Grapes and Wine in Gaillac

What makes Gaillac so SPECIAL?

Gaillac is the second oldest, after Narbonne, wine-growing region in France and has had vineyards since before the birth of Christ. Major vineyard development took place in AD 972 with the arrival of the Benedictine monks who founded an abbey in the town of St. Michel. Laws were established regarding the quality of wines from Gaillac in 1271, and in 1938, the white wines of the region were granted AOC status. In 1970, this guarantee of quality was extended to Gaillac's reds and roses.

The appellation region has three distinctly different terroirs. On the right bank of the Tarn the soils tend to be molassic clayey-calcareous slopes, with sandy or gravely outcrops at the heart of the vineyard area. While to the north the Plateau Cordais has granitic and calcareous soils that are the well suited for fruity whites and subtle reds. On the left bank the soils are of pebbles, gravels, sands or "boulbenes"(soils of alluvial, sandy and clayey composition) and these are ideal for producing dense, deep red wines.

The region has seen over the past 20 years a return to the use of traditional Gaillac grape varieties such as Ondenc, Lenc de l'Elh and Mauzac in white, Fer, Duras and Braucol in red. These are often blended with classic red varieties such as Cabernet, Merlot and Syrah; and whites such as Sauvignon Blanc, and Muscadelle. As a result some unique wines are produced with characteristics not found in other regions.


Principal Gaillac Grape Varieties


A traditional Gaillac grape,a variety only existing in Gaillac and Limoux. It is excellent for the making of various white wines : dry, sweet, sparkling. Main characteristic are aromas of apple and pear. It produces soft wines with low acidity.


Lenc de l'Elh
This ancient variety can only be found in Gaillac. It produces a wine with a very subtle, floral or citrus fruit aroma, bringing the wine freshness and suppleness.


Now unique to Gaillac, Ondenc can produce a highly perfumed, full bodied wine. It is also high in acidity which lend itself well to the production of sparkling wine



Sauvignon Blanc
Used in conjuction with traditional Gaillac varities, especially in sweet wines




One of the oldest grape varieties known, it brings colour, suppleness and finesse, with characteristics of peppery and spicy aromas.


Also called Fer Servadou, it produces a wine high in colour, full bodied and rustic. Characteristic aromas of blackcurrant, raspberry, crumpled leaves and red pepper.


Syrah is best suited to warm south-facing vineyards. Used to bring robustness and aromatic complexity to Gaillac reds.


Used exclusively to produce Gaillac Primeur. Gamay is well suited to the Gaillac terroir and has enabled Gaillac Primeur to obtain national recognition.




Name: Appellation Gaillac Controlée

Location: In the Tarn district, west of Albi city

Vineyards: 100 independent producers and 3 cooperative cellars.

Places: 73 villages

Size of the vineyards: 2,500 ha (6,200 acres)

Production volume: 165,000 hectolitres producing 10 million bottles (60% red wine)

Soil: Mainly clayey limestone, and gravels

Weather: Predominantly oceanic, with a Mediterranean influence, due to the dry, hot south wind.

Gaillac Appellations
Appellation Premières Cotes de Gaillac ControléeThe appellation stretches over both sides of the Tarn and to the north up to Cordes.

Appellation Gaillac Mousseux Controlée
The Mousseux Appellation area follows the boundaries of the Gaillac appellation region.


GAILLAC WINE TYPES - Appellation wines



Gaillac Blanc Sec (Dry white Gaillac)

Must contain minimum percentages of Lenc de l'Elh or Sauvignon grapes, or a blend of the two. It may also contain Mauzac, Muscadelle, Ondenc and Semillon grapes. Colour is typically pale yellow with hints of green. Aromas of pears, apples and sometimes honey.



Gaillac Fraîcheur Perlé (Pearl fresh Gaillac)

A slightly sparkling white wine with very fine bubbles or pearls from the second fermentation


Gaillac Doux (Sweet Gaillac)

Naturally sweet wines that must contain a minimum amount of residual sugar per litre. Grape varieties are the same as for the dry white wines. They have a range of sweetness and typically have a flavour of ripe peach.


Gaillac Mousseux (Sparkling Gaillac)

Sparkling wines made by the "Gaillacoise Method " which is a single fermentation, with no addition of sugar. The sweetness comes solely from the grapes. After several months, the residual natural sugar starts to re-ferment and this produces the bubbles. The wine can be dry or half-dry.



Gaillac Rouge (Red Gaillac)

Must be made from set minimum percentages of Duras, Fer Servadou(Braucol) or Syrah grapes. Each grower will use their own choice of other varieties to blend. The red wines typically have a deep colour and a powerful nose, with tones of red fruit and hints of spices.



Gaillac Primeur (Early harvest Gaillac)

The Primeur may only be sold from the third Thursday of November following the harvest. Made from the Gamay grape, it is a wonderfully fruity, easy to drink young wine.


Gaillac Rosé (Pink Gaillac)

The wine grapes used are the same as for the red wines. The rosés are typically light, fresh, easy-drinking dry wines.