Gaillac wine region of the southwest of France – they call it here “the other southwest” – is surely less famous as its not so distant cousin the Bordeaux region. The region situated around the historic town of Gaillac, between Albi and Toulouse, was the first vine growing area of France to obtain in 1938 the so called “Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée”, which translates as “controlled designation of origin”, a certification that guarantees the authenticity and quality of its wines.
Besides the grape varieties (“cépages”) that grow as well in other regions – Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Gamay, Mauzac, Muscadelle, Ondec, Braucol, and Syrah – Gaillac region has also its uniquely local varieties like “Loin de l’oeil”, one of the oldest of France, “Duras”, whose name comes from the firmness (“dureté”) of grape berry and Prunelart, considered as the “father” of the Malbec variety.
The vine has been grown in Gaillac since Gallo-Roman times some 2,400 years ago. But there were the monks of the Benedictin Abbaye of Saint Michel that were the first, in the 10th century AD, to introduce vine growing and wine making “standards” needed for the preservation of the region’s wine fame. Some of the rules brought in by the monks were the interdiction to mix the Gaillac wine with foreign wines, vine trimming regulations, the so called “ban des vendanges” or the official announcement of the berry picking season start and the obligation to smoke the vine with pigeon dejections used as natural pesticide (this in turn brought about the construction of many “pigeonniers” – stone built dovecotes that can be still seen today).
In the 12th and 13th centuries the wine of Gaillac were exported to England and Low Countries via the Tarn and Garonne Rivers that were bringing the wine barrels to the port of Bordeaux.
In the same way as the Bordeaux region, Gaillac wine “chateaux” and domains can be visited independently following the “circuit du vignoble Gaillacoise” signs or via the endless offer of tours organized by Maison des Vins de Gaillac.
Each year the town of Gaillac organizes in the beginning of August the “Fête des Vins”.
Below are some images from the 2016, 38th edition that took place last weekend and brought together, in the Foucaud Park of Gaillac, 52 wine producers of the region and hundreds of wine lovers (children were served with grape juice!).
Hi, I am Carla. I am living and working in the beautiful city of Toulouse, France.
I like history, travel and... the southwest of France and try to share through this blog information about events that might be of interest to the travelers to this part of the world!