Gaillac is an appellation in the South West of France
in the Garonne region (south of Cahors and east of Côtes du Frontonnais)
distinguished by its century-long wine heritage and its extraordinary diversity
of wine styles and local wine varieties.
Gaillac, located in the northeast of Toulouse between the Garonne, Tarn and
Massif Central, claims to be the third oldest French viticultural area after
those of Languedoc and
Archaeological evidence suggests that its vineyards were established back in
the Roman times, and its wines became much sought after both locally and in
Northern Europe (esp. England) in Middle Ages.
However, Gaillacs trade suffered a sharp decline when the merchants of
Bordeaux imposed prohibitively expensive tariffs to wines exported from the
South West of France, upstream of Bordeaux on the rivers Tarn and Garrone.
The destruction brought by the arrival of the phylloxera louse towards the end
of the 19th century was a major blow to the local wine industry, and for much
of the 20th century Gaillac wines have been languishing in obscurity.
Gaillac has experienced a new leash of life since the early 1990s thanks to
outside investment and the work of local, aspiring growers.
The diversity of wines is astounding, from aromatic, dry whites,
light roses and rustic reds to rich sweet and fruity sparkling. The
dominant local varieties for the whites are the low-acidity, fleshy and
heady aromatic Len de l'el (corner of the eye) complemented by
Mauzac (Limouxs signature grape, distinguished by vivid acidity and
pungent aromas of apple peel) as well as Muscadelle, Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc. Sweet wines typically have a
flavour of ripe peach and use the same grape varieties as the dry white wines
with the addition of the indigenous Ondenc.
The red wines are robust, deeply-coloured, perfumed, with intense
spice and fruit flavours. The blend is made up from the mandatory varieties
Duras, Braucol (aka Fer Servadou that contributes fleshy texture,
saturated colour and aromas of cassis and pepper) with the frequent addition of
Sauvignon, Merlot and especially, Syrah.