Charles Neal

  • Beyond Bordeaux Satellites: From Bergerac to Gascony

    A couple of years ago I was asked by the Guild of Sommeliers to write an article about the wines from Southwest France.  I enthusiastically agreed, but said that I could not write just one article because the region was too vast.  Instead, I decided to break it down into three articles, to be researched in the three regions over three successive summers. The first installment dealt with the wines from Irouléguy, Jurançon…

    • 27 Nov 2015
  • Where the Ocean Meets the Sea: Wines of Fronton, Gaillac, Marcillac, and Cahors

    In my first installment on the wines of Southwest France I covered wines from the Pyrénées, including Jurançon, Madiran and Irouleguy. In this second installment, we are moving from the western edge of the Southwest to its eastern border. Here the wines are influenced by the intersection of two bodies of water: the Atlantic Ocean to the west and the Mediterranean Sea to the south.

    The Atlantic climate…

    • 21 Nov 2014
  • Wines from the Pyrenees: Going to the Mountaintop to See the Promised Land

    This is the first installment of a three-part series on the wines from Southwest France, a huge area that begins at the Basque border and runs northeast past Toulouse, all the way to Rodez in the Aveyron department. Driving on the autoroute at 70 miles an hour, this west-to-east journey of 360 miles would take approximately 5 hours. To put this into perspective, driving from Chablis to Mâcon in Burgundy takes about half…

    • 20 Dec 2013
  • Savoie-Faire: The Wines of the French Alps

    I remember driving along the autoroute between Alsace and the Southern Rhone about a dozen years ago.  Just south of Chambery, I viewed an immense stone mass to my right, part of which seemed blasted into a crescent shape.  Before me, the rugged, snow-capped Alps, standing majestically against the beautiful cobalt sky, receded toward the distant horizon.  To my left I saw vineyards stretching up the steep and barren mountainside…

    • 18 Sep 2012
  • Armagnac: An In-Depth Look at the Regions, Grapes, Styles and Producers

    Armagnac is a brandy that hails from the Gascony region of Southwestern France.  Traditionally, Armagnac is consumed in a snifter, but today it is often served in a shorter, narrower glass like a sherry copita.  Armagnac is commonly served straight and is typically consumed after a meal.  Its sublime flavors and bold alcohol make Armagnac a true digestif, providing immense gustatory pleasure while simultaneously aiding digestion…

    • 6 Feb 2012