Fed up with your regular tipples of sauvignon blanc and chardonnay? Then why not head to South West France to discover hidden gems.
This huge region stretches from east of the Lot valley in central France right down to the Pyrenees in the far south-west, and has a wealth of wine styles.
We have picked 12 of our current favourites.
Côtes de Gascogne: Pujalet Sec Pays De Gers 2014
A very light, lemony blend of Gascony’s stalwart white grapes, colombard and ugni blanc, this is an ideal and inexpensive dry white to quaff, and a fine example of what the region has to offer. Best served as an aperitif.
Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh: Pacherenc du Vic Bilh 2014
Winemaker Didier Barre uses gros manseng, courbu and petit manseng from old vines, partly oaked to create what is a wonderfully full, rich, appley dry white with punchy vibrant acidity.
£13.99, Caves de Pyrene, www.lescaves.co.uk
Jurançon: Cuvée Marie Jurançon Sec 2013 Charles Hours - STAR BUY
White dry, taut, pure and intense with vivid acidity, this Jurançon is made from the local manseng grape by winemaker Charles Hours. It is deliciously juicy and peachy with a tangy freshness.
£17.95, Swig, www.swig.co.uk
St Mont: St Mont Blanc 2014
A dry unoaked white with a difference. You don’t get the whistle sharp purity of Jurancon, but you do get a lovely floral, citric taste. Serve with rich textured seafood.
£8, Marks & Spencer
Gascony: Les Coquelicots Rosé 2014 Domaine St Lannes
The only rosé in our tasting – this got the thumbs up. It’s a light, fruity, easy quaffing wine – with candied red fruits. Serve with a summer salad.
£8.49 members or £11.49 non- members, Rude wines, www.rudewines.co.uk
Madiran: Madiran Terres De Moraines 2012 - STAR BUY
Madiran weighs in as the tough, powerful body builder amongst south-west French reds. Based on the tannat grape with cabernet sauvignon in this blend, the modern Madirans are dark fruited and spicy. Match with spicy sausage.
£9, Marks & Spencer
Cahors: Cahors Rouge, Le Gamotin 2012 Clos de Gamot
If you love the malbec grape, head to Cahors on the Lot river. This malbec is lighter and more minerally than you find in Argentine malbecs, but has the same damson fruits, black pepper and liquorice undertones with firm grippy tannins.
£12.99, Raeburn Fine Wines, Edinburgh
Côtes du Frontonnais: Fronton, Cuvée Don Quichote 2012 Domaine Le Roc
Fronton is made from the little known negrette (black) grape grown on gravelly river terraces, with additional syrah in the blend. It is deep coloured with violet perfume, fresh acidity, juicy, chunky fruits and coffee undertones.
£17.45, Berry Bros & Rudd, www.bbr.com
Marcillac: Marcillac Lo Sang Del Pais 2014 Domaine du Cros
Grapes grown on iron rich red clay south-east of the Lot river make deliciously meaty, herby reds with really juicy fruits and earthy undertones. This Marcillac was very popular with our tasters and a great bargain.
£7.95, The Wine Society, www.thewinesociety.com
Marcillac: Marcillac, Cuvée Lairis 2012 Jean Luc Martha
If you like your red wines with juicy, feral flavours – and plenty of character – try this Marcillac. Originally made to refresh the local miners, Marcillacs now sell mainly to local tourists. This goes well with spicy food.
£12.99, Les Caves de Pyrene, www.lescaves.co.uk
Jurançon: Jurançon La Magendia 2012 Domaine Lapeyre
This deliciously gentle petit manseng-based dessert wine is made by the wine “poet” Jean Bernard Larrieu. No wonder “La Magendia” in Occitan means “the best”.
£12.99 hf bt, Les Caves de Pyrene, www.lescaves.co.uk; £14.99, Selfridges; www.smilinggrape.com
Pyrenees-Atlantique: Cabidos Cuvée Comte Clement Doux 2012 Chateau de Cabidos - STAR BUY
This enchanting sweet wine is made from the petit manseng grape by the ancient “passerillage” method, where stems are twisted while grapes are still on the vine, concentrating sweetness. n
£8.95 for 50 cl bt, The Wine Society, www.thewinesociety.com; Daniel Lambert Wines, www.daniellambertwines.co.uk; L’Art du Vin,Dunfermline
• Join Rose’s South West France Wine & Charcuterie Masterclass at Abode Hotel, Bath Street, Glasgow, on Thursday 26 May, £40, www.rosemurraybrown.com