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The wine growing area of the Sud-Ouest is spread over a lot of French regions: Aquitaine, Limousin, Auvergne and Midi-Pyrénées. This region has an oceanic climate : summers are warm and the late autumns are favour the ripening of the grapes. The soil is mostly clayey-gravelly in the north of this huge vineyard. The other plots, further south, are composed of silica, sandstone, molasses, and bank gravels. The Madiran soil is argilo-calcareous, as well as in Cahors, which contains also pebbles and ferruginous sand. The vine area in PDO is 70548 acres.

Main grapes varieties

White grape varieties

  • Sémillon : this grape variety originating in Bordeaux is very aromatic, with a lack of acidity, quite alcoholic and is often blended with the Sauvignon.
  • Sauvignon : fine and balanced, this grape variety acquires a significant range of aromas.
  • Muscadelle : this discreet grape variety,  with a floral note is often blended with other varieties.
  • Ugni blanc : gives wines with a good acidity.
  • Petit Manseng : this is the variety of « Jurançon », where fineness, exotic and/or dried fruits, honey and spices are mixed up.
  • Other white grape varieties : Chenin blanc, Ondenc, Camaralet de Lasseube, Courbu, Raffiat and Arrufiac.

Red grape varieties

  • Cabernet franc : gives fruity, floral and spicy wines.
  • Cabernet sauvignon : gives fruity and coloured wines, suitable for ageing.
  • Merlot : rapidly evolving grape variety, gives coloured wines with concentrated aromas.
  • Malbec : also named ‘Cot’, gives a fruity, coloured wine which evolves rapidly.
  • Tannat : gives a strong, coloured and tannic wine.
  • Négrette : gives aromatic and slightly tannic wines, to be drunk when they are « young ».
  • Fer servadou : gives  a pleasant and spicy wine with red fruit aromas.
  • Other red grape varieties : Fer, Mérille, Jurançon noir, Syrah, Abouriou.

Dordogne or Bergeracois' appellations

  • PDO Bergerac : covers 23722 acres of vines and is available in white, red and rosé. The Côtes-de-Bergerac are produced in red wines and in mellow white wines.
  • PDO Montravel : produces a dry white wine, mostly aged in barrels.
  • PDO Monbazillac : produces the famous syrupy white wine of Dordogne.
  • PDO Pécharmant : produces the red wine situated on the right coast of Dordogne.
  • PDO Rosette : produces a sweet white wine.
  • PDO Saussignac : occupying nearly 123 acres, produces a mellow or sweet red wine, of very high quality.

Béarn's appellations

  • PDO Béarn and Béarn-Bellocq : produces mostly red wines.
  • PDO Jurançon : produces only dry, syrupy and sweet white wines.
  • PDO Madiran : produces a red wine of good storage, generally based on Tannat.
  • PDO Pacherenc-du-vic-bihl : produces dry white wines to be drunk « young » or mellow wines , able to be stored for a long time.

The other main appellations of Sud-Ouest : PDO Cahors (producing a strong and tannic red wine elaborated on the basis of a Cot or Malbec variety), PDO Irouleguy ( situated in Pays Basque, and produces mostly red wines), PDO Buzet, PDO, Gaillac, PDO Marcillac...