The Wine of Gascony
The Gascogne region in south west France is renowned for its production of Armagnac, a distinctive kind of brandy. Thanks to an increase of wine making in the district, it now produces almost as much wine as Alsace.
This beautiful, lush green area covers all of Gers, as well as parts of Landes and Lot-et-Garonne. It was here that the Romans introduced the art of Viticulture which is the study, science and production of grapes. It’s no surprise they chose the area as the region is essentially split in two by the river Ardour.
On one bank is Madiran – a region where the Tannat grape is grown abundantly along with the Arrufiac and Tursan grapes which are also cultivated here. On the other side of the river are the vineyards of the Gers. This sandy but fertile bank is ideal for production of Armagnac brandy using the Ugni Blanc grape variety, whilst the other production area of Côtes de St Mont enjoys the positive attributes of the land on each side as it straddles the river Ardour.
In Gascony, and throughout most of France, food and wine are symbiotic. The Gascons enjoy consuming wine within their cuisine as an ingredient as well as a refreshing and social drink. The Cotes de Gascogne wines complement the region’s fine dishes. The red wines go very well with the hearty, dense family-style Gascon stews like garbure or duck cassoulet. Foie gras the delicacy of Gascogne, can be equally compatible with the crisp white wines, while, desserts such as Pastis Gascon, a superfine puff pastry dessert, has Armagnac as one of its ingredients. Armagnac brandy is also the most popular ‘digestif’ following a wholesome Gascon meal as it is believed to aid digestion.
Students of The Gascony Cookery School visit the Château de Cassaigne, Condom’s eminent Armagnac distillery. Here you will learn about the history of this local brandy whilst indulging in a short – optional! – degustation. To learn more click here
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Dave, Vikki and Bernard