The Wines of France's Southwest (or South West)
How much do you know about this far-flung collection of wine appellations?
Unlike Spain and Italy — where undiscovered, traditional winemaking regions become rediscovered with amazing frequency — most of the wine regions of France are fairly well known by those in the wine trade and by many wine consumers.
An exception is France’s South West — or, perhaps, Southwest — a collection of small growing regions amassed under one title whose wines are increasingly being distributed in the U.S.
Test your knowledge of the region with this pop quiz:
1. Is the proper name for the region:
(a) South West
(c) either is fine
2. How many primary appellations are within the region?
3. How many can you name (without looking)?
4. Most wine buffs know that Malbec-based wines come from Argentina. What appellation within this region is historically a large producer of Malbec?
5. What wine appellation is best known for its Tannat-based wines?
Extra credit: Which South American country is building its reputation on Tannat?
6. The Côtes de Gascogne makes light, flavorful wines from Ugni Blanc and Colombard. What is the brandy that the region makes from these same grapes?
7. Which region is located in the foothills of the Pyrenees in French Basque country?
8. Which region is best-known for its fruity rosés?
9. Which appellation has the greatest diversity of wines?
10. What region was recently upgraded — in 2009 — to AOP status (previously known as AOC)?
(c) Côtes de Gascogne?
Answers: 1. (a) South West or Sud Ouest; 2. (a) 18 AOPs, although there are an additional 20 IGPs, which includes wines previously known as vins de pays; (3) well?????; 4. (a) Cahors; 5. (c) Madiran; extra credit: Uruguay; 6. Armagnac; 7. (c) Irouléguy; 8. OK, we decided to make one easy; 9. (c) Gaillac makes red, white, rosé, sparkling and sweet; 10. (b) Saint-Mont.