Gascony Red Wine

The wines of Gascony in South West France fall into four main categories:  Madiran encompasses the area around the village of Madiran.  These red wines are produced from the tannic and earthy Tannat grape which is sometimes blended with Cabernet Sauvignon or Cabernet Franc to soften it. White wines in the area are labeled Pacherenc du Vic Bilh. Gros and Petit Manseng produce a juicy, spicy wine that is excellent with foie gras.  Jurançon, in the foothills around the town of Pau, produces only white wines; and these are similar to those of Pacherenc du Vic Bilh, but more flowery. Varietals are Courbu, Gros Manseng and Petit Manseng. The wines are generally dry, but sweet if affected by Botrytis cinerea.  Buzet is next to Armagnac. It produces primarily robust, aromatic reds pressed from the grapes of Bordeaux and usually offers excellent value.   The Armagnac region has three appellations, Bas-Armagnac (where the most delicate, fruity brandy comes from), Tenareze and Haut-Armagnac.  First distilled as a medicine in the 13th century, Armagnac, a single-distillate (in contrast to Cognac, which is a double) is the oldest brandy in France. Four varieties of grapes are commonly used: Folle Blanche, Ugni Blanche, Colombard and Baco. When Folle Blanche is used in high percentage and aged for 15 years, it has fine texture and flowering fruit.