Vinodiversity in France

France has given the world much that is good in wine. Unfortunately many wine drinkers though only know and appreciate a few of the many grape varieties in France.

We all know of Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz etc, but what of Petit Manseng, Tannat and Carignan?

This page sets out some of the interesting French varieties and explains something about the magic of the French region I love most - South West France.

I first wrote this page during an extended stay in the Department of Lot-et-Garonne during 2009. What I wrote then is reproduced in the white box below, and there are stories about that journey further down the page.

Further stories relate to another short visit journey in 2013, including some from the planning stage and later after my return.

Here is what I wrote in 2009

Vinodiversity is on a fact finding mission in South West France. This page will evolve with a series of stories. You might like to add your own or to comment on those already here. There is plenty of vino and plenty of diversity here.

The wine regions radiate out from Bordeaux, the principal appellation, port and political centre. Bordeaux is the major wine region of France with red wines based on Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet France, Malbec, Petit Verdot and Carmenere and whites based on Sauvignon blanc, Semillon and Muscadelle.

But the diversity of South West France is in the minor regions, Bergerac, Monbazillac, Buzet, Gaillac, Cotes de Duras, Fronton, Cahors, Irouleguy, Saussignac, Cotes de Marmande, Tursan, Madiran, Jurancon and the wonderfully named Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh. Try pronouncing the last one after a couple of glasses of Petit Manseng.

This article has a brief overview of the Vineyards of South West France

And then there's the food...

The Food of South West France

They eat well here. They live on well fed ducks and geese, wonderful fresh fruit and vegetables (where do you think Rouge de Marmande tomatoes come from?) and they live longer than anywhere else in France. It's all the saturated fats they eat. The real secret is that they drink Tannat wine. See this article about why Tannat is good for your heart. I'll be sharing a few recipes and food pairing ideas from this region. Or you might like to see Stephanie Alexander's Cooking and Travelling in South West France.

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Stories about South Western France

Click below to see the individual stories...

Madam Murat - a restaurant, a social history museum or a time capsule 
We visited Madame Murat's Restaurant - Chez Jeanne - in Pomarede in South West France. Not the best restaurant I've been to but one of the most interesting. …

French Onion Soup, Gascon Style Not rated yet
This version of French Onion Soup uses duck fat rather than butter or oil to cramelise the onions. Is it healthy? Well if you drink some Tannat red wine …

Petit manseng and its big brother Not rated yet
There are a few wineries in Australia using Petit manseng, but no-one using Gros Manseng, as far as I know. Both are used here in the Southwest of …

Black Wines of Cahors Not rated yet
The Cahors region in South West France is justly famous for its "Black Wines, made from Malbec. The name predates phylloxera which destroyed the industry …

The food and wine of Gascony Not rated yet
The region of Gascony in France is not clearly defined. It can be described as a triangular region bounded on the west by the Atlantic ocean, to the South …

Not Just Tomatoes in Cotes Du Marmandais. Not rated yet
Marmande is justly famous for its tomatoes. Rouge de Marmande is known around the world as a first class variety. It even tastes like a tomato. You …

Wines for Lunch on a Sunny Afternoon Not rated yet
A Cremant de Limoux and a rose from Cote de Brulhois on a warm afternoon. At our chateau in SW France (we don't own it, we have just borrowed it for …

A Perfect Gamay Not rated yet
Brouilly is the largest of the Beaujolais Crus, making lots of lovely light red wine from the Gamay grape. It's not as popular as it should be but fashions …

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