For information on bespoke wine tours contact us for prices and date.
Gaillac is a large and interesting wine appellation in south west France. AOC status was granted for the production of white wines in 1938. The AOC was extended to cover the red wines in 1970.
The white wines are labelled Gaillac Blanc and must comprise of the grape types Len de l'El or Sauvignon Blanc, or a blend of the two. Other permitted grape varieties are Mauzac, Mauzac Rose, Muscadelle, Ondenc and Semillon.
The red wines are labelled Gaillac Rouge and are made from the grape types Duras, Fer Servadou or Syrah. Other permitted varieties include Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Gamay, Braucol and Merlot. Gamay can be the only grape variety for Gaillac Primeur which is a wine made in a similar style to Beaujolais Primeur. An AOC Gaillac Rose can also be produced.
AOC Gaillac Perle is another variation on the Gaillac AOC is a sparkling wine produced in a similar way to Methode Ancestrale wines such as those produced in Bugey or Limoux. Here, this bottle fermented wine does not see the additional of sugar but relies on secondary fermentation in the bottle. Only the Len de l'El and Mauzac grapes are used for this wine.
The first stop on the Gaillac Wine Route is the left bank terraces. This region is defined as the area between Florentin and Couffouleux, going through Tecou, Montans (an archaeological site) and Peyrole.
The area is quite low in altitude and therefore generally a little warmer than the remainder of the Gaillac region. The soil comprises of pebbles, gravels and sands called "boulbenes"(soils of alluvial, sandy and clayey composition). This, some winegrowers would say that this defines the left bank "Graves".
It is an exceptional terroir for the red varieties. Red Gaillac wines are generous, with a beautiful, deep colour, complex aromas where candied fruit, blackcurrant and spices are softly blended. In the mouth, these wines are powerful with a dense body, well structured and with round tannins. Rich, high in character, they can easily be kept 4 to 5 years (or even longer for some vintages).
White Gaillac, less lively than on the right bank, plays with subtlety and finesse. The Len de l'El grape variety expresses its white flower and peach aromas, and Sauvignon the fragrances of grapefruit. In the past few years, winemakers have been growing very complex sweet white wines of very high standard, particularly when produced from Len de l'El.
This second stop takes us to the other side of River Tarn, the right bank. Delimited by the river Vère, this vast zone spreads east to west from Castelnau-de-Lévis, Rabastens, through Labastide-de-Lévis, Gaillac and Lisle-sur-Tarn. The hills of Labastide, Bernac, Sainte-Croix have clayey-calcareous soils and are, quite high in altitude and with later ripening.
The reds made from Duras and Syrah have substance and harmoniously blend their spicy flavour with the wilder scent of Braucol.
The Gaillac Coteaux has clayey-calcareous slopes and sandy or gravelly outcrops. The southern slopes, low in altitude, are often whipped by the hot and dry Autan wind. This, together with plentyful sunshine good vineyard orientation and terroir, produces supple and elegant white wines, long in the mouth, as well as well-structured reds, ample, with a lot of fruit and round tannins.
Lastly, this second halt ends with the hills of Lisle-sur-Tarn and Rabastens, a privileged wine-growing area thanks to the quality of the terroir and the sun-orientated slopes. The reds are robust and warm, with well balanced tannins, while the whites' distinction comes from extremely delicate and nuanced aromas.
The third and final part of this Wine Route, the Plateau Cordais, spreads over the northern part of the Gaillac vineyard. It produces the whole range of Gaillac wines with, owing to its situation, a major proportion of white wines.
There are two fundamental elements which characterize this terroir:
The vines of the Hauts Coteaux du Gaillacois, also known as the Coteaux Blanc de Cordes are planted at an altitude of between 250 and 300 metres. This makes it the latest Gaillac area to be harvested. Here, the grapes are picked 10 to 15 days after those of the first hills, situated along the river Tarn. This altitude, together with a good southern orientation, enables the grapes to benefit from longer sunshine and slower ripening, very beneficial to the finesse and complexity of the grape's various components.
The vines planted on the Coteaux Blancs of the Cordes area develop over clayey-calcareous soils with high content in active limestone. This limestone brings the wines finesse, aromas, fruit and typicity. The combination of climatic factors and terroir makes it possible to produce racy and distinguished wines.
The white wines have harmonious balance. They are rich in floral aromas. They have fruit and freshness. These white wines should be drunk young. The red wines are well balanced, scented, lively, easy-to-drink and can age 4 to 6 years. The roses are aromatic, light and fruity.