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Haut-Pays

A term commonly used in the Middle Ages (Ober-Land) for a large area in southwest France. This was understood to mean the entire "Bordeaux hinterland". The "Haut" or "Ober" refers to the upper courses of the river; i.e. closer to the sources. These are the present appellations Bergerac, Buzet, Cahors, Côtes de Duras, Côtes du Brulhois and Gaillac. The ancient wine-growing region stretched from Bordeaux upwards from the two rivers Garonne and Dordogne. It is likely that wine was transported to the sea coast by this waterway as early as the 1st century, when the Romans began to cultivate wine here. In the Middle Ages the main customers were England and Holland. The wines were called "Vin de Haut" or in Dutch "Hooglansche Wijn". In the 17th century, the then Médoc marshes were drained by Dutch specialists and later vineyards were planted. The citizens of Bordeaux took advantage of their port as the main transhipment point for the wines of the entire region by first shipping their own wines before considering the others. This often lasted until spring and it was not uncommon for the wines of the competition to spoil. Today, Haut-Pays is more likely to refer to the two areas of Cahors and Gaillac.

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