Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh Wines
The Vic-Bilh wine-growing area is the same one that produces Madiran. This area produces the red Madiran wine and dry, medium sweet, and sweet French white wines as Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh. Pacherenc is derived from the Basque or Gascon word for little berry or grape. The ideal soil for this white French wine is a mixture of clay and sandstone. The grapes used are the native Arrufiac, Petit Manseng, Gros Manseng, and Courbu, with a little Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon being used for the modern type of French wine.
Dry Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh is very aromatic with floral notes and hints of citrus fruit combined with a full taste of ripe and preserved fruits. Drinking temperature for this French wine: 10- 12°C (50- 53.6°F). The medium-sweet or sweet Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh shares the aromatic properties ofthe dry wine (citrus fruit, preserved fruit, dried fruit, and flowers) with the addition of a little honey, toast, and exotic fruit. The texture and taste are fuller, fatter, more fleshy, and juicy. Drinking temperature for French wine: 8-10°C ( 46.4-50° F).
Your attention is drawn to the excellent quality of the local vins de pays des Cotes de Gascogne and the many vins de cepages. The vins de pays des Cotes de Gascogne of Colombard, Gros Manseng, and Sauvignon (white French wines) and reds of Egiodola, Tannat and Cabernet Sauvignon, together with those from Jurançon are worth a separate mention.
This wine-growing area, south of Pau and close to the French Pyrenees, is slightly less ancient than its predecessors. The first signs of wine-growing date back only to the tenth century. Jurançon was one of the first AC status French wines in 1936 and Jurançon Sec acquired its own recognition in 1975.
The area is barely larger than 600 hectares with the vineyards being dispersed throughout the district. They can be found strung out along a 40 km (25 miles) stretch like small islands amidst the other greenery. The better French wines are produced on hills of about 300 metres (984 feet) high with soil of clay, sandstone, and boulders.
The climate is a mixture of high and regular rainfall from the Atlantic combined with the harsh winters of the Pyrenees. The area does though appear always to be blessed with warm autumns and dry southerly winds that make it possible for the grapes to be left to overripen in order to make a great sweet French wine. The grapes used for Jurançon are the native Gros Manseng, Petit Manseng, Courbu, Camaralet, and Lauzet. Jurançon Sec is truly dry with fresh acidity, with floral notes (broom and acacia) and fruity aromas (passion fruit, white peach, and citrus fruit) . As the French wine matures it develops a more complex bouquet with almond and other nuts, dried fruit, and sometimes a marked suggestion of truffle. Drinking temperature for this French wine: 8- 10°C (46.4-50°F) .
Either Jurançon Doux or Moelleux are little gems. The colour drifts between gold and amber, the bouquet is fine and complex, varying from honey, vanilla, toast and preserved fruit to the subtlest hints of white flowers, lime blossom, camomile, pineapple, and citrus fruit. The taste is full and rounded for this French wine. The high sugar content is perfectly balanced with fresh acidity. This sweet French wine can be kept for a very long time. Drinking temperature this French wine: 10-12°C (50- 53.6°F).
Beam is fairly hilly, lying at the foot of the Pyrenees where it enjoys an ideal microclimate that combines Atlantic moisture with a harsher mountain climate. Bearn white French wine is quite rare and is produced in the vicinity of Bellocq. This white French wine made with Raffiat and Manseng grapes is fresh and fruity with an undertone of floral notes (broom, acacia) . Drinking temperature for this white French wine: 10- 12°C (50- 53.6°F) .
The more widely available Rose de Beam owes its charm to the combination of Tannat with Cabernet
Sauvignon and Cabernet Pranc (better known in this locality as Bouchy). This is a wonderful rose that is velvet smooth, full-bodied, rounded, and very fruity. Drinking temperature for this rose French wine: 10- 12°C (50- 53 .6°F).
The more straightforward Bearn red is lightweight but comforting and easily consumed. The taste and scent tend more towards Cabernet Pranc than Tannat. Drinking temperature for this Bearn French wine: 12°C (53.6°F).
The better Bearn-Bellocq red by contrast is sturdier, fuller, more full -bodied, and fleshier. Tannin clearly has the upper hand in this French wine. Drinking temperature for this red French wine: 14-16°C (57.2- 60.8°F) .