Duras is grown almost exclusively in Gaillac, southwest France, adding a layer of uniqueness to the region’s wines. Duras produces a deep, full bodied red wine, with a high concentration of alcohol. It is known for its spicy aromas of pepper, herbs and black fruit. Duras is grown nearly exclusively in the French southwest, mainly in the Gaillac region.
The variety is rarely used for varietal wines, and is mainly blended with Syrah and Fer Servadou. Together, these three varieties make up 60 per cent of all Gaillac reds and rosés. Duras has a chequered history, and was most likely introduced to southwest France by the Romans more than 2000 years ago. It was nearly eradicated for the first time during the Barbarian invasions of the early Middle Ages, only to be restored by monks in the 10th Century. It nearly vanished again after the Great French Wine Blight of the 19th Century, and was almost completely removed from vineyards in the 1960s, only to be repopulated by dedicated winemakers from the 1970s onwards.
It is suited to the Gaillac terroirs, growing alongside the river Tarn in soil rich in clay and gravel, and onto the sandstone infused soils of the Pyrenees foothills. The warm, dry wind from the southeast is of great importance to the Duras grape, blowing away the cooler, moist air that could otherwise lead to infection by fungi. Extra care is taken by producers over this often difficult variety, especially as it buds early in the year, often before spring frosts.