La Galope is a popular French country wine we have been offering here for the last few years. It comes in red, white, and rose versions and is value-priced between $10 and $13/btl. Prior to 2009 the La Galope label would have read Vin du Pays Comte Tolosan as the wine's appellation/quality level. With the demise of the Vin du Pays category in 2009, Comte Tolosan (COM-tay TOH-luh-zah) alone appears on the front label.
Comte Tolosan is an overlay for the very large southwestern corner of France. It extends northward to the outskirts of Bordeaux, west to the Atlantic Ocean, south to the Pyranees Mountains and east to the Massif Central Mountains. It's huge! And it contains eighteen smaller appellations within it! So why would the French government create such a large wine appellation? For the same reason California has the Central Coast with all of its smaller appellations. In fairness to all who are invested in vineyards outside of the esteemed smaller appellations, the commonality in terroir far outweighs the differences. So they deserve their branding too.
I suspect there is more though. The modern wine era is all about international grape varieties made in the modern fresh, fruity, and forward style. California started it all and now everyone is doing it. Neighboring Spain's booming new world-style wine industry surely must have influenced the creation of Tolosan. Let's be honest - this is revenue we're talking about. Government protection/promotion of their native wine industry by using appellation branding makes sense.
Comte Tolosan is one of six IGP's (Indication Geographique Protege) in France. IGP's like our La Galope wines, by definition, reflect the character of the region they are from, in this case, southwestern France. The La Galope white is an aromatic, flavorful, and complex Sauvignon Blanc; consistent with the regional model. The La Galope red is Malbec and it is light, fruity, and soft; again consistent with the character of neighboring reds. The rose is typical with refreshing crispness. And the wines are all made in the modern international style.
(Scroll down for Part 2)