Unlike the “Bordelais” grape varieties from southwest France (Mérille, Tannat, Baroque…), Duras has no connection with the town of Duras, seat of a duchy of Lot-et-Garonne and famous for a vineyard where it’s absent. Rather, Duras gets its name from the adjective “dur”, which refers to the hard wood of its vines.
On the other hand, with some morphological variations in the foliage, we find a Duras from Gimalac or Brinck in Le Fel (hamlet in the community of Enguialès, Cantal and part of the vineyard of Entraygues and Le Fel) and, in the past, a Duraze in Pamiers (Ariège).
De Tallavignes (in Viala and Vermorel, 1910), writes “Duras has been cultivated in the Tarn and Ariège beyond memory. On November 8, 1484, master Pachino, notary in Lavaur, registered a lease develop a vineyard with the Duras variety.
This grape variety was the basis of the so-called “Baudets and Cendressés” vineyards in Pamiers. In Gaillac, with Brocol (Fert, according to the author) and Négrette, it produced a wine of exceptional finesse.
The creation of the Gaillac vineyard dates back to the 2nd century BC. We can therefore suppose that the Duracina grape variety reported by Columelle and Plato, and introduced by the first Roman settlers in the Mediterranean region, would have spread in the Gaillac region as well as in the Dauphiné where we found a grape variety called Dureza.
The characteristics of Duras are white cottony buds with a carmine edge, young leaves downy, and yellowish with slightly tanned areas. It has very indented, quinquelobed adult leaves. Petiolar sinus covers purplish veins, brown wood and long tight raceme.
It is a productive grape variety, sensitive to frost, powdery mildew and black rot. In the past, we could distinguish a poorly fertile male Duras and a very fertile female Duras; only the latter survived.
Duras is only cultivated in Gaillacois in association with Fer Servadou (a.k.a. Braucol or Pinenc) and to a lesser extent in Aveyron. It’s certainly one of the oldest cultivated varieties in the Tarn department and one of the flagships of Gaillac where it gives an excellently colored red wine, with fine tannins and spicy and peppery aromas. Duras belongs to the Cotoïdes family.
Production area: 783 ha (1,935 acres)