The Undiscovered France: Sud-Ouest & Jurançon Sec #Winophiles

Southwest France (Sud-Ouest) Gets No Respect
The Southwest France wine region is a real Cinderella story.  Look at the map, wicked step-sister “Bordeaux” in the same geographic region gets all the glory.  The remainder of the entire region is relegated to anonymity.  I know a Wine Bible can’t include every single region in every single country, but Karen McNeil’s book lists 9 major wine regions in France, no mention of the Southwest at all. Even the other, less wicked step-sister Languedoc-Roussillon to the east gets coverage in Karen’s book. Sud-Ouest? No!

Southwest France, the red headed step-child of French wine regions. Map courtesty of: By DalGobboM¿!i? (Own work) [GFDL ( or CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Southwest France, the red headed step-child of French wine regions. Map courtesty of: DalGobboM¿!i? via Wikimedia Commons

Along comes the prince to rescue poor Cinderella! Our French #Winophiles group is elevating the status of the Southwest this month, as we explore wines and foods of the region. The Southwest is the home of well-known duck confit, foie gras, cassoulet, and Roquefort cheese. Because the wines are overshadowed by their more famous neighbors, they are hardly known, yet often represent great value. Look further down in this post to see what my blogging buddies have discovered and are sharing with you today!

A bistro salad from the south of France.

A bistro salad from the south of France.

Jurançon Sec – What?
Winegrowers in the Southwest grow a variety of grapes which must be perfectly suited to their region, but you are unlikely to have heard of very many of them.  Sure, you might have heard of Malbec – that’s the base of wines from Cahors.  What about Jurançon Sec? It’s a wine made from a blend of Gros Manseng and Petite Manseng grapes. Not quite as well known as Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot. The community of Jurançon produces both a sweet dessert wine,  Jurançon, and a dry dinner wine, Jurançon Sec.

Jurançon Sec

You almost didn’t see this wine, as I nearly gave up on it: Mistake!

Domaine Bru-Baché Jurançon Sec 2012 ($20 Kermit Lynch Wine Club)
Eye: Clear, very rich, warm dark yellow, the color of honey.
Nose: Rich, honey and ripe pit fruit with a touch of an oxidized note. Even though it is labeled “Sec” (dry), I fully expect a sweet wine based on the nose.
Mouth: Rich, creamy mouthfeel with very strong fruit, gives the impression of sweetness even though, at 13% alcohol I expect its actually dry.  Good acidity underlying that rich mouthfeel. As a wine tasted on its own, I didn’t like it.

I actually put it away, and pulled out a Gaillac white but it was just a bit too light in body for the meal.  What, you’ve not heard of a Gaillac? OK, neither had I. There’s a lot to learn about this region!

Saved by the food, Jurançon Sec turned out to be a perfect partner!

Saved by the food, Jurançon Sec turned out to be a perfect partner!

Jurançon Sec’s Exoneration and a Wine Pairing Lesson
In desperation, I pulled the Jurançon Sec back out with the meal, just to try to salvage my post for our group. Voilà! Grilled chicken thigh & leg, and the tomatoes and olives in the salad wanted a wine with some body.  The Jurançon Sec provided that body. In the presence of the food, the weird fruit sweet impression disappeared.  This was a perfect wine with this meal.  Even Julie, who usually turns up her nose at any hint of an oxidized aroma thought this was a good pairing.

Lesson: don’t judge a wine in the absence of food if you intend to drink it at the table.

Bistro Salad Dinner
Were this September or later, I would definitely have given Cassoulet a try, as it is a classic from this region.  But in the dog days of August, I just couldn’t force myself to cook such a cool weather dish.  After looking around a bit, I found a bistro type salad which would nicely represent the warmer areas in the south of France.  Oranges aren’t native to Paris. To turn the salad into dinner, I doubled the dressing and used it as a marinade for the chicken to provide a unity in the flavors on the plate. Our local sweet corn season is so short, I had to add that Minnesota touch.

Southern France with a touch of Minnesota. Grilled chicken with bistro salad of tomatoes & oranges. Sweet corn on the side, you know, for that exotic foreign touch.

Southern France with a touch of Minnesota. Bistro salad of tomatoes & oranges with grilled chicken. Sweet corn on the side, you know, for that exotic foreign touch.

French #Winophiles Conquer Sud-Ouest
We’ll be discussing our findings on Twitter on Saturday August 15 10-11am CDT at #Winophiles. If you’re around, please join us in conversation, we’re a friendly group! Here are the offerings from our other French Winophiles:

Camilla from Culinary Adventures with Camilla shares “Le Tourin Gascon a la Tomate”

David from Cooking Chat pairs “A Cahors Malbec for Grilled Pork Chops”

Martin from Enofylz Wine Blog features “Marcillac – The Perfect Wine for Liver and Onions”

Michelle from Rockin Red Blog shares “Wines of Southwest France on Winophiles”

Sarah from Curious Cuisiniere pairs “Pintxos (Basque Style Tapas) and Côtes de Gascogne Wine”

Tammy from Telling Stories from Chez Nous shares “Oysters a La Charentaise”

Wendy from A Day in the Life on a Farm shares tales from “Exploring Southwest France with the French Winophiles – 2012 Malbec from Chateau-Haut Monplaiser

Christy from Confessions of a Culinary Diva shares  “Smoking Duck and Wines from Sud-Ouest”

September: Languedoc-Roussillon
Speaking of less-wicked step-sisters, we’ll be exploring the Languedoc-Roussillon next month; stay tuned!

Salad of Oranges & Tomatoes with Grilled Chicken

Recipe is adapted from “French Bistro” by Maria Zihammou.  I’ve doubled the vinaigrette ingredients so you can use half as a marinade for the chicken.


  • 3 vine ripened tomatoes, ideally from your garden
  • 2 oranges, sorry, no local oranges in Minnesota
  • 1 red onion
  • 24 black olives, pitted
  • 1 whole chicken, cut into pieces

Vinaigrette Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh tarragon
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup Extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste


  • Mix the vinaigrette ingredients in a pint size bell jar, shake vigorously to mix.
  • Pour half the vinaigrette over the chicken, mix well and refrigerate for 1/2 hour up to 2 hours before cooking.
  • Slice the tomatoes
  • Peel the rind and pith off the oranges with a paring knife, then slice
  • Cut the red onion in half, then slice thinly
  • Arrange the tomatoes, oranges, onions and olives on a plate
  • Pour the dressing over the salad and refrigerate
  • Grill the chicken to your normal routine, and serve alongside the salad.
  • Sweet corn optional, but highly recommended

winophiles_sw_jurancon_tomato_salad_chicken 20150810 104


26 Responses to “The Undiscovered France: Sud-Ouest & Jurançon Sec #Winophiles”
  1. I find, often, that wine I thought I didn’t care for is elevated to new heights when paired with the right meal. Great post Jeff

  2. Glad you gave the wine another try! Sometimes, they can be duds, but other times, you never know what magic you’re going to get.

  3. ” don’t judge a wine in the absence of food if you intend to drink it at the table” Absolutely agree! Great post Jeff!

  4. I’ve just ordered another bottle of Jurancon Sec so I can try your pairing. It was such an interesting wine.

    I had so much fun this month exploring wines/grapes that I had never heard or tried before. “Lesson: don’t judge a wine in the absence of food if you intend to drink it at the table” so true! Thanks for reminding us of that!

  5. tammycirceo says:

    I’m tracking with you on the cassoulet … almost chose that myself. Love your persistence at finding a meal that would go with your wine!

  6. culinarycam says:

    GREAT lesson, Jeff. Thanks for the reminder. Glad you liked it the next time around.

  7. Make sure you check out some of the sweet wines from round there, like Monbazillac, like a baby Sauternes and a fifth of the price!

  8. arneis2013 says:

    As always, you make me hungry, Jeff, with your delectable photographs. Another well-constructed, interesting post. Thanks!

  9. I enjoyed your Cindarella metaphor Jeff! Quite apropros. Your recipe and photos look amazing. I appreciate your lesson, which is a good one. Cheers!

  10. Such a great lesson to learn! Your meal looks delicious, and I’m glad the wine turned out to be a good fit.

  11. great introduction to the region! and so true of so many wines: they sing when paired with food!

Check out what others are saying...
  1. […] Jeff from foodwineclick journeys to “The Undiscovered France: Sud-Ouest & Jurancon Sec” […]

  2. […] Jeff from foodwineclick journeys to “The Undiscovered France: Sud-Ouest & Jurancon Sec” […]

  3. […] Jeff from foodwineclick journeys to “The Undiscovered France: Sud-Ouest & Jurancon Sec” […]

  4. […] Jeff from foodwineclick journeys to “The Undiscovered France: Sud-Ouest & Jurancon Sec” […]

  5. […] on July 15th! It’s been 2 years since our #Winophiles group first explored the wines of Southwest France. As French wine regions go, it’s near the bottom of the list for familiarity. It’s time […]

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