The best-known appellations of the southwest include Bergerac, Cahors and Madiran, the source for some of France’s best values and many unique wines.
Bergerac, within the larger Dordogne area, makes rustic variations on wines from neighboring Bordeaux: – dry white wines using Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon, and reds blending selections of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Malbec.
Cahors is the French home of Malbec (known locally as the Côt grape). In the rugged terrain of Cahors, Malbec has traditionally produced an inky and concentrated wine, somewhat more austere than the Argentine versions that have popularized the varietal in recent years.
Madiran’s flagship varietal is Tannat, a grape typically so astringent, it practically spells "tannin" all by itself. Traditionally, Tannat wines softened only with long aging. Modern winemakers in Madiran take care to pick the ripest grapes, de-stem them and blend them with other red varietals to produce easier-drinking French wines that can be enjoyed in their youth.