The wine region which extends south from the Bordeaux region unto the Pyrenees along the Franco-Spanish border is divided in 2 distinct sub-regions: Bergerac/Marmandais and the ‘rest’. The former can be regarded as a continuation of St-Emilion and Graves of Bordeaux as the style and grapes are practically the same. The ‘rest’ is a patchwork of small isolated wine areas that are different like chalk and cheese from one and other. One thing ties them together: the wines are distinct and strong in character and are sought by connoisseurs as they are definitely not wines for the common taste.
Bergerac: The vineyards surround the city of Bergerac. Red, white and sweet wines are produced in Bordeaux styles with the same grapes grown – Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sémillon and Sauvignon Blanc. There are 10 appellations but most productions come under AOC Côtes-de-Bergerac (red, rosé and white) and AOC Monbazillac (sweet).
Marmandais and Duras: Similar to Bergerac these 2 small areas are extensions of the Bordeaux wine region. The wine style and the grape varieties used are similar. White and sweet whites are produced. Reds are increasing in volume. The wines like those from Bergerac are of reasonable quality but because they are Bordeaux in style therefore they are often over-shadowed by the wines from Bordeaux.
Cahors: The vineyards east of the town of the same name traditionally produce a dark-red wine - powerful, severe and tannic especially when young. But now with newer ways of wine making the wines have been made mellower for drinking earlier. The grape uniquely present is the local variety of Malbec often blended with about 20% of Merlot.
Gaillac: After the small town of the same name, Gaillac wines are known for its dry and sweet whites than for its red. The white grape used is the Mauzac (not planted elsewhere) usually blended with Muscadelle or Sauvignon Blanc. The most interesting Gaillac white wine is the ‘Perle’ (Pearl) which contains a slight amount of bubbles to keep the taste fresh and light.
Fronton: The vineyards are situated just north of the city of Toulouse. AOC Côtes-du-Frontonnais are red and rosé only. The wines are fresh, full of aroma (violet) and are uniquely made from the grape variety Negrette (only grown here).
Madiran: The Madiran and Juroncon areas are on the foothills of the Pyrenees close to the Spanish border. The main grape in Madiran wines is the Tannat. Its name gives away its nature – Tannat grapes are tannic (blended with Cabernet Sauvignon to soften it). Only red wines are made and they are powerful and sharp but can be kept for a good many years.
Juronçon: The vineyards are to the east of the city of Pau. The main wine is the gloriously sweet late-harvest wine (often as late as November/December to allow the grapes to accentuate their sugar content). There is also a dry Juroncon white wine. Both are made from the grape varieties of Gros Manseng and Petit Manseng.