Traditional wines of Aquitaine
From Bordeaux to Biarritz, wine is life in the Aquitaine. For the purists, there is wine tasting. For art lovers, there are the museums on wine and vines. For the curious the tourist office organize tours of the vineyards and wineries. The non-conformist can cross the vineyards with a balloon, on foot, on horseback, by bicycle and can stop en route at one of the castles. And the hedonist of us can enjoy a stay in a spa amid the vineyards.
The Aquitaine, as the largest French region of the appellation d'origine contrôlée (AOC) wines, represents more than 30% of French wine production, with nearly 140,000 hectares of vineyard and a production of around 8 million hectolitres per year.
In Aquitaine, 85% of the vineyards are located around Bordeaux and produce reputable grands crus, such as Margaux, Yquem, Petrus or Mouton Rothschild.
Bordeaux is the city that best illustrates the wine traditions, with its wine week the Chateaux and houses are decorated with rich frontages which witnesses to the prosperous period of the wine.
Since ancient times, the vine has shaped the landscape of Gironde, according to the nature of its soil: gravel, limestone or clay. Brought along the ocean, it gained the banks and hillsides of the estuary, and then those of the Garonne and Dordogne rivers. Here, right at the edge, people settled through the centuries.
At Pauillac, they built houses of light-coloured stone to live in; at Blaye and Saint-Emilion a citadel and a fort to protect themselves; everywhere, from Médoc to Entre-Deux-Mers, châteaux and cellars for wine-making; and finally at Bordeaux, an illustrious city where they could trade and surround themselves with culture.
In the Dordogne, in the heart of purple Périgord, take advantage of a cruise in a traditional flat-bottomed barge on the River Dordogne and discover the mediaeval town of Bergerac, birthplace of Cyrano and famous for its wines.
Monbazillac, Côtes de Bergerac, Pécharmant… all the appellations of the Bergerac vineyards illustrate the expertise of more than 1000 wine growers.
Come and meet the owners of the vineyards in the Bergerac area for walks among the vines, a visit to the cellars, a taste of the wine. Lessons in wine tasting are also available, to enable you to deepen your knowledge. About 100 châteaux are open to the public.
The walled towns and mediaeval castles in the heart of Gascony, the country of d'Artagnan, are testament to the rich history shared by the areas of Landes, Gers and Lot-et-Garonne. It is from this land that Armagnac has been produced for more than seven centuries.
The oldest spirit in France, Armagnac is obtained from the distillation of white wine in a still, followed by long ageing in oak casks.
Around 300 châteaux are open to the public, with commentaries from the wine growers, enabling visitors to discover the cellars and the vineyards, and, of course, to taste this product of the soil.
The regions of Aquitaine and Midi-Pyrénées form a veritable mosaic of widely varying vineyards, grouped together as the "Vignobles du Sud-Ouest" (vineyards of the south-west).
From the banks of the Dordogne to the Lot valley, from the Basque country to Gascony and the Agen region, from the south of the Massif Central to the slopes of Tarn, from the land bordering the Garonne to the gates of Toulouse... the vineyards of the south-west are home to the widest selection of individual grape varieties, perpetuating the link between ancient wine-making traditions and the characteristic wines and spirits.
This illustrious inventory, which has passed the threshold of the third millennium, includes no less than 20 appellations d'origine.