De la misma manera que describen acertadamente nuestra área de cruceros en el suroeste de Francia como el "oculto rincón de Francia", por lo que el vinos del suroeste de Francia puede ser descrita como sin explorar - pero definitivamente vale la pena explorar!
La historia del Suroeste (Suroeste) France wines is in itself an amazing story. This official wine area can be divided into a number of specific wine regions, incluyendo Gaillac, Frente, Cahors, Saint-Sardos, Cotes du Brulhois, Côtes de Duras, Buzet y Jurançon. Estas regiones vitivinícolas son antiguas - la mayoría de ellos se remontan a la época romana, y Gaillac es la región vinícola de segundo más antiguo en Francia. It was wines from these ancient vineyards that were exported by sea from Bordeaux, y, de hecho eran conocidos como los vinos de Burdeos, or sometimes ‘claret’. In the late 1800s land owners around Bordeaux itself started to plant their own vines, and all the small producers in the hinterland faced great difficulty marketing their product when faced with the industrial-scale production that then was established around Bordeaux.
Particularmente en los últimos 30 años, the development of wine production in South West France has been remarkable. La región se caracteriza por los pequeños productores, many of whom have a high quality product, but they do not have the marketing budget of the big chateaux of international acclaim. En el Saint Louis, we of course specialise in the wines of the region in which we cruise, and our guests often take great pleasure in their journey of discovery of wines that they had never heard of before.
In some cases the distinctiveness of the wine is the result of the use of very specific grape varieties, such as for example the Tannat variedad que se encuentra en el Frontón, o el Malbec utilizados en Cahors. In many cases also it is the skill of the wine-maker that results in something quite distinctive and exceptional. It is for this reason that producers of wines in South West France are increasingly winning national and international awards.
En el Saint Louis, llevamos más de 50 wines from South West France, muchos de los cuales son los vinos premiados. We have also developed some very interesting wine visits. These include a visit to the producer who is making wine to a formula that her ancestor used in producing wines for the court of Louis Quatorze. We also visit the descendent of d’Artagnan, la fama de los tres mosqueteros. His motto is “Un vin pour tous, tous pour un vin!" (Un vino para totodo por un vino wine!)
En el suroeste de Francia, traditionally-made local drinks go well beyond wine, pese a su importancia. During our second week, Entre los agentes y Castets-en-Dorthe, we come into Armagnac country. Armagnac is a distillate from fermented grape juice – the up-market artisan-produced version of brandy. Aún mejor, most Armagnac producers also make Floc de Gascogney, utilizando como base de Armagnac. These two drinks are of great influence in the culinary tradition of south west France, and can often be found with such varied products as foie gras and prunes.
A further drink-based visit that always goes down well is to the remarkable 84-year old artisan distiller in Montech. This charming gentleman producer makes eau-de-vie and liqueurs from just about every fruit imaginable.
En muchos sentidos, the wine and other drink production that we find in south west France parallels the other charms of this area – high quality, pequeña escala, profundamente rural, essentially genuine, y en gran parte sin descubrir. This is one of the many reasons why a cruise on the Saint Louis into the Escondido rincón de Francia trae consigo descubrimientos inesperados tantos.