France: South West France

Valleys of the Tarn and Lot

The wines of Cahors, Gaillac, Fronton and beyond
By Paul Strang

This Guide was last updated on 28 July 2011
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Main appellations


Appellation exclusively for red wines mainly from Malbec (minimum 70%) often known locally as Auxerrois sometimes blended with up to 30% Merlot or up to 10% Tannat. Styles vary from traditional through to light and fruity or sometimes blockbusting New World types.


Appellation for the whole range of red, rosé, dry whites, sweet (doux) whites and sparkling wines. The reds may be varietal wines but sometimes blends using the grapes Duras, Fer Servadou, known here as Braucol, and Syrah, with some Gamay for ‘Primeur’ wines. The whites (and sparkling) are from Mauzac, Len de l’El, and a little Muscadelle and Sauvignon Blanc. A speciality for dry, lightly sparkling wine is Gaillac Fraicheur Perlé. The dry white Gaillac is perhaps the best known internationally. Sparkling wines nowadays tend mainly to be made by the old-fashioned ‘Méthode Gaillacoise’, in which the wine is fermented only once and there is no added sugar or yeast.


Mainly red wine production, but growing production of rosés too. Blends are predominantly from the Négrette grape complemented by the two Cabernets, Syrah and Gamay. No AC for white wines but there are some nice Vins de Pays from the area.


A small appellation for reds and a few rosés. The distinctive wines have a pronounced soft fruit character and are made almost exclusively from the Mansois variety, the local name for Fer Servadou.

Entraygues-et-le-Fel end Estaing

Two small VDQS appellations making light minerally whites and simply, fruity reds and rosés. The latter are mostly from Mansois and Cabernet Franc and the whites from Chenin Blanc.

Coteaux du Quercy VDQS

Gutsy reds and rosés produced using mainly Cabernet Franc with Tannat, Gamay, Merlot and Malbec. Particularly good with local duck dishes.

IGP (Vin de Pays) du Côtes du Tarn

These IGP (formerly Vins de Pays) wines come in all three colours from an area which includes the whole of Gaillac but extends beyond it southwards. Variable quality of honest country wines from the Gaillac varieties, also Jurançon Noir and Portugais Bleu.

IGP (Vin de Pays) du Lot

A growing production of wines in all three colours, often using grape varieties not allowed in the neighbouring appellations (e.g. Chardonnay, Syrah). Variable quality but the best are excellent and may not be cheap. Vins de Pays became IGP in 2010.

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