Jurançon

White wine appellation for sweet wines only (see Jurançon Sec below for dry wines) made mainly from the Petit and Gros Manseng varieties. The very sweetest wines, some of which may be designated as Vendanges Tardives are usually made solely from the Petit Manseng variety with the grapes left to dry out on the vine in the process known as passerillage. Fermentation and ageing is usually in oak barrels.

Jurançon Sec

Dry whites account for around 50% of the production in Jurançon and are made mainly from Gros Manseng, with some Petit Manseng and Petit Courbu grapes.

Madiran

Appellation for red wine blends containing 40-60% Tannat together with Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and a little Fer Servadou. Ages well. Formerly tough, austere and tannic, but nowadays tending to a softer easier style.

Irouléguy

Red, white and rosé appellation where the reds account for most of the production, but the rosés are catching up fast. The red wine blends contain Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Tannat. The whites are produced from blending together Gros and/or Petit Manseng with Petit Courbu.

Béarn

Appellation mainly for red and rosé wines, with some white too. Tannat, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc are used for red and rosé blends, and the whites are made using Petit and Gros Manseng and the very local Raffiat de Moncade. The appellation covers the same area as Jurançon and Madiran as well as having its own small area centred on the town of Belloc.

Pacherenc du Vic Bilh

Contrasting styles of dry and sweet white wines from the same geographical area as Madiran. Growers must have at least 60% of Petit Manseng and/or Petit Courbu, usually blended with some Gros Manseng, and, in the dry wines Arrufiac and occasionally a little Sauvignon Blanc.

Saint Mont VDQS

Mainly red wine production with equal quantities of rosé and white. The reds are blends of Tannat (up to 60%), Fer Servadou, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. The white blends contain Petit and Gros Manseng, Petit Courbu and Arrufiac. Mainly cooperative production.

Tursan VDQS

Red, rosé and white wines produced from blends of Tannat, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, and for the whites, Baroque (50-80%), Petit and Gros Manseng, and Sauvignon Blanc.

IGP (Vin de Pays)

There are several IGP (formerly Vin de Pays) designations in this micro-region, but by far the most common is IGP des Côtes de Gascogne, primarily for whites from Colombard, Ugni Blanc and Gros Manseng, but also for reds from a range of varieties. Many are labelled by variety. IGP des Pyrénées Atlantiques tend to come from growers who cannot or choose not to comply with the AC rules.

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