Local wines of Southwest of France

December 26, 2010
About Wines from Southwest wine regions of France
Best wine supplier in Philippines discusses wine related topics

Local Wine
There are not many people who will come to France without sampling the local wine. While this area is not one that immediately springs to mind as a wine producing area, even in the foot hills of the Pyrenees you can find a local vintage to while away some time on the terrace or accompany a meal with friends and family.
For white wine, Jurançon must be the favourite, while Madiran produces nothing but a robust red which even you doctor may agree is well worth trying! (see right).
Mention this article when booking your stay and there will be a bottle of both waiting for you when you arrive at Mas des Hirondelles!
The vineyard is located in the middle of 3 departements: the Gers, Pyrenées-Atlantiques and the Hautes Pyrenées, north of Tarbes. The area had been producing wine for many centuries before the Benedictine monks in the 11th Century, from their base in the ‘Abbey of Madiran’ lent their skills towards improving the quality of the wine. At the end of the 19th Century phylloxéra obliterated the wine, but then in the middle of the 20th Century a spectacular revival began that saw the vines grow from about 40 hectares to 1500 hectares. Madiran gained its ‘Appellation d’origine controllée’ in 1948.
Madiran is a robust, intensely coloured red wine, whilst Pacherenc du Vic Bilh is a sweet white dessert wine or an aromatic dry white. Madiran in particular, can be of variable quality but we work with Chateau de Fitère in the north of the area, which produces consistently good wine.
Jurançon, south of Pau, is produced in an area of 750 ha around 25 villages including Monein, Gan and Jurançon itself. The area produces over 4.5 million bottles a year, 75% of which is dry white. Grapes used are Gros Manseng, Petit Manseng, Courbu, Camaralet de Lasseube, and Lauzet grapes.
Jurançon acquired its celebrity while being used for the baptism of King Henri IV. The vines grow on steep slopes such as in Hermitage, undergoing both oceanic and mountainous climates. The vine growers use traditional grapes such as Lauzet, Petit and Grand Mansengs and Courbu.
Sweet Jurançon is a golden wine with exotic fruits and honey aromas. It can age for a very long time.
Dry Jurançon has a color drawing towards clear green. The blanc de blanc (white from white) is a fresh and aromatic dry wine. Dry Jurançon accounts for 75 % of the total wine production in Jurançon.

Keeping a Healthy Heart – The Easy Way
In a recent article in The Guardian newspaper, Malcolm Smith recalled the day he went for a medical and was told of the benefits of red wine.
“It’s the moment you dread when you go for a medical – when you’re asked about your alcohol consumption – “, he commented after seeing a cardiologist; “being asked how much you drink.” And he was really surprised by the response:
“You need to drink red wine, not white or rosé. One glass a day isn’t enough; two’s better, preferably three,” came the reply. “It’s very good for your blood vessels.”
Malcom Smith continues:
“Drinking three glasses of red wine daily, much of which contains up to 15% alcohol, is well over the British Heart Foundation’s (BHF) recommended drinking limits. These are based on three to four units of alcohol a day for a man (two to three for a woman) where each unit is 125ml – a small glass – of 8% strength wine. These days, it’s much easier to find a beer at that strength than such a weak wine.
“The health virtues of a Mediterranean-style diet with plenty of fruit and veg, oily fish and olive oil, washed down with red wine, are well known. But is the wine really significant?
“Several studies are summarised in a book called The Wine Diet by Roger Corder, professor of experimental therapeutics at the William Harvey Research Institute in London. He cites, for instance, a Californian study published in 2003. It followed nearly 130,000 people over 20 years and found that those who drank a glass or two a day had a lower death rate from any cause and 60% fewer coronary heart disease deaths.
“The reason is polyphenols, a cocktail of thousands of chemicals that occur naturally in red wine and contribute to its colour, taste and, in some, its harsh astringency. Many are found in the skin and around the pips of red grapes. Some come from wood when the wine is aged in oak barrels. White wine, however, contains no polyphenols. And because the juice for making rosé is separated from the pips and skins before fermentation, it has next to none either. Nor do beer or spirits.
“Most polyphenols aren’t soluble in grape juice (so there’s no benefit to the arteries from drinking it), but as the alcohol concentration increases during wine fermentation, they dissolve into it.
“Unfortunately, not all red wines are equally rich sources of these chemicals. Grape variety, winemaking style, soil type – and perhaps other factors – all make a difference. Corder has analysed many and has found that red wines using Tannat or Malbec grapes usually contain the biggest doses.
“The wine with the highest known polyphenol levels is Madiran – made from Tannat in southwest France – a tough, heavy, inky red bruiser of a wine not often seen outside France. According to Corder, one small glass of it has more polyphenols than two bottles of most Australian reds. Many of the big-brand Aussies, while overly rich in alcohol, are generally poor for polyphenols – though some of their cabernet sauvignon-based wines are better.”
“South-west France stands out as the place to be if you want to live a long life. In spite of a diet rich in saturated fats from foie gras, cassoulet and copious cheeses, parts of this region have double the French average of men aged 90-plus. Corder puts it down to the local red wines, exemplified by the gutsy Madiran.
“No one is yet sure how polyphenols help to protect arteries against disease. Nor how much you need to consume to do so. Corder thinks that they might bind to a surface protein on artery walls and help smooth the flow of blood, a bit like creating a non-stick surface. This helps prevent the build-up of atheroma – the accumulations of blood cell debris, cholesterol, calcium and other substances – which eventually causes constrictions to blood flow and leads to angina and heart attacks.
“So why doesn’t the BHF promote a sensible intake of polyphenol-rich red wine to accompany its advice on eating plenty of fruit and veg, taking exercise and, of course, not smoking? Its website refers to “drinking alcohol in moderation” without mentioning red wine at all. Nor does it have any guidance about polyphenol-rich foods.
“Professor Jeremy Pearson, associate director of the BHF, admits that there is convincing evidence of the virtues of red wine. “Maybe it’s time we revised our policy,” he says. “I think that perhaps we are being too cautious. We’ve always been reluctant to promote alcohol because of the obvious risks of over-drinking, but I think there’s enough evidence now for us to have a re-think”.
“If you are not a drinker, other sources of polyphenols include dark chocolate, walnuts and cranberries. Or as the adage almost goes, an apple a day keeps the cardiologist away.
And that is where we say, where better to sample this marvellous wine than at its source.

Source: http://www.pyreneanvillas.com/wine.php
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