Master Sommelier Fred Dex is a treasure trove of knowledge about the wines of Southwest France but he also knows when to let the bottles do the talking! From familiar grapes like Cabernet Franc and Malbec to new-to-me varieties like Duras and Petit Courbu; I was impressed by the diversity, quality, and overall affordability of the delicious wines that Fred shared during our lively tasting.
The more than 6,000 vineyards of Southwest France cover an expansive territory of 47,000 hectares that stretches from the hills of the Massif Central to the foothills of the Pyrenees, from the banks of the Garonne River to the Atlantic beaches of the Basque country. The area boasts an infinite variety of soils and diverse micro-climates that nurture the growth of 300 grape varieties, 120 of which are native to the area and 12 of these are considered essential. The wines of Southwest France truly express terroir. The region's rich history of winemaking can be traced back to around 125 BC when the Romans first planted vineyards there.
Are you ready to take your palate on an adventure to Southwest France? Here are five fabulous wines that received high ratings from Wine Enthusiast and were featured at the recent 2nd Annual Southwest Wines of France Gourmet French Fries Competition. Yes, fries! These lovely wines aren't just for fancy foods but can easily upgrade a casual meal to fabulous!
Alain Brumont 2011 Les Jardins de Bouscassé (Pacherenc du Vic Bilh) ($15)
Wine Enthusiast: 90 points
This delicious blend of Petit Courbu and Petit Manseng is a wonderful introduction to two grapes of Southwest France. Aromatic and luscious with hints of spice, this is a beautifully balanced dry wine.
Elegant and approachable, Alain Brumont 2011 Les Jardins de Bouscassé was selected by the judges at the 2016 Southwest Wines of France Gourmet French Fries Competition as the best wine pairing with the winning fries - Carnita Fries by Chef Ricky Camacho of Añejo restaurant.
Château Lagrézette Le Rosé de Julie 2015 (Côtes du Lot) ($25)
Wine Enthusiast: 87 points
Crisp and elegant, this pale pink Malbec rosé is delightfully dry and a graceful expression of this bold red grape. Light enough to sip as an apéritif but absolutely food-friendly.
Domaine du Moulin 2013 (Gaillac) ($12)
Wine Enthusiast: 88 points, Best Buy
Fruity and juicy, this vibrant red beauty is a 50/50 blend of Duras and Syrah. A guaranteed crowd-pleaser that tastes quite expensive!
Château du Cèdre Malbec 2012 (Cahors) ($25)
Wine Enthusiast: 91 points
Malbec may be synonymous with Argentina but this bold red grape is actually indigenous to Southwest France where it is known as Cot. Balancing power with finesse, this rich wine is an excellent expression of the emblematic grape of the Cahors appellation. Drink one now and keep another bottle around to open in a few years - this wine has enough structure to age gracefully.
Jean-Luc Baldés Clos Triguedina Probus Malbec 2007 (Cahors) ($67)
Wine Enthusiast: 93 points
An outstanding example of the aging ability of Malbec from the Southwest of France, this impressive wine wows the palate with rich dark fruit and velvety tannins.
330 million bottles are produced each year in the Southwest of France; there really is a wine for every taste and budget. Go ahead and give them a swirl, you won't be disappointed!