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DuffourLast year, in an effort to go deeper into spirits (Brandy) and round out my beverage knowledge, I remember reading all about Armagnac from Charles Neal, importer and writer/historian extraordinaire. I enjoyed learning about the region—Gascony—with a long history of culinary and wine traditions. It was untapped, rustic and genuine, escaping the buzz of nearby Bordeaux for obvious reasons (one being proximity to a major trading port), and although the book didn’t leave me with an insatiable thirst for Armagnac I had suddenly been turned on to the South West of France.

Back LabelI had stockpiled Cahors, Madiran and the white wines of Jurançon after reading Neal’s take, branching out from Armagnac to find a bunch of treasures—albeit under-the-radar wines—for reasonable prices. Most recently, I unscrewed a bottle of Côtes de Gascogne from Domaine Duffour, a producer of both Armagnac and wine from the village of Lagrulet-du-Gers. The Gascony blend was comprised of 70% Colombard and equal parts Ugni Blanc and Gros Manseng. What did it taste like?

Sprightly and fresh, with a pale straw color in the glass and bright aromatics of lime zest, honeydew, guava, an herbal tinge and a faint yeastiness reminiscent of good Belgium white ale. A trim medium body, medium-plus acidity and packing a fruit-forward finish of lemons, limes, guava, passion fruit and minerals.

The best part of this wine was the QPR (quality-to-price ratio); for nine dollars I had a bottle of wine to share with a friend that made a story and had refreshing properties. The Côtes de Gascogne wines are often simple, carefree and really affordable—rarely topping out over twelve dollars—and even though the summer is behind us these are still really friendly bottles as apertifs for enjoying the perennially warm weather of Southern California.

I am still developing my tastes for Armagnac, but am sold on the values of South Western French wine. Domaine Duffour is worth seeking out as are a number of other great producers from Charles Neal’s portfolio. Cheers.

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