White grapes varieties
SOUTH WEST VINEYARDS
Colombard, Mauzac, Petit and Gros Manseng, Petit Courbu, Ondenc and Lendelel all have a part to play in the far too often unexpected charm of dry and sweet white wines from the region.
This typically Gascon grape is planted over 5,000 hectares. It produces fresh and lively wines with intense tropical fruit aromas and lasting energy. Today, Colombard is mainly used to produce Côtes de Gascogne and Armagnac. Because of the recognised quality of the wines it produces, this grape is enjoying exciting development all over the world.
Courbu blanc et petit courbu
These two varieties from the Pyrenees are from the same family but are very different. They are planted in the Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh, Saint-Mont (minimum 20% of the vines) and Jurançon appellations.
A white grape originally from the Pyrenean foothills, around 3,000 hectares are grown in the Southwest of France where it produces mainly dry Jurançon, Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh and Tursan wines. It is also used in Saint-Mont and Gascony where it gives dry white wines their aromas and freshness.
The Petit Manseng variety is related to Gros Manseng but has smaller grapes and thicker skin. It can develop a high sugar content while retaining a significant level of acidity, both needed to balance the best sweet and dessert wines. Generally harvested in November, its naturally low yields are concentrated through partial dehydration of the grapes on the vine. By itself or blended with Gros Manseng, Arrufiac or Courbu, Petit Manseng raises the Jurançon and Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh wines to the level of the most famous dessert wines in the world.
Loin de l’œil (len de l’el)
The Len de l’el grape is only grown in Gaillac. Its name (which translates as “far from the eye”) comes from the distance between the first bunch and the branch from which it originally grew. This distance is also accentuated by the length of the stem on which the bunch grows. It creates good dry wines with elegant and quite floral aromas. It is also increasingly used to make sweet and dessert wines thanks to its remarkable capacity for concentration when ripened on the vine.
Everything points to Mauzac being native to the Tarn Valley. Its grapes can develop a high concentration of sugar and are used to make dry wines, sweet wines and sparkling wines, essentially in Gaillac. The characteristic aromas of this grape evoke fresh apple and pear in the dry wines and also notes of quince and honey in the sweet wines.
Originally from the Tarn Valley, at one time it was planted all the way up to Entre-deux-Mers. Today it is only grown in Gaillac where it produces excellent but rare sweet wines.
Arrufiac seems to have its roots all along the Adour Valley. It almost disappeared because of the devastation caused by phylloxera but today is used in Pacherenc and Saint-Mont white wines. It is particularly enjoyed for its refined and distinctive aromas.
Often spelt Barroque, this local grape variety is the backbone of white wines from the Tursan appellation. Even though it is now almost exclusively grown in Landes, it was previously known throughout the Southwest of France. Pressed from ripe grapes, the juice from this variety can have a high sugar content. It makes for lively, fresh and aromatic wines.
South West Vineyards
Centre INRA - Chemin de Borde Rouge
CS 52637 - 31321 Castanet Tolosan cedex
Phone : (+33) 5 61 73 87 06
Fax : (+33) 5 61 75 64 39
Monday to Friday : 9 am - 5 pm
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