The wine-growing areas of this large region (french Sud-Ouest) with about 160,000 hectares of vineyards are among the oldest in France. From a purely geographical and historical point of view, southwest France includes the entire area between the Massif Central, which forms the eastern border, and the Atlantic coast in the west and the Pyrenees on the border with Spain in the south. Julius Caesar (100-44 BC) first called the Roman province he conquered between the Garonne River and the Pyrenees Aquitaine (French: Guyenne). Emperor Charles the Great (742-814) incorporated it into the Frankish Empire. After an eventful history as an independent county, the acquisition of Gascony and then under English rule from the middle of the 12th century onwards, the area did not finally become part of France until 1453. In the Middle Ages, the Catholic orders cultivated viticulture here, with the Cistercian monastic order in particular making a great contribution.
The demand of the Dutch from the 17th century onwards for eaux-de-vie and sweet wines shaped the wine style. At this time the name Haut-Pays (upper country - upstream from Bordeaux) became common. However, for a long time the wines were overshadowed by the Bordelais. Wine was sold from the port in Bordeaux and all other areas had to wait until all the wine was shipped from there. Southwest France is also known as the "Vine Museum", because there are many autochthonous grape varieties, some of them very old, which are increasingly being cultivated again. These are the varieties Arrufiac, Baroque, Durás, Fer, Lauzet, Len de l'El, Mauzac Blanc, Manseng Noir, Négrette and Tannat. These give the wines an independent, typical note. But there are also the classic Bordeaux varieties Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon.
The biggest common feature of this huge area is the Atlantic climate. There is much humidity in winter and spring, warm summers and long, sunny autumns. The region can be divided into five major sub-areas, which produce different styles of wine with their own unique character. In the centre is the famous brandy region of Armagnac, much older than the better known Cognac. The north is dominated by the large Bergerac area, and Cahors lies to the south. In the east is the historic Gaillac. And in the southwest corner at the edge of the Pyrenees are the two famous areas Jurançon and Madiran: