wine-searcher.com / Duras Wine
Duras is an ancient vine variety, thought to have been introduced to France by the Romans more than 2000 years ago. Today it is grown only in the French southwest, notably around Gaillac, where it produces well-structured red wines full of color and alcohol. The typical Duras wine is generally a robust, rustic, full-bodied red with aromas of black fruits, dried herbs, fresh pepper and a whiff of smoke. It is arguably the archetypal wine of southwestern France, rivaled only by the Tannat-based reds of Madiran.
The name Duras comes from dur, the French word for «hard». This is a reference not to the wines (although these can be relatively dark and unforgiving) but the sturdiness of the variety’s wood. The Duras variety is entirely unconnected with, and not used in, Cotes de Duras wines.
The variety covers a total of roughly 2400 acres (1000ha), almost all of which are located in the Tarn department where Duras plays a key role in the red wines of Gaillac. Some is also planted in the neighboring Aveyron department, for use in the little-known wines of Estaing and the Cotes de Millau.
Duras is only occasionally used to produce varietal wines. Its most common application is as a blending partner for Fer Servadou and Syrah, often together; Duras – Fer – Syrah is the classic Gaillac wine blend. Together these three varieties make up at least 60 percent of any Gaillac red or rosé wine.
During the post-war years of the mid-20th Century, swathes of Duras vines were pulled up and replaced with more fashionable varieties from Bordeaux. By the 1960s only around 240 acres (100ha) of Duras vines remained. Happily, in the 1970s, a movement of Gaillac winegrowers (including local hero Robert Plageoles) banded together to safeguard the variety’s future, and its prospects are now decidedly brighter.
Synonyms include: Durasca, Duraze.
Food matches for Duras include:
- Herb-crusted smoked venison
- Szechuan tea-smoked duck
- Almond-crusted venison fillet with caramelized onion