Vin de Pays des Côtes de Gascogne
A white for summer barbecues – though to be honest there’s no bad time to drink this tasty, versatile wine. Crisp, dry and fruity, it’s great for quaffing on its own or with lighter food. It has more going on that virtually any other wine you can get for the same price.
Where is Gascogne?
Gascony is in South west France, and is now generally thought of as the area below Bordeaux. As a larger historical region it included Bordeaux’s Medoc peninsula and the Basque Country of the Pyrenees. Culturally, it was the literary home of d’Artagnan (perhaps Dogtanian as well, I’m not sure) and Cyrano de Bergerac.
Beverage wise its most famous product is Armagnac, the other quality grape brandy which is lesser known than Cognac. But now its undistilled wines are increasingly popular.
Here are a couple I’ve tried and enjoyed recently:
Domaine de Maubet IGP Côtes de Gascogne 2014 (€14.99, Honest 2 Goodness)
This is a blend of Colombard, Ugni Blanc, Gros Manseng and Sauvignon Blanc (proportions not given) and weighs in at a very lunch-friendly 11.5% abv. For a Vin de Pays it has remarkable concentration, with lemon and grapefruit keeping it fresh and some tropical notes adding another dimension. There’s no sign of oak – and nor should there be, the fruit is allowed to express itself.
Venturer IGP Côtes de Gascogne 2014 (€6.99, Aldi)
No the price is not a misprint / typo / mistake! Again this is a very fruity, easy-drinking style of wine. It has far more character that you’ve a right to expect for this price tag – and it comes with a handy screwcap so there’s no synthetic cork you normally get with less expensive wine.
The blend is 80% Colombard, 20% Gros Manseng giving citrus and a touch of melon. At this price you can fill your fridge!
The region’s viticultural borders now align with those of Armagnac, across the three departments of Gers, Landes and Lot-et-Garonne. In the Gers the production volumes are approximately: 91% white, 8% red and 1% rosé wine. This is very atypical for the southwest of France, because in neighbouring departments mainly red wine is produced (e.g. Madiran). Around three quarters of production is exported.
The white grapes of Côtes de Gascogne are:
Colombard is the mainstay of the area, sometimes seen in cheaper blends from California, South Africa and Australia, but at its best here
Ugni Blanc is used for Armagnac production, and even more so for Cognac production (the other side of Bordeaux). It also features in Italy under the name Trebbiano (yuck!)
Petit and Gros Manseng are traditional grapes of SW France, particularly Saint-Mont and Jurancon.
Muscadelle, Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc are of course the three white grapes permitted in white Bordeaux wine.
Len de l’El (aka Cavalier, prominent in AC Gaillac) is a rarity.