SW France as diverse as Portugal

The South West of France has as much diversity as Portugal thinks wine writer Tom Cannavan.

Maison des Vins du Sud-Ouest selection at Comptoir Gascon

Speaking at a tasting hosted at the Maison des Vins du Sud-Ouest at Comptoir Gascon, Cannavan said that the geographical and climatic diversity of the region as well as its plethora of grape varieties made it endlessly fascinating and adaptable.

“There are lots of different conditions,” he explained, “there are the cooler Atlantic and mountainous areas, the hotter continental centre and then the Mediterranean-influenced east.

“It’s a region capable of great diversity and I love the variety in the grapes as well. It makes the area quite exciting, in the same way as Portugal.”

Cannavan said that this diversity meant that the wines should be paired with foods from outside of the region more often.

“It’s a cliché to say that they always match with the region’s food, cassoulet and foie gras.

“So with a bit of lateral thinking we came up with some matches with British food. The challenge was to find some classic matches but ones which might not be traditional matches for these wines.”

Cannavan set himself a challenge indeed trying to match the wines with Christmas foods and said himself of the match of red wine and Christmas pudding: “It’s stupid…or brave, you decide. I just thought, ‘why the Hell not?’. Let’s see if it works.”

Each of the five dishes was matched with two wines from a PDO or PGI. Smoked salmon on sourdough toast with two whites from Saint Mont; Basque pâté on bricoche with two off-dry whites from Côtes de Gascogne; ballotine of turkey with chestnut with a rosé and a red from Fronton; roast beef with bread sauce and cranberries with two Madirans and the Christmas pudding with a red and a sweet Gaillac.

The matches were largely successful with many of the attendees pleasantly surprised by the line-up.

One of the most successful matches, apparently, was the ballotine of turkey with the red Fronton – a 2009 Château Montauriol.

The other most popular matches seemed to be:

Smoked salmon – Marks & Spencer’s, Vignobles de Gascogne, Saint Mont, 2011

Basque pâté – Domaine de Pellehaut, Ampélomeryx, Côtes des Gascogne, 2010

Roast beef – Château Boucassé, Vieilles Vignes, Vignobles Brumont, Madiran, 2006

Christmas pudding – Domaine Rotier, Renaissance, Gaillac, 2008 (with an honourable mention for the Domaine d’Escausses, Cuvée des Drilles, 2011).

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