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Get the Floc out!

Get the Floc out!

Get the Floc out!

Getting the "Floc" out is a common occurrence in the South West of France.
I get the "Floc" out often although I'm pretty sure most French don't snigger like kids when they do, the joke just doesn't seem to grow old with me.
I know, it doesn't take much.

If you're wondering what I'm prattling on about, I'm talking about one of the regional drinks here in SW France, the little known Floc de Gascogne.
 

Why am I writing about it?
Because it's one of those drinks that needs to be talked about and shared.
It's an incredible drink and one which is, sadly, undersold and under exported for many reasons.

One of the reasons is that it's a fortified wine and the demand for fortified wines around the world outside or port or sherry, just isn't there.
Don't be put off by the "fortified" bit, I'll explain that part, just be sure that this drink is awesome!

Every region of France has it's own version of a fortified wine (also called vin de liqueur or mistelle) which is drunk as an aperitif or as a dessert accompaniment.

Cognac has Pineau de Charentes, the Rhône has Rinquinquin, there's Cartagene from the Languedoc and Macvin from the Jura just to name a few.

Mostly though "Floc" is drunk before dinner as an aperitif, often accompanied with tasty treats local to the area and often produced or reared locally. 

"Floc" comes in white, red and rose styles meaning they've got the seasonal changes covered so you can drink it year round - bonus!

Get the Floc out!

So, what is it?

Floc de Gascogne is a bi-product of the Armagnac (brandy) industry here in SW France.
It is (simply put) a base of grape juice to which Armagnac has been added.
Don't be fooled, you hardly taste the Armagnac.

The recipe has been around since the 16th century and it's name is as old as the local language, Occitan, which is still spoken by some older generations.
"Floc" means bouquet of flowers in Occitan and when you smell it that is exactly the aroma you smell.

 

Here's the technical description: 

Just prior to the completion of fermentation, the grape must (juice) is fortified with brandy until the solution reaches an alcohol level of 16%–22%.
The appellation (a set of strict controls to maintain authenticity) states that  there must be 2/3 grape juice and 1/3 brandy both of which must come from the same vineyard.
The resulting wine is left with a high level of residual sugar because most strains of yeast cannot reproduce at such a high alcohol level.
After blending, the Floc is kept for 10 months in the cellar of the producer and must be approved by a committee of experts before it can be sold under the appellation Floc de Gascogne.

Get the Floc out!

Visit any traditional family home in SW France and you most likely will be offered a chilled glass of Floc de Gascogne as an aperitif.
It's a bit of a ritual and there's rarely a fridge without a bottle in it.

The ritual part is typical of the people of the SW who are incredibly proud of their lands and the produce that has been grown or reared on it for centuries.
Not only will a chilled glass of "Floc" be proudly presented but there will also be offerings of local dried ham, nuts, olives and cheese all of which, unsurprisingly, pair incredibly well with it. 

In fact the "Floc" is transformed by the arrival of food, it becomes whole, the flavors rounded and the whole experience turns into a journey of taste sensations.
 

Think almond, jasmine, roses, honey and black fruit from the "Floc" then add to it salty ham or dry goat cheese or juicy ripe melon and you're looking at what I can only describe as complete foodie fulfillment.
"Floc" on it's own is....ok, but "Floc" with food, especially the right (meaning local) food is a different beast.

So, if you're looking for something a bit different that will blow the socks off your guests at a dinner party Get the Floc Out and pair it with some simple and delicious produce.
Believe me, you won't look back. 

No joke, try it you might even like it.

 

A bottle will cost between €7-15 in France and is readily available in many large supermarkets.
I added a couple of links on the right to Floc de Gascogne on Amazon UK where I know you can get it but you will probably have to order it through other wine stores.

"Floc" should be drunk within a year after the production.
Once a bottle is opened, it should be stored for up to three months in the refrigerator - but it won't last that long!

Comments

That sounds delicious! Any idea what grape varieties they most commonly use? Or is it just a lovely little field blend?
Thank you for linking up with #winenot

di's picture

Hi Nicole - grape varieties are definitely local to the region but as the region borders onto Bordeaux some will be familiar to you.

For the rosé/red Floc they use a blend of Cab. Franc, Cab. Sauvignon and Merlot - the primary red grapes of Bordeaux
For the white they use Colombard, Ugni Blanc and Gros Manseg - Colombard is the primary white grape of the Gascogne Region, Ugni Blanc is the main grape used in both Armagnac and Cognac production and Gros Manseng is a really popular white grape variety throughout the SW of France

 

Is any one Floc "better" than another. Which are your favorite brands.
Are high quality Armagnacs used?

di's picture

Hi Jerry, yes some Flocs are better than others, however finding them generally means paying a visit to a vigneron. For the main stream Flocs I know I can get consistant quality from Roche Frères so I use that as a typical Floc example for my tastings. Speciality wine stores may sell others but you will need to sample to see what your preference is - the best bit in my opinion!

Floc's production is regulated under AOC laws so there isn't a huge difference in terms of alcohol level and sweetness but definitely there are differences in bouquet - some are super floral, some super fruity. As with a lot of SW wines, there are a lot of them and they are very different so I would advise a visit to some vineyards, try some and find what suits you.

In terms of Armagnac quality, the best Armagnacs are bottled to be aged and drunk separately. For Floc production it is the lesser/bulk quality Armagnac that they use.

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