Wines from the Southwest of France are sometimes and mistakenly associated with Bordeaux wines. The wines of the Southwest has also for a long been overshadowed by its big brother Bordeaux that has been the big name in the southwestern France. Bordeaux is actually in southwestern France, but when discussing wine, special treatment is given to the wines from Bordeaux and they are not to be included into the category of wines from the southwest. Geographically, the district extends from the Atlantic coast to Rodez in the Northeastern part of the district and then down to the Spanish border. The Southwestern wine district is basically one of the oldest in France. However, the Phylloxera insect devastated the entire wine district in the 1800s and it has taken a long time for it to come back.
Today, the district includes very different wines, since both the climate, the soil type and the use of grape varieties depend on where you are. There are 22 different appellations AOP in which the best known are Cahors, Bergerac, Gaillac, Fronton, Buzet, Madiran, Montbazillac and Jurançon.
The two latter appellations are sweet dessert wines that at best can compete with Sauternes wines in Bordeaux, but at a much more attractive price. The Southwest region has a wide range of grape varieties. The influence of Bordeaux is marked by the use of Sauvignon, Sémillon, Ugni Blanc, and Muscadelle for the whites and Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Merlot for the reds. The Syrah- and Cinsault grapes come from Languedoc-Roussillon in the East. As if this was not enough, there are also local grape varieties such as Mansenc, Arrufiac, Courbu, Ondenc, Negrette and many more ... All this together contribute to offer a wide range of different wines in the South West, that definitely satisfies the curious wine taster.