Discovering new old varieties in southwest France with Plaimont

If a highly paid marketing consultant had come to Plaimont a decade ago, they might have given the following advice: give up on these difficult-to-pronounce, unusual grape varieties with their distinctive local flavours. Instead, plant the grape varieties that people know and love – Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. Make fruity, approachable wines. […]

Vignes Préphylloxérique: a Tannat made from ungrafted vines planted in 1871

For the last few days I have been with Plaimont Producteurs in southwest France. They are a sizeable company who source from 5000 hectares of vines and make 38 million bottles of wine each year, from the appellations of Saint Mont, Madiran and Côtes de Gascogne. As well as making lots of good quality, characterful […]

Château Plaisance ‘Alabets’ 2010 Fronton, France

Marc Pénavaye’s Château Plaisance consists of 30 hectares of vines in the Fronton appellation, near Toulouse in southwest France. This is a varietal Negrette, which is such an interesting red grape variety, unique to the region and with records indicating it has been grown here since the sixth century. Marc started farming organically in 2006 […]

A unicorn wine, the Clos Joliette Jurancon

I have just written up a tasting of Jurançon Sec held at The Sampler a while ago. You can read it here.

One of the wines was truly remarkable. It’s what is known as a unicorn wine: people hear of them but they never see them. The Sampler’s Jamie Hutchinson reckons he has all the available […]

A brilliant Fronton for under a tenner

I just love this wine. It’s a red from near Toulouse, and specifically the region of Fronton, where the Negrette grape is king. There’s just so much to love about Fronton wines, with their heady, meaty, floral perfume and relatively light body. But it’s also a wine with edges. In wine, edges are good, I […]

Another cracker from the Southwest of France: Domaine du Merchien JAS

Domaine du Merchien is owned by a Brits David and Sarah Meakin, who moved to the southwest of France (Coteaux de Quercy) to farm and make wine. This wine, JAS, is a blend of one-third each Jurancon Noir, Abouriou and Syrah. Website:

Domaine du Merchien JAS 2008 Vin de Pays du Lot
Deep red/black colour. […]

Hmmm, Marcillac!

I was delighted to find a spattering of new wines from the southwest of France in The Sampler yesterday, when I attended the icon tasting. I bought one – a Marcillac- and drank it last night. It was fabulous. Probably a bit more refined and less edgy than the Domaine du Cros that I’ve raved […]

Marcillac: an affordable wine to fall in love with

Forget points. Forget shopping-list tasting notes. Forget wine tasting as a ‘competition’ to see which wine is best.

The endorsement I will give this wine is that I love it. Each vintage I have tried has had the same personality. It’s the personality of a particular grape variety grown in particular soils.

It’s bloody, ferrous, meaty and […]