All of the grape varieties from Southwest France can be traced to six families: Carmenets, Cotoïdes, Folloïdes, Gouais, Noiriens, and Chenins. The main grape varieties cultivated today in the South-West and used in the production of red wines of Protected Designation of Origin (PDO/AOP) belong to the two great families of Carmenets and Cotoïdes.
Carmenets are native to the western Pyrenees and regroup several red grape varieties such as Cabernet Franc, Merlot, as well as the two white grape varieties, Merlot Blanc and Sauvignon. Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are approved in almost all denominations in the South-West, from the Pyrenees to the Massif Central.
The Cotoids family, originating in part from Quercy – as evidenced by the grape variety discovered around 1850 by Valdiguié in Puylaroque (Tarn et Garonne) which gave it its name – includes, in addition to Valdiguié, Cot (a.k.a. Malbec or Auxerrois), Négrette, Mérille, Prunelard B and Prunelard N grape varieties. It is also found further south-west with Tannat, Lauzet and Manseng Noir.
Cot (Malbec) is present in all the vineyards north of the Garonne and predominantly in Cahors. The Prunelard, which almost disappeared in the 1970s, is slowly making a comeback in Gaillac. Négrette, after having experienced a large extension in the 19th century, is today reduced to being the marker of Fronton wines. Tannat is present in all the vineyards south of the Garonne.
Originally from the Southwest Gascony, Folloids are represented by Folle Blanche, Jurançon B, Montils, and Ondenc with white grapes as well as Jurançon Noir, Canaril and Sencit with red grapes.
Originally from the center-west France, the Goais family is found in the Southwest: Gouais B, Graisse, Blanc Dame, La Muscadelle, Guilllemot, Saint-Pierre Doré.
Two groups of grape varieties: only Chardonnay and Gamay are present in the Southwest, part of the Noiriens family, which originally from Burgundy. Pinot de Bourgogne and Meunier N de Champagne are conserved as part of the Southwest collection. Only Pinot Noir has recently introduced in the Estaing vineyards, in Aveyron.
This last family, a Folloid descendant, is only represented in the South-West by Béquignol de l’Entre-deux-Mers and Chenin, also called Gamet d’Entraygues or Cruchinet des Landes.
(Source: Guy Lavignac – Cépages du Sud-Ouest, 2000 ans d’histoire)
Grape varieties cultivated in Southwest France
Family ties reflecting the migratory movements of the Middle Ages
*Main Southwest grape varieties – Secondary Southwest grape varieties – Grape varieties from other regions
Established relationship (both parents known) – arrow, Direct relationship (parent/child or sibling type) – dotted line