Chateau La Caminade

Dominique Ressès

The vineyards of Cahors lay an equal distance from the Atlantic Ocean, the Mediterranean and the Pyrenees. They are planted along the banks and hills of the Lot River valley. As a result of its millennia of work carving through a limestone plateau, the Lot River left a narrow band of hills ideally suited to the vine. The soils vary according to their proximity to the river, with the lower terraces having more alluvial deposits and the upper vineyards having more exposed rock. The vineyards date back at least two thousand years and the wines of Cahors have an illustrious history that includes being sought after by the Roman Emperor Domitian, the Russian Orthodox Church and numerous kings and bishops.

The Chateau La Caminade vineyards lie in Parnac, in the heart of the Cahors region. The Ressès family has been making wine here since 1895 and Dominique and Richard represent the fourth generation. The 27 hectares of vineyards are planted on a variety of soil types including gravelly sand and clay/limestone. The vineyards are certified “Haute valeure Environmentale” Level 3 which requires a comprehensive sustainability. Until the French Revolution the domain belonged to the clergy who left behind much documentation attesting to both their winemaking techniques and their understanding of the terroir. The Ressès bring forward quite a tradition.

Read Dominique’s comments in the Southwest Vintage Reports

Mission La Caminade

This cuvée is typically a blend of 85% Auxerrois (Malbec) and 15% Merlot. It is produced from parcels on the “second and third terraces” with the classic Cahors mix of erosional and alluvial soils. Throughout the growing season green harvesting and leaf thinning are practiced to insure low yields and healthy grapes. The harvest is triaged before entering the vat house and the varieties are vinified separately in stainless steel tanks with macerations of 12 to 15 days. The wine is blended and then it is matured in cement vats for up to 18 months before bottling. The style is one of suppleness and charm and the wine does not require further cellaring.

La Commandery

This wine comes from the best parcels in the La Caminade vineyard. Typically, they are parcels of old vines growing on the “third terrace”, but the final selection is made after the fermentations have occurred. For this cuvée, the Ressès try to use exclusively Auxerrois (Malbec) although sometimes a small amount of Tannat is blended for complexity. The harvest is triaged before entering the vat house and fermentations are done in temperature controlled stainless steel vats. Maceration is extended to five weeks. M. Ressès has devised a system that allows for very gentle pumping of the juice over the cap. The wine is aged in oak barrels, typically one fourth new, for one year. The result is a deep and concentrated wine that typifies the Quercy region.




13 French Winemakers Presenting their Wines at a Dinner at Buck’s Fishing and Camping in Washington DC, USA

Picture: Christian G.E. Schiller with Husband and Wife Team M. Jean Francois Meynard and Christelle Gauthier from Chateau La Bouree, Cotes de Castillon, Bordeaux

This was a very exciting winemaker dinner: With 13 visiting winemakers from all around France. It took place a Buck’s Fishing and Camping in the Chevy Chase area in Washington DC. The winemakers were in town for the annual portfolio tasting of Wine Traditions, an importer of French wines.

Ed and Barbara Addiss’ Wine Traditions

Wine Traditions: Created in 1996 by Edward Addiss and Barbara Selig, the philosophy of Wine Traditions is to discover independent winemakers whose passion for their vineyard and mastery of their winemaking craft combine to create a product that is a beautiful expression of the land from which it comes. They believe their portfolio demonstrates that wonderful wines can be found beyond well-known appellations and need not be overpriced. For them, wine is meant to be enjoyed with dinner, every day and at prices that make it an appropriate component of the meal.

Pictures: Christian G.E. Schiller and Barbara Assiss, and Ed Assiss, Owners of Wine Traditions

Buck’s Fishing and Camping

Tom Sietsema, Washington Post: This arty and eclectic restaurant serves classic food made with the best ingredients. There are few local kitchens that do its familiar dishes better than Buck’s.

The 4 expertly prepared courses of American cuisine from Chef James Rexroad were indeed excellent.

Picture: Buck's Fishing and Camping on 5031 Connecticut Avenue, Washington DC

Owner James Alefantis, who told us that he also owns a restaurant in Berlin, Germany, is charming and welcoming as is his restaurant: We are a small, neighborhood independently owned Fish Camp of a restaurant, where a woody, fire lit atmosphere is a great place to enjoy the best local produce, meats and fish.

Pictures: Annette Schiller, Ombiasy PR and WineTours, Christian G.E. Schiller and Owner James Alefantis

See: 3 Wine Tours by ombiasy Coming up in 2014: Germany-North, Germany-South and Bordeaux

Winemaker Dinner with 13 Producers from France

At this totally unique event, after a Champagne and oyster welcome, the 13 French winemakers were on hand to present their wines. We had the opportunity to select one of three wines with each of the 4-courses to pair side-by-side with Buck's beautiful menu.

Pictures: The Dinner


Oysters on the 1/2 Shell, Warm Gougeres, and Selection of Saucisson

Bourdaire-Gallois, Brut Champagne NV

First Course

House Applewood Smoked Salmon with its Roe

3 Wines and 3 Winemakers

Pictures: Brigitte Ardurats, Felix Debavelaere and Katia Mauroy-Gauliez, and their Wines

Chateau Magneau, Graves Blanc 2012

Brigitte and Jean-Louis Ardurats: Winemakers/ Owners of Chateau Magneau, a beautiful Graves producer in the south of Bordeaux. The Graves region is often referred to as 'the cradle of Bordeaux wine' and has been described as a beauty asleep in her woods and forests. We were delighted to taste their Graves Rouge.

Picture: Christian G.E. Schiller and Brigitte and Jean-Louis Ardurats, Winemakers/ Owners of Chateau Magneau

Domaine de Bel Air Pouilly-Fume 2012

Owner/ Winemaker Katia Mauroy-Gauliez from Domaine de Bel Air hails from the Loire Valley where the Sauvignon Blanc grape thrives. Katia Mauroy-Gauliez and her brother Cedric Mauroy are the ninth generation to manage Domaine de Bel Air. Their 15 acres of vineyards straddle the towns of Pouilly-sur-Loire and Saint Andelain. Pouilly-Fume is one of the Loire Valley’s most famous wines – a quintessential expression of flinty, vivacious Sauvignon Blanc.

Domaine Rois Mages "Les Cailloux" Rully Rouge 2011

Anne-Sophie Debavelaere, a native Burgundian, began her Domaine in 1984. 5 years ago, her son, Felix Debavelaere, who was sitting next to me at the dinner, took over. He now farms 11 hectares of vines which are mostly in Rully, but include small parcels in Bouzeron and Beaune. The vineyards are all worked with respect for the land in a fashion known as "lutte raisonnée". The winery or "cave de vinification" is a vaulted cellar which was dug from the Rully hillside in 1850. It was originally built by a local negociant who wanted to have a cellar for sparkling wine similar to those in Champagne.

Picture: Christian G.E. Schiller and Felix Debavelaere

Second Course

Wild Local Mushrooms with Tagliatelle Pasta and Herbs

3 Wines and 3 Winemakers

Pictures: Samuelle Delol, Elisabeth Billard, Michel Champseix with Ed Addiss

Domaine Billard Hautes Cotes de Beaune Blanc 2012

Winemaker Elisabeth and Jerome Billard, Domaine Billard have 12.5 hectares of vineyards in different appellations throughout the Cotes de Beaune. Their largest holdings are in the Hautes Cotes de Beaune with other small plots located in Saint Romain, Saint Aubin 1er Cru, Auxey Duresses and Beaune.

Chateau Vieux Chevrol Lalande de Pomerol 2009

The Champseix family has made wine at Château Vieux Chevrol for many generations and continues to do so in a traditional manner. Jean-Pierre Champseix runs the estate today (20 hectares), aided by his son Michel. He has a profound respect and veneration for his land, a relationship that truly guides his work. The vineyard lies on the Neac plateau overlooking the vineyards of Pomerol. The soil is clay mixed with gravel and iron-rich sandstone known locally as "crasse de fer". The vineyard is planted to 80% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon.

Picture: Jean-Pierre Champseix, Château Vieux Chevrol, Lalonde de Pomerol, and Christian G. E. Schiller

Chateau Gueyrosse Saint Emilion 2003

Winemaker Samuelle Delol, owns two estates Chateau Bel Air and Chateau Gueyrosse in St. Emilion. Chateau Gueyrosse dates from around 1750 and the Delol family obtained the property in 1850. Samuelle, who has recently taken over from her father, is the sixth generation to make wine at Gueyrosse. The vineyard is in the southwestern corner of Saint Emilion, on the outskirts of Libourne and has a soil of "graves rouge", a soil type similar to that found in the southern corner of Pomerol.

Third Course

Magret Duck Steaks with a Frisee Salad of Duck Cracklins and Farm Poached Egg

3 Wines and 3 Winemakers

Pictures: Ed Addiss, Dominique Ressès, Christelle Gauthier and Catherine Roque, and their Wines

Chateau La Bourree Cotes de Castillon 2011

The husband and wife team M. Jean Francois Meynard and Christelle Gauthier, who were sitting next to me at the dinner, own 4 chateaux with a total vineyard area of 40 hectares. Chateau La Bouree extends over 10 hectares. The vineyard is planted with 75% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Cabernet Franc and Malbec. The yields are kept to 45h/hl by green harvesting and leaves are pulled as needed to insure proper ripening. Fermentation on the skins lasts for three weeks after which the wine is aged in used barrels for a year

Picture: Annette Schiller, Ombiasy PR and WineTours and the husband and Wife Team M. Jean Francois Meynard and Christelle Gauthier, Bordeaux

Chateau La Caminade Commandery Cahors 2009

Dominique Ressès: The Chateau La Caminade vineyards (34 hectares) lie in Parnac, in the heart of the Cahors region. The vineyard covers a variety of soil types including gravelly sand and clay/limestone. The Ressès family has been making wine here for four generations.

One of my early posting were about Dominique Ressès and his beautiful wines: The Wines of Chateau La Caminade in the Cahors, France - Malbec from its Birthplace

Picture: Christian G.E. Schiller and Dominique Ressès, Cahor

Mas D'Alezon Presbytere Faugeres 2012

Catherine Roque, Languedoc, is owner and winemaker of Mas d'Alezon and Domaine du Clovallon. Catherine says that seeing the results of bio-dynamic farming practices has greatly inspired her. Both of her estates are in Languedoc.

Fourth Course

A Selection of 3 Regional Cheeses

3 Wines and 3 Winemakers

Pictures: Julien Teulier, Laurent Charrier, Jean-Marc Grussaute and Ed Assiss, and their Wines

Camin Larredya La Part Davan Jurancon Sec 2012

Jean-Marc Grussaute: The Grussautes have a small but remarkable vineyard (9 hectares) situated in the Chapelle de Rousse area of Jurançon. The word "Camin" used instead of Domaine is the local dialect for chemin or road.

The majority of the vineyard, planted by Jean-Marc’s father 40 years ago, is terraced and lies on steep and curved slopes that form an amphitheater. The vineyard is planted to 60% Petit Manseng and 37% Gros Manseng and 3% Petit Courbu. Jean-Marc Grussaute began estate bottling in 1988. He has farmed organically since 2007 with the first certified vintage being 2010. Jean-Marc names his wines after the vineyard parcels from which they come.

The Jurançon Sec which is called La Part Davan, blends two thirds Gros Manseng with Petit Manseng and a small quantity of Petit Courbu.. The wine undergoes a "maceration pellicullaire" before fermentation in stainless steel tanks and foudres. The wine then is kept "sur lie" for at least six months.

Picture: Jean-Marc Grussaute and Christian G.E. Schiller

Domaine du Pas Saint Martin Jurassique Saumur Blanc 2011

Domaine du Pas Saint Martin is set among troglodyte caves formed out of ancient fossilized marine life that covered the Saumur region 10 million years ago. During the Middle Ages these caves served the Protestants as secret places of worship.

Laurent Charrier and his mother run the domaine which is a certified organic farm. Laurent’s father was not interested in producing wine and thus in 1994 when Laurent took over the responsibility of the domaine, he picked up where his grandfather had left off. He immediately set out to acquire certification for organic farming which he received in 1997. The family vineyards are a bit spread out with small holdings in Anjou and Coteaux du Layon in addition to their primary vineyard in Saumur. The average age of the vines is 25 years with a good part being older than 35 years. Vinification is carried out in temperature controlled stainless steel vats.

Domaine du Cros Lo Sang del Pais Marcillac 2012

Winemaker Julien Teulier: Deliciously fruity red wine from Marcillac, first used to quench the thirst of pilgrims on their way to the shrine of Santiago di Compostella, and then miners from nearby coalfields. Made from the local fer servadou grape from a vineyard that was saved from extinction by a handful of dedicated growers in Southwest France.

Picture: Christian G.E. Schiller and Julien Teulier


Tanis Bark and Fresh Ginger Wafers

Every year about this time we ask our winemakers to send us reports on the current vintage : events over the growing season, harvest conditions, what's happening in the winery during these early stages. It takes a while for all reports to roll in, which we will eventually compile and publish on our Vintage Reports page. Meanwhile we've received enough responses from all over France, from Champagne, Loire, Southwest, Rhone, Bordeaux, Burgundy, post a preview of Vintage 2019.

Having heard from wine makers in different regions of France, weather conditions in 2019 were almost uniform, north to south, east to west, having to do with similar climatic irregularities during the growing season. All inconsistant with historic norms. Warm winter and early spring, leading to early bud set, only to be beset by frosts in April and delayed flowering, then heatwaves and drought in summer, somehow miraculous comebacks with needed rains at the end of the growing season, and clement harvesting weather. In general there was a loss of yields but high quality fruit. Climate changes are tangible and posing serious challenges to wine growers who are now needing to anticipate how to adapt their wine growing methods to deal with an erratic and quickly changing growing environment.

Notes from our winemakers :


Domaine d’Elise, Chablis, Frédérique Prain

The year 2019 = a hot and dry year
Alas, we had a bit of hail at the beginning of April and again in late April.
The hail beginning of May at which time buds were between 1 and 12 cm.
With this persistant cold budding was slow, taking through the end of May.
The vines were in full flower around June 17th
Which put the predicted harvest date at September 25th;Then the heatwave came!
Very hot at the end of June: 38°C, beautiful all of the beginning of July and at the end of July, record hot temperatures in Chablis : 42.6°C on the 25th of July.
End of August it was still very hot, and above all dry.
So the harvests began in the region the beginning of September, around the 10th in Chablis, on the 17th at Domaine d’ELISE!
The quality is excellent but its necessary to take note that there a lot of underdeveloped berries that were slightly dried out, and some even burned by the sun.
The yields are only 40HL/HA instead of the usual 60.
The degrees vary between 12.5 and 13.5, which is very high for Chablis and Petit Chablis.
However the acidities are correct, allowing for making characteristic Chablis.
They will be for medium term keeping.
The juice is already tasting very well : its round and fruited, very agreeable on the palate.
Since the year 2000 we've experienced many good years, despite climactic warming.
Often with excessive ripeness comes a decline in acidity, which is not suitable for Chablis.
Happily, le Domaine d’Elise always has good acidity because of its rocky, very calcareous soil.


Domaine des 13 Lunes, Savoie, Sylvain Liotard

The 2019 vintage was the vintage of confirmation for me (my third year), in spite of being a growing season of all possible climactic hazards.

We had frost, hail, violent winds and 3 months of drought.

I was anxious about protecting the grapes.

In the end, the losses were not too bad, (15 to 20%).

The acidities are for the monent high, a real mountain wine.

The maturities were very good but heterogeneous, resulting in quite a bit of millérandage (mixed sized berries and partial crop failure).

The fermentations are quite variable, according to different parcels. Those that got hail are taking more time.

I really like these wines to come, I think that they will have great personality.

I just finished (end October) putting the wines in tank or in barrel to finish fermentations and for maturing.

Autumn work begins, earthing-up the vines, treating of the soils, replacing certain vines and a bit of commerce.


Domaine du Crêt de Bine, Sarcey, Florence Subrin

2019, a crop of excellent quality but a small crop as a result of climactic hazards. The 2019 vintange for us will have been remembered by the successive late frosts in the month of April, as well as the hailstorm on the 18th of August. With the very warm start of the growing season, vegetation started early, then suffered the climactic "rewind" of a sudden drop in temperatures in April. Follwed then by a lovely spring and a hot summer, which was favorable to good ripeness of fruit. Unfortunately, the quantity was affected by a violent hail storm in August. Nevertheless, this small yielding season, makes up for itself in quality. Indeed, with such beautiful fruit, very balanced with delicate aromas, we are able to vinify wines that reflect that beauty the of fruit. Entirely hand harvested over 9 days, our 2019 cuvées are showing a rare finesse with beatiful bright "cherry" color, all with no added sulfur other than a minimal dose at bottling to protect them during transport. Beautiful "Natural" cuvées, are equally "Beaujolais" ; they will be released in the Spring 2020.


Chateau La Caminade, Cahors, Dominique Ressès

Here is my first impression of the 2019 millésime.

We’ll say that the vintage, started a bit poorly with a spring frost (May 6th), but finished well, though with a reduced quantity, but superior quality than we estimated.

In addition, a beautiful, hot and dry summer provided conditions for the vines to catch up on the delay caused by the Spring frosts.

Finally, some rains at the end of August and beginning September, followed by nice weather, hot during the day, cool at night, during the whole rest of September, made for a lovely and homogeneous ripening of the fruit.

We started harvesting the 3rd of October and finished the 9th, days were cloudy and cool.

Today we can say that this vintage will be easy to drink, gourmand, with low acidities and high pH (already 3.6/3.7 before malolactic!!!)


Domaine Christophe Thorigny, Vouvray

The harvests went very well.

The crop is correct with a good quality in spite of the difficult climactic conditions of the year : 20% of vines affected by frost in the spring, heatwaves and drought this summer.

Domaine Verdier-Logel, Côtes de Forez, Julie Logel

The year 2019, once again, translates as an exceptional year, in the sense that the climate has upset the usual growth patterns of the vine and challenged the wine grower. Frosts during Spring and little rain caused a delayed development of the vines, which only started coming into a phase of fruit maturity at the end of August, which meant the winegrowers had to roll up their sleeves after traditional summer vacations. In the end, the harvest was quite satisfactory concerning quality. Vinification is just now finished, the wines are starting the maturing process and are already displaying a 2019 vintage that is less powerful than 2018, but more typical of the wines of the Forez and express the granite and basalt terroirs of the region.


Champagne Perseval-Farge, Montagne de Reims, Isabelle Perseval

Each new vintage is an occasion to write a new page in history and above all to understand new winegrowing conditions in the changing climate.

The 2019 winegrowing season was once again quite singular : the erratic climactic cycles meant we had to organize ourselves around spring frosts, sudden unusual cold temperatures at budding and then heat waves during the summer. These changes in weather are recent and their consequences are unknown ; with little hindsight, an evolution is in progress. Each year we have to review the new imprint and rethink our production strategy.

The musts are very aromatic, and stimulate the palate. They have fruit, balance, concentration with a touch of liveliness, everything is there.

The fragrances emanating in the winery are so pleasant, we can’t wait to taste the first wines. Nature has given us the best, now it is up to us to magnify the fruit of our labor.

The Chardonnay has quite particular aromas : complexity, fruitiness, while the Pinot Noir and Meunier are powerful and elegant.

The 3 forgotten varieties (Arbanne, Petit Meslier and Fromentot) are very expressive. Their specific aromatic profiles are complementary : they combine freshness, balance, generosity and finesse. The production of the Cuvée Les Goulats remains very limited [1,000 bottles approximately / year]

In the end, the cuvées will be a reflection of the winemaker, his passion and his emotion. To that add patience to discover an acomplished wine…..

Now it is time that everyone takes ownership of their own Terroir and takes responsibilty and makes decisions to maintain productive vineyards, and bring the quality of production to the highest level. It is our credo and we consistantly pursue this objective. On this note, we have the pleasure to announce that Henry, our second son, has taken his place at the winery and that he has come to observe and assimilate Benoist’s savoir-faire after his wine-growing/making studies in Alsace and 2 years of profesional experience outside of our domaine.


Chateaux Barraillots, Margaux, Yannick Martin

The 2019 harvests took place in very good weather with grapes in very sanitary condition.

It was sunny the entire harvest from September 26 through October 10th.

The grapes were healthy and well ripened.

Vinifications are almost complete, this week (end October) we finish the juice runs and pressings.

The malolactics are also almost finished.

In brief, a lovely crop, very good quality and good yields.


Domaine de Berane, Côtes de Ventoux, Bertrand Ferary

We had quite a few suprises in 2019.

We grow Syrah, Grenache and Mourvedre. And for 19 years we have been harvesting them in that chronological order. For the first time Grenache matured before the Syrah. Incredible! In addition, maturities were blocked.

One of the causes is that we had the hottest summer in Provence since 2003. The grape skins were very thick, natures reaction to protect the pulp from dehydration, preserving its own production. We did reach normal quantites, with wonderful deep color, with higher degrees than usual.

We are performing many "déléstages" (multiple rackings of juice during fermentation and maceration, a process that aerates the juice and softens it by lessening time spent in contact with skins). And, hard to believe, for the first time, our Syrah and Mourvedre tanks have still not finished fermenting in early November. We expect they will have finished in a week. With this careful vinification, 2019 should be an excellent vintage.
Finewine facebook
February 17th, 2014

New Happenings Coming Up at!!!
Dinner with 13 French Winemakers & Aussie Wine Class!!!

We've been asked many times to do more wine dinners so we're delighted to parnter with Buck's Fishing & Camping and Wine Traditions Importers for an epic evening of great food and wine. We will welcome 13 visiting French winemakers who will ALL be at the dinner to share annidotes and stories about their great domaines and wines. We've also got a fantastic "Outback Adventure" with a wine class on New Zealand and Australian wines!

Bucks Logo
French Winemaker Dinner at
Bucks Fishing & Camping

Featuring 13 Winemakers and Your Choice of Wine for Each Course
Sunday March 2nd at 6:30pm - $99
(Tax and Gratuity included)

We've planned a thrilling wine dinner with 13 visiting winemakers from all around France at one of DC's hottest and upcoming restaurants! "This arty and eclectic restaurant serves classic food made with the best ingredients." says The Washington Post

This wine dinner will feature four expertly prepared courses of American cuisine from Chef James Rexroad. At this totally unique event, after a Champagne and oyster welcome, 13 French winemakers will be on hand to present their distinctive and delicious wines. You will have the opportunity to select one of three wines with each of your 4-courses to pair side-by-side with Buck's beautiful menu.

At Bucks Fishing & Camping you will taste the real deal , Washington Post Food critic, Tom Sietsema says "there are few local kitchens that do its familiar dishes better than Bucks," "the kitchen distinguishes itself is so many small ways" full of localy sourced foods; these flavor are simple and excellent. Owner James Alefantis, is charming and welcoming as is his restaurant. We will have full run of the place as they are closing their doors to all other diners on Sunday night! This is the perfect venue for great wine, wonderful food and friends! Join the team and dine with us!

Menu ~ Buck's Fishing & Camping
13 French Winemakers with chef James Rexroad
& Wine Traditions Ed and Barbara Addiss
Oysters on the 1/2 Shell, Warm Gougeres, & Selection of Saucisson.
Bourdaire-Gallois, Brut Champagne NV

first course
House Applewood Smoked Salmon with it's Roe.
choose one; Chateau Magneau, Graves Blanc 2012, Domaine de Bel Air Pouilly-Fume 2012 or Domaine Rois Mages "Les Cailloux" Rully Rouge 2011

second course
Wild Local Mushrooms with Tagliatelle Pasta & Herbs
choose one; Domaine Billard Hautes Cotes de Beaune Blanc 2012, Chateau Vieux Chevrol Lalande de Pomerol 2009 or Chateau Gueyrosse Saint Emilion 2003

third course
Magret Duck Steaks with a Frisee Salad of Duck Cracklins & Farm Poached Egg
choose one; Chateau La Bourree Cotes de Castillon 2011, Chateau La Caminade Commandery Cahors 2009 or Mas D'Alezon Presbytere Faugeres 2012

fourth course
A Selection of Three Regional Cheeses
choose one; Camin Larredya La Part Davan Jurancon Sec 2012, Domaine du Pas Saint Martin Jurassique Saumur Blanc 2011 or Domaine du Cros Lo Sang del Pais Marcillac 2012

Tanis Bark & Fresh Ginger Wafers

Buck's Fishing and Camping is located at 5031 Connecticut Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20008 (NW Washington- Next to Politics and Prose - Connecticut and Nebraska). This dinner is a great value as you will be drinking 5 outstanding French wines to compliment each delicious course. Call 301-987-5933 or click on the "sign up" button below. This dinner will sell out VERY quickly, so don't delay. All seats must be reserved and pre-paid in advance through


After a challenging, sometimes suspensful growing season in 2013, things are now quiet in the vines, leaves are mellowing to gold hues and vines are cloaked in autumn mists. Dominique Ressès of Chateau La Caminade in Cahors sends us these photos. Stay tuned for 2013 vintage reports as they come in from our producers.

Region: Southwest

The wine appellations of southwest France are spread throughout ten different “départments”. The Romans called the area Aquitania, “land of waters”, and it has been described as the area of few roads but many rivers. This group of appellations is certainly the most far ranging and diverse to be brought together under one geographical umbrella...

Although the area is spread out, it is given contours by its impressive natural boundaries. The great mountain range known as the Massif Central forms the eastern boundary. This vast range gives rise to the Dordogne, the Lot and the Tarn rivers, which flow westward toward the Atlantic Ocean and have been so crucial to the development of the region’s vineyards. The southern extreme is formed by the Pyrénées, the source of the Garonne River whose northern route passes through Toulouse and Bordeaux. The region is met on its western edge by the Atlantic Ocean.

Within the southwest of France there are many cultural and culinary traditions. Around Toulouse one finds a distinctly southern, “Provençal” influence, while the Pyrénées is home to the Basque culture as well as the Béarnaise. Further north one passes through Gascony on route to Bordeaux and Périgord.

When the French talk about abandoning the charms of nouvelle cuisine for good old country cooking or “cuisine du terroir”, the Southwest is the first “terroir” that springs to mind. Not surprisingly, the wines of southwest France also offer a welcome antidote to “nouvelle” wines and we have chosen to work with vignerons who prefer to refine the quality of their traditional wines rather than abandon them. Many of the appellations in the Southwest have ancient and illustrious histories such as the Gaillac vineyards which date back to the Gauls and were widely planted by the Romans in the first century. In the fourteenth century over half the wine shipped from the port of Bordeaux was from the Cahors region. Reflective of the cultural diversity is the diversity of wine styles and grape varieties grown in the Southwest, many of which are particular to their appellations. Red varieties from the Carmenet family such as Fer Servadou, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc are grown throughout the region as well as Tannat, Malbec and Negrette from the Cotoïdes family. White varieties of the region include Len de l’el, Mauzac, Gros Manseng and Petit Manseng. There is a bucolic quality in this corner of France, a quality which is mirrored in the rich tapestry of terroirs and local grape varieties that produce these most savory, delicious and charming wines.