A Priviliged Terroir
The Côtes de Gascogne vineyard is made up of three main types of terroirs, each one corresponding to the historic areas defining the original areas for Armagnacs
Bas-Armagnac : This is the most extensive part of the appellation, on light soils called ‘tawny sands’ sometimes more balanced between the main physical constituents of the soil (sand, silt and clay), described as boulbènes. They are known for giving expressiveness and balance to the whites.
Ténarèze : The geographic heart of the Côtes de Gascogne and occupying a third of the defined area, this sector is predominantly limestone. When this rock extends over an area, the locals call it ‘peyrusquets’ (a shallow clay soil that sits on the limestone bedrock), whilst those with deep clay are known as ‘terreforts’ literally, strong soil. Whatever they are, they favour the development of particularly full reds.
Haut-Armagnac : A vast territory where vines are somewhat rare, this sector is also mainly clay and limestone, giving wines with a character close to those produced in the Ténarèze.
The climate of Gascony results from influences of its geographical horizons that combine to benefit the expressiveness and the balance of the wines. As such, the contribution of oceanic moisture and Mediterranean temperatures driven by an easterly wind, acts on the continental character of the local climate and temperate conditions, without extremes. Additionally, the thermic differences between day and night, notably during the maturation of the grapes, accentuates an aromatic potential that the Gascon winegrowers know how to reveal thanks to their accomplished work.
Worthy heirs of Armagnac, the Côtes de Gascogne winemakers have preserved and adapted a distant tradition of whites in favour of expressions with seductive, light and lively perfumes on the palate. To add to this plan, they usually marry their ancestral grape varieties (Colombard, Gros Manseng, Ugni-Blanc) with other varieties with a larger spread (Sauvignon), or those coming from elsewhere (Chardonnay) and then harvest them at the optimum moment during the cool early mornings. In these conditions, the grapes best preserve the aromatic precursors. Expertly blended and vinified accordingly, they impart their major asset : an olfactory range with a rare intensity that is enchanting with its lively and fruity nature.
This harvesting and development skill extends to the mellow/sweet whites where the constituents demand a longer maturity and consequently a precise sugar content to match their respective classifications. With their versatile nature, Gros and Petit Manseng lend themselves to these late harvests to deliver balanced wines, combining softness and expressiveness.
In their profession, our winemakers are not content with simply a technical experience and demonstrate intuition and discernment when it comes to producing reds proportionate to the soils that bear the grapes. In this way, the estates based in the Bas-Armagnac focus on the fruity style and spontaneity of their wines, whilst their peers in the Ténarèze and Haut-Armagnac capitalise on the ambition permitted by the terroirs better suited in this respect..
However, all come together regarding the rosé, whose conception is more consensual and less dependent of the terroir. Most producers produce a style that is fresh and bright owing to their great experience with the whites, the development process being similar from the harvest through to the winemaking.