Hall Wines Ltd.,
SG8 6DZ United Kingdom.
+44 (0)1763 260899
Fax: +44 (0)1763 261360
The Gaillac vineyard
lies within the Tarn department, which is one of the most attractive areas
The Tarn boasts spectacular river
gorges, densely forested hills, and the wide swathe of gently rolling
country either side of the River Tarn, where the vineyards are situated.
Particular places of interest
include the city of Albi, with its 12th century Cathedral of Saint-Cecile
and the Toulouse Lautrec Museum; the many medieval bastide villages, the
best known of which include Cordes-sur-Ciel and Castelnau-de-Montmiral,
and the historical towns of Gaillac and Castres.
Vines have been cultivated in the
area since Roman times in around 125BC, and by the end of the first
century AD, the Gaillac vineyard was well established.
extensive information about the Gaillac vineyard and the Tarn, can be obtained by clicking on the link
The Grape Varieties
Rather than mimicking the wines of
Bordeaux and other better known regions by planting ubiquitous grape varieties,
the modern day Gaillac producers have wisely decided to maintain the unique
character of their wine, by retaining the area's historical grape varieties as
its principal components.
This policy, together with the
effective use of modern wine-making techniques and strict quality controls, has
resulted in the production of distinctive wines which are becoming increasingly
The traditional varieties used in the
production of the white wines are Mauzac and Len de l'El. Mauzac produces a
characteristic aroma of apples and pears and when used to produce a 100%
varietal wine such as that produced by Robert Plageoles, it can result in a
beautifully soft and deliciously refreshing wine.
Len de l'El, which is
only found in Gaillac, gets its name from a derivation of "loin de l'oeil",
or "far from the eye". The grapes hang from unusually long stalks and
are therefore further away from the eye of the picker than those of other
varieties. It produces subtle wines with a floral or citrus aroma.
The other white grape varieties used in
Gaillac are Sauvignon, Muscadelle, Ondenc and Semillon.
The historical grape varieties used in
the production of the red wines are Duras, Braucal (which is also known as Fer
Servadou, or simply Fer in Gaillac, and as Mansois or Pinenc in other parts of
South-West France) and Syrah. The Duras grape is only found in Gaillac and
produces peppery and spicy aromas and wine of deep colour. The Braucol, or
Fer Servadou, produces full-bodied wines with aromas of raspberry, blackcurrant
and hints of pepper. The Syrah produces fruity wines with a lightly spiced
aroma and soft tannins, and is used in Gaillac to give structure and a toasted
taste redolent of the wine of Southern France.
Gamay is used in the production of
Gaillac Primeur, which regularly wins national awards for the best Primeur or Nouveau wine in France.
|The AOC Wines
Appellation d'Origine Controlee status was
granted to the white wines of Gaillac in 1938, amply justifying the
decision to maintain the regional character of the wines by the retention
of traditional grape varieties. AOC status was extended to cover the
distinctive red wines in 1970.
AOC Gaillac Rouge
The red wines must be made from
set minimum percentages of Duras, Fer Servadou or Syrah. Other varieties (Cabernet Sauvignon,
Cabernet Franc, and Merlot) are used by growers to produce particular
blends. Gamay is also permitted but must be used with minimum
percentages of Duras and Braucol for Gaillac Rouge, but can be the sole
grape variety for Gaillac Primeur. The red wines typically have a deep
colour and a powerful nose, with tones of red fruit and hints of spice.
AOC Gaillac Blanc
The white wines must contain
minimum percentages of Len de l'El or Sauvignon,
or a blend of the two. Other permitted grape varieties are Mauzac,
Mauzac Rose, Muscadelle, Ondenc and Semillon. Typically pale yellow
with hints of green, Gaillac blanc has a delicate bouquet with notes of
ripe apples, pear and sometimes honey.
AOC Gaillac Rose
The wine varieties used in the production of Gaillac rose are the same
as for the red wines. The roses are typically light, fresh,
easy-drinking dry wines.
AOC Gaillac Perle
This is a slightly sparkling or "petillant" white wine which
retains very fine bubbles or pearls from the second fermentation of the
winemaking process, producing a delicious tingle on the tongue. The
sparkle maintains the fresh, clean style of the wine and enhances the
natural aromas of the Len de l'El and Mauzac grapes.
AOC Gaillac Primeur
Under the AOC rules, the Primeur may be sold from the third Thursday of
November following the harvest. Made from the Gamay grape, it is a
wonderfully fruity, easy to drink young wine.
AOC Gaillac Doux
These naturally sweet wines must contain a minimum
residual sugar per litre. The permitted grape varieties are as for
the dry white wines. They exhibit a range of sweetness and typically
have a flavour of ripe peach, although the different growers produce
markedly personal styles of sweet wines.
AOC Mousseux Methode Gaillacacoise
These sparkling wines are made by the "Methode Gaillacoise",
which is also used in Limoux where it is known as "Methode Rurale".
This technique involves a single fermentation, without any additional
sugar being introduced. The fermentation is stopped by a series of
rackings and the wine is bottled before all of the sugar is converted into
alcohol. The residual sweetness, therefore, comes entirely from the grapes. After several
months, the residual natural sugar starts to re-ferment and this produces
the sparkle or bubbles. The wine can be brut or demi-sec.
This process requires great skill to achieve and is more difficult than
the Methode Champenoise, which can involve the addition of extra sugar to
produce the bubbles. The Gaillac process produces a wine of great
We can also recommend Paul Strangs excellent book "Wines of
South-West France" which contains authoritative chapters on the
various wine regions including Gaillac, and also including the fascinating
history of the wines. This book is available through Toad Hall
Wines, email us for further