This region has long been influenced by Bordeaux but, in recent years, has seen a great boost in the quality of its wines. The Atlantic Ocean makes the climate humid during spring and winter and hot during summer and autumn. Cahors, Fronton and Gaillac have more of a Mediterranean climate and vines are planted on slopes of varied soil types (chalk, alluvium, gravel and sand).
A wide range of grape varieties are planted: Abouriou, Arrufiac, Baroque, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Colombard, Mauzac, Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay and Syrah (to name a few!).
This region is home to many small domains and a diverse range of appellations. It offers excellent value for money.
The South West is divided into four sub-regions:
Le Bergeracois: Bergerac, Pécharmant, Montravel and Monbazillac.
La Bordure Aquitaine: Côtes Duras, Côtes de Buzet and Côtes du Marmandais.
Le Haut-Pays: Côtes du Frontonnais, Gaillac and Cahors.
Les vignobles des Pyrénées: Madiran, Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh, Côtes de St-Mont and Jurançon.
The best wines from Cahors, Madiran and Pécharmant are rich and tannic with a deep red colour whereas the style of those from Bergerac and the Côtes du Frontonnais are lighter and fruit driven. Dry whites in this region are fresh and light with good acidity while sweet wines are rich and luscious (much like Sauternes). These generally age well for a period of three to ten years.