South West: Wine with a strong identity

Bergerac - south west France wines

The vast South West wine region in France is home to many different grape varieties, many of them local ones, which grow on diverse types of terroirs. It covers 54,000 hectares, stretching from Aveyron to Dordogne and the Basque Country. Vines first arrived there when the Romans controlled the area, and today, the region produces red, white, rosé, sweet and sparkling wines as well as grape-based spirits. This rich tapestry of wines means that everyone can find a bottle to suit their preferences, which is exactly what wine enthusiasts did in iDealwine’s 2023 auctions. Let’s take a closer look.

Opportunities abound

South West France is home to some well-known gems. However, its share at iDealwine auctions is, of course, tiny, with 1,791 bottles (when scaled to 750ml) going under the hammer in 2023, representing 0.8% of the auction volume. In terms of value, wine from the South West only accounts for 0.2% of the total auction value and has the lowest average price across all regions. This stands at €38, a highly competitive price that deserves attention from wine enthusiasts.

When looking at the region’s icons, some may be surprised to see a winemaker from … the Loire topping the rankings. Didier Dagueneau’s few hectares in Jurançon go on to create the coveted Jardins de Babylone. The first berries to come off the vines are reserved for an even rarer creation, Ravaillac. Only one bottle appeared in iDealwine’s 2023 auctions and that was from the 2007 vintage. Bought by a Korean enthusiast, its price soared to €313, which was 32% higher than its starting price. 45 bottles (when scaled to 750ml) from this estate went under the hammer on iDealwine in 2023, compared with 65 in 2022. Having said that, its average price increased by 12%, rising to €119.

Jurançon harbours another auction star, a little-known collector’s item called Clos Joliette. This pocket-sized estate of 1.85 hectares, planted with non-grafted Petit Manseng vines in 1929, produces about 1,500 bottles a year. The wine can be anything from dry to sweet, depending on the vintage, as the harvest mixes grapes that are perfectly ripe with those that are raisined or even botrytised (rare for Jurançon). The results are unique, and the bottles can be hard to come by. 15 bottles made an appearance at 2023 auctions, obtaining an average of €221. The 1974 vintage, a dry version, of this nearly immortal wine was bought by a Turkish enthusiast for €263.

The top 3 is rounded off by the Reserve de Theulet from Chateau de Fonvielle from the classic 1929 vintage. It was bought by a French buyer for €213. This sweet wine from Monbazillac, located in the north of the South West region, is produced in a similar way to Sauternes, but the wines are quite different. Traditionally, they are powerful and full-bodied, with flavours of honey and wild flowers. The top three were joined by other sweet wines from the Monbazillac and Jurançon as well as reds from Cahors, Bergerac and Madiran.

Cahors, perhaps the most well-known red-wine appellation in the South West, is produced from Malbec or as the grape variety is known in the region, Cot. Clos de Gamot, which finds itself in 10th position, owns some vines that are over 120 years old which go on to produce rich, concentrated wines. Irouléguy which is represented by Arretxea in 11th place, just missing out on a top ten spot, can be found in France’s Basque Country. The region stretches from the Spanish boarder towards the town of Bayonne and produces fruity, yet tannic reds. We can’t round off this part of the article without mentioning the wines of Madiran. These powerful red wines are made from the Tannat grape grown on rolling hills around 100 kilometres away from the Atlantic Ocean. Château Montus in 7th is one of the leading producers there and can often be found on iDealwine.

The top 10 wines from the South West sold on iDealwine in 2023
The top 10 wines from the South West sold on iDealwine in 2023

Cognacs and Armagnacs: Bucket-list brandies

Cognac, Armagnac and Bas-Armagnac are brandies made from white grape varieties. Cognac is located in the north of the South West while Armagnac and Bas-Armagnac are produced further south in Gascony. These eaux-de-vie are rare on iDealwine, as they are more suited to iDealwine’s sister website, Fine Spirits Auction, but they are occasionally sold on iDealwine when they form part of a private collection. 64 bottles (scaled to 750ml) were sold at iDealwine auctions in 2023 for an average price of €103.

Chateau de Laubade took the leading position in the Armagnac rankings from last year’s auction results with a bottle from 1927, which was bought by someone from Hong Kong for €876. Proving that mature vintages are popular, all bottles in the rankings were produced before 1989. Additionally, a 50-year-old Armagnac from the 1945 vintage crafted by Jacques Lagan sits in second position, going under the hammer for €313.

Bottles of Cognac at last year’s auctions were rare (around 30 made an appearance when combining all formats). The Top 5 highlights the success of Tres Vieille Reserve from Chateau Lafite Rothschild, which is crafted from mature Cognacs carefully selected by the estate’s technical team. A German enthusiast snapped it up for €751. A rare Pineau des Charentes also makes an appearance in these rankings. A mature bottle from 1962 produced by Cognac Lheraud was sold at auction for €150. There is no doubt, rare gems and unusual bottles will always be in demand by discerning wine enthusiasts on iDealwine.

Bid on South West wines