The Tasting Panel magazine

April 2010

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Page 104 of 116

FRANCE TheBestof the West WINE STYLES EVOLVE IN SouTHWeSTeRN FRANCe story and photos by deborah Parker Wong Beyond Malbec, we’re more likely to be familiar with the literary and culinary inspirations of Southwestern France than with the grape varieties grown there. Truffles, foie gras and Armagnac originated here, as did Charles de Batz-Castelmore, immortalized as d’Artagnan in Alexandre Dumas’s classic novel The Three Musketeers. D’Artagnan was a son of the Armagnac-Ténaréze region, home to the wines of the Côtes de Gascogne. On a recent trip, I discovered the allure of this fascinating and historic region and its diverse grape varieties and appellations. Gascony André Dubosc of the Plaimont cooperative in Saint-Mont. The Gascogne regions of Côtes de Gascogne, Saint-Mont and Madiran/ Pacherenc-du-Vic-Bilh produce dry wines with an intensity not typically found elsewhere. Colombard vineyards that surround the Château de Cassaigne have been used for making dry whites since the late ‘70s, and independent Armagnac producers like Domaine Chiroulet and Domaine du Tariquet began making dry Côtes de Gascogne wines in the early ‘90s. Tariquet specializes in varietal bot- tlings of Ugni Blanc and Colombard, among others, that are underappreciated in the New World. A warm ’09 vintage produced focused citrus, guava and passion fruit flavors unique to the wines of the Côtes at a modest 11.5 percent alcohol. The light and color in the vineyards of Château de Cassaigne in Gascony bring to mind an impressionist painting. 104 / the tasting panel / april 2010

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