Gaillac Old Town and Wine House
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Gaillac is an old city in the department of Tarn.
The city's history stretches over more then 1000 years.
In the 10th century a monastic community settles on the banks of the Tarn River and a town is formed around this community.
The first documented confirmation of the existence of Gaillac dates from 996 AD when the town and its Saint Michel Abbey are mentioned in the last will of Raymond I, Count of Rouergue, Albi and Quercy.
The abbey itself is mentioned for the first time in 972 when it is consecrated by the bishop of Albi. The consecration document mentions also the existence of the Saint Pierre church.
With the development of the religious community of the town comes the expansion of the grape culture in the region, the vine having been brought in these places during the Roman occupation of the South of the France.
During the crusade against the Cathars of the 13th century the town was torn between the loyalty to the Catholic religion of its population and the Cathar sympathy of the town's ruling de Brens family.
During the late Middle Ages and the Renaissance, Gaillac knows a period of development due to its commerce on the port of the Tarn river, its wine and the pastel industry.
The Gaillac wine becomes famous well beyond the territory of France: in 1253 20 barrels of wine are sent to the court of Henry III of England.
During the religious wars of the 16th century the town is spoliated several times in turn by the Catholics and the Huguenots and its churches are destroyed by the Protestant armies. The peace and prosperity returns only after the Edict of Nantes in 1585.
During the 17th and the 18th centuries there were efforts to restore the Gaillac churches but these efforts were cut short by the French revolution - during the revolution the Saint Michel church was used as a warehouse and a saltpeter factory. The churches were only restored in the 19th century.
Gaillac is nowadays the center of one of the most prestigious wine regions of France.
The Gaillac "AOC" - "Appellation d'Origine Contrôlé" introduced in 1938 for the white wines and in 1970 for the reds - covers 2500 hectares spread over 73 towns*.
For their wines the winemakers of the area cultivate beside Sauvignon and Muscadelle several ancient and region-specific grape varieties like:Mauzac, Len de l'el for the white wines and Duras, Braucol for the reds.
The "MAISON DES VINS DE GAILLAC" situated next to the Saint Michel Abbey makes possible the discovery of more then 100 Gaillac wines and offers drop in wine tasting or organized tasting sessions.
Each beginning of August the wineries of Gaillac come together and organize during one weekend the Gaillac Wine Feast"Fête des vins">, a not to be missed opportunity for wine lovers to discover the "other southwest" wines!
The tasting room of the Maison des Vins is open every day from 10am to 12pm and 2pm to 6pm
For tasting session check: http://www.vins-gaillac.com/frm01.html